Build Strength With This Back and Biceps Workout

Ditch the Curls and build bigger arms in less time with multi-joint combo biceps and back supersets.

If you're trying to increase your biceps size by doing several sets of barbell or dumbbell single-joint Curls, take a step back; you're working too hard. Multi-joint combo biceps and back superset movements build arm and back size and strength in less time and fewer reps than dozens upon dozens of Curls. That's because the combo exercises use more muscles.

This multi-joint back and biceps workout uses body weight and conventional weight training exercises while also strengthening your upper- and lower-body and core muscles.

RELATED: 10 Biceps Exercises Better Than Traditional Curls


  • Barbell, 2 dumbbells (or kettlebells) and Cable Machine at 80% 1RM
  • Squat rack with bar secured at waist-level
  • Water bottle
  • Exercise mat and timer (optional)


  • Perform a dynamic upper- and lower-body warm-up (e.g., Arm Circles, Lunges) and a post-workout cooldown of upper- and lower-body static stretches for greater range of motion and flexibility.
  • Hydrate before, during and after the workout.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x10
  • Rep Tempo: 3-1-1. 3 seconds for the negative (lowering or return to start position) part of the rep; 1-second pause for an isometric hold; and 1-second explosive positive part of the rep (beginning motion of the exercise).
  • Add a 10-15-second isometric hold on the last rep of each set at the top of each movement (contracting phase of the rep) using the time under tension weight training principle for boosting intensity, strength and size.
  • Rest 60 seconds between combo sets and 60-90 seconds before progressing to a different combo.
  • Perform the workout on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.
  • Choose three of the five combo back/biceps movements when performing full-body workouts (for variety, rather than doing the same back and biceps exercises each session).



Deadlifts are perhaps the ultimate mass-building back exercise, besides promoting overall lower- and upper-body size. Combine with Shrugs at the top of the movement, and you'll build thicker shoulder and upper-back muscles. Lift the barbell using proper deadlift technique, do a Shrug, hold for 1 second, and return to start for 10 reps.

RELATED: Build Bigger Biceps with 21's

Cable Bent-Over Rows/Isometric Curls

  • Facing a cable machine, legs slightly bent, grasp the handles with a supine (underhand) grip and pull to waist level.
  • Curl and hold 1 second.
  • Return to start and repeat 9 more times.

Single-Leg Squats/DB Cross Rows

  • Hold one dumbbell or kettlebell in your left hand with your left foot off the floor and your knee bent.
  • Squat with your right leg and bring the dumbbell across your body toward your right ankle.
  • Explosively pull back to start position, pause and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Repeat 9 more times.
  • Immediately repeat with left-leg Squat (right foot off the floor and db in right hand.) Single-leg exercises improve balance and engage core muscles.

Single-Leg Inverted Rows superset with Supermans

  • Secure the bar on the Squat Rack at waist level.
  • Go under the bar using a shoulder-width supine grip and extend your legs.
  • Lift one foot off the floor.
  • Quickly pull up (your chest should be close to the bar), squeeze your shoulder blades together and tense your biceps for 1 second.
  • Slowly return to start position.
  • Immediately follow doing Supermans on a mat or the floor for 10 reps.

Performing Inverted Rows with one foot airborne is not only more challenging than with both feet on the floor, it also incorporates core stabilization. Squeezing your shoulder blades and biceps at the top of the rep and holding for 10-15 seconds on the 10th rep of each set will pump up your back, biceps and forearms. It will also enhance your grip strength. Supermans are terrific for strengthening lower- middle- and upper-back, shoulder and abdominal muscles.

DB Upright Rows/Side Lunges and Twists

  • Perform Upright Rows with 2 dumbbells or kettlebells while simultaneously laterally lunging right for 5 reps and then laterally left for 5 reps.
  • Without rest, put 1 db or kb down, hold the other one close to your chest and rotate your body right while lunging laterally for 5 reps, then rotating and lunging left for 5 reps.

Upright Rows and Lunges target upper-back, biceps, leg and hip muscles while Side Lunges and Twists are an excellent lower- and middle-back and core- building combination.

RELATED: Todd Durkin's World-Class Workouts: The 10-10-10 Bicep Builder

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