Looking for a routine that is guaranteed to get you results on your back and biceps?
Many trainees have an underdeveloped back, as more emphasis is given to the mirror muscles i.e the chest, shoulders etc. But, without a strong well rounded back, your physique will be much less impressive than it could be.
Perhaps you are having trouble putting on mass to your biceps. Many lifters will struggle to really build an impressive set of biceps even after endless rope curls and “pump work”. To tackle these problems, let’s look at two bodybuilders in history who have the best back, and the best biceps. Then you can throw these ideas together into a ass kicking routine that will finally add some thick slabs of meat to your frame.
Who had the best backs in bodybuilding? There are many to choose from, but let’s take a look at Dorian “the shadow” Yates. What about arms? Well, it would be tough to do have an article without a mention to Arnold “The Oak” Schwarzenegger.
First and foremost, let’s take look at Dorian Yates’ back routine first – then we’ll give it some explanation.
1) Pullovers/pulldowns – 2 warm up sets 8 – 10 reps. Then 1 set to failure
2) Close Grip Lat Pulldown – 2 warm up sets 8 – 10 reps. Then 1 set to failure
3) “Yates Row” – 2 warm up sets 8 – 10 reps. Then 1 set to failure
4) Seated Cable Row – 2 warm up sets 8-10 reps. Then 1 set to failure
5) Rackpulls (Deadlifts from the shin) – 2 warm up sets 6-8 reps. Then 1 set to failure (these shouldn’t go beyond the 8-10 range, if they do, go heavier and squeeze harder)
1) Pullovers/pulldowns – The first exercise here (the pullover) ideally is to be done on a Natuilus machine, but not many gyms have that. An alternative could be stiff arm pulldowns or dumbbell pullovers. With this pullover/pulldown movement it is important that you focus on squeezing the lats, getting them very engaged during the movement. That was paramount to Dorian Yate’s routine, he focused on the squeeze, the “quality of the contraction” over anything else.
2) Close Grip Lat Pulldown – The close grip pull down movement. Generally the best grip to use would be an underhand grip. This will help the lats to have the widest range of motion possible for them.
3) “Yates Row” – Barbell rows or “Yates Rows” which can be seen demonstrated by the man himself here. These again are meant to be done with a big focus on the squeeze, or the contraction at the top of the movement. This will fully engage your lats, giving you great width on your back. If you are looking to modify the movement to hit the upper back instead of the lats, then putting your chest almost parallel to the ground will work. However, try it Dorian’s way for now and see how much progress you make.
Dorian Yates would also alternate between a barbell row and dumbbell row week by week. The sets and rep scheme would be the same on a dumbbell row. To see the correct form to get the lats to contract fully check out this video.
4) Seated Cable Row – This is a simple yet powerful movement that many bodybuilders with great backs swear by. Check out Ronnie Coleman doing them here. Yates would sometimes switch this for a hammer strength machine row. Same sets and reps again, here is a form check by Ronnie Coleman again.
Always remember to squeeze the muscle at the peak of the movement, really focusing on the lats working.
5) Rackpulls (Deadlifts from the shin) – Dorian Yates mentioned that by doing the Deadlift at the end of his workout he was able to use a lighter weight, and still reap the full benefits on his back growth. Since the back is already very fatigued at this point you will not need to use the full amount of your deadlift potential. Yates also did these as a rackpull, or from the shin. This way the posterior chain didn’t need to be activated in the workout. By doing it from the shin, you can really focus on squeezing the muscles, and creating that thickness that heavy deadlifts are famous for.
How To Get Biceps Like Arnie
Let’s now get some advice from The Oak, Arnie. Famous for his incredible arms, let’s see what a typical arm day looked like for him, then we will give some explanation for the routine.
1) Barbell Curl 4 x 6 – 8
2) Alternating Dumbbell Curl 4 x 10 -12
3) Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 x 10 – 12
4) Concentration Curl 4 x 10 -12
1) Barbell Curl – Arnold would use a fairly heavy weight for this movement, as it was considered his mass building movement for biceps. His form would be a full extension to a full contraction. This contraction is important as it is something that everyone could improve on. Arnold would not stop when his forearms touched his biceps, he would move his elbows forward, and bring the bar almost to his nose. This would prolong the contraction and create a much deeper effect on the muscle. Check out a video showing proper form here.
2) Alternating Dumbbell Curl – This movement would be done to emphasize the peak contraction. Arnold would hold the rep at the top for a couple of seconds before lowering it in a controlled manner. Be sure to turn your hand as the movement reaches the top. This “supination” will heavily recruit the brachialis during the movement.
3) Incline Dumbbell Curl – This is another movement designed specifically to isolate the bicep, and give you a chance to really squeeze at the top of the movement. A lighter weight is ok to use here, as it is more about the technique being crisp rather than hurling huge weights.
4) Concentration Curl – This is the pump exercise to push as much blood into the muscle as possible. With these curls it is ok to cheat a little. Since by this point your biceps will be extremely fatigued giving them a little push upwards isn’t bad. What you must do is when you have “cheated” to get the weight up, focus on the contraction and lowering of the weight in a controlled way. This will fully burn out the muscle, and push it to grow that extra bit.
Now that’s in order it’s time to put those workouts into gear. Using these blueprints from the legends, go forth and train!