A Bodybuilder's Back and Arms Workout

Chin ups are a great back workout.
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Bodybuilders use highly demanding workouts to spur muscle growth and achieve their ideal physiques. They are chasing something called muscle hypertrophy — the scientific term for gaining muscle. To achieve their goals, they often have to break up their workouts for the week by different body parts — such as arm and back workouts — in order to maximize the amount of work they can do with each muscle in a workout.


Read more: Lower Back & Waist Workout

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Structure Your Workout

Working all of the muscles in your back is a tall task and requires a few different movements. Typically you'll need at least two or three exercises per body part to stress them enough to grow. If this workout doesn't seem like it's having the desired effect, you can simply repeat it once again during the week. However, if it's sufficiently challenging, performing this workout once per week is enough.

The number of sets that you do per exercise does not include warm-up sets. Do one or two lighter sets to warm up your muscles before plunging into the number of working sets listed in the intro to each exercise. These working sets should be performed with as much weight as you can use while maintaining correct form and completing the assigned number of repetitions.

Arm and Back Workouts

You might commonly combine arm and back workouts on the same day because you often use arm muscles when performing back exercises. Typically, a bodybuilder will work the biggest muscle group first, such as the back, and then move on to the smaller muscles, which, in this case, would be the arm muscles.


Choose Your Reps

For most bodybuilding workouts, a specific number of repetitions, known as the middle range, is used for each exercise. The low range of repetitions is known as the strength range and consists of one to five repetitions. A good example of a strength athlete would be a football lineman or Olympic weightlifter.

The upper range, or endurance range, is over 15 repetitions. A good example of this type of endurance athlete is a rower or boxer. The middle range is a combination of strength and endurance and is sometimes called the hypertrophy range. This is anywhere from six to 15 repetitions.


Read more: The Ultimate Back Strength Workout


1. Chin-Up

The chin-up exercise works your back muscles and biceps at the same time. Perform three sets of five to 15 repetitions.

  1. Grip a chin-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and an underhand grip. Pull your feet off of the ground so that you are hanging in the air. Your elbows should be straight.
  2. Pull yourself up toward the bar. Lean back slightly and stick your chest out.
  3. Get your chin over the bar to complete the repetition. To get more out of the movement, try to touch your chest to the bar.


2. Dumbbell Pullover

This dumbbell arm workout routine works your back and triceps. Be sure to grip the dumbbell properly to maximize the safety of the exercise. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

  1. Lie down on your back on a workout bench. Place a dumbbell on your chest so that the handle is vertical and the weighted part of the dumbbell is flat against you.
  2. Grip the dumbbell with the palms of your hands underneath the weighted portion of the dumbbell above the handle — not the portion touching your chest. Extend your elbows so that the dumbbell is hanging over your chest.
  3. Reach the dumbbell back over your head. Your elbows should stay as straight as possible. Once your arms are parallel to your torso you've reached the bottom of the movement.
  4. Pull the dumbbell back over your chest, keeping your elbows as straight as possible.


3. Dumbbell Row

The bent-over dumbbell exercise allows you to focus on one side of your back at a time. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for this exercise.

  1. Place a dumbbell on the ground next to a workout bench. With your feet shoulder-width apart, lean forward and plant one hand on the bench. Try to keep your back as straight as possible.
  2. Grab the dumbbell with the hand that isn't touching the bench and use it to pull the dumbbell up to your chest.
  3. Lower the dumbbell back to the ground. That marks the completion of one repetition.



4. Seated Biceps Curl

Sitting while doing a biceps curl takes away some of the momentum that you can generate while standing, effectively preventing you from cheating. You can also perform this exercise with one arm at a time. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions with each arm.

Consider adding in three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of dumbbell hammer curls after this exercise for extra biceps work.


  1. Grab one dumbbell in each hand and sit down on a bench or chair. Your posture should be as straight up as possible.
  2. Let your arms hang down straight at your sides. Curl both dumbbells up at the same time with your palms facing up until the dumbbells touch the front of your shoulders. Try not to let your upper body sway back and forth.
  3. Lower the dumbbells back down to your sides.

5. Triceps Extensions

The triceps account for over half of your arm, so if you want nice arms, it's an important muscle on which to work! Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

For greater stimulation, add three sets of eight to 12 reps of triceps dips to your workout after this exercise.

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lie down on your back on a workout bench.
  2. Press the dumbbells towards the ceiling until your arms are straight.
  3. Keeping your arm in a vertical position, bend your elbow and drop your forearms down until the dumbbells are next to your head. Press the dumbbells up until your elbows are straight again.




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