Build a Bigger Back and Supersize Your Arms with Just Two Dumbbells

dumbbell workout
Build a Bigger Back and Biceps with Two DumbbellsSeventyFour - Getty Images

There’s a mantra in gym bro culture that goes something like ‘don’t avoid the muscles you can’t see in the mirror’. But if you find that out of sight often equals out of mind, you might try sweetening the deal a little by pairing the ones you can’t see, with the ones you can.

Two muscle groups that get along devilishly well are the back and biceps. Both ‘pulling’ muscles; you’re hard pushed to hit the muscles of your back — such as your lats, rhomboids and traps — without activating those biceps, so using one to exhaust the other just makes sense.

If you’re short on kit or just want to avoid faff in the gym, this dumbbell-only workout is designed to require just a single pair. Complete five rounds of the first pairing, leaving no rest between movement one and two but taking 90 seconds between each round, before doing the same with pairing two.

Keep your form tight throughout and focus on moving slowly into a good stretch, before pulling explosively into a big squeeze on each and every rep to fully maximise the muscle building effect.

5 rounds of

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weights, press up, arm, exercise equipment, kettlebell, muscle, physical fitness, chest, dumbbell, fitness professional,

A1. Renegade row x 10 (each side/ twenty total)

Drop into a strong plank with both hands on your dumbbells (A). Shifting your weight onto your left hand, row the right dumbbell towards your hip (B). Pause briefly, then lower the weight under control. Repeat on your left side. Alternate back and forth until you hit twenty total reps.

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weights, exercise equipment, muscle, shoulder, arm, dumbbell, standing, kettlebell, sports equipment, bodybuilding,

A2. Hang power cleans x 10

Get back to your feet after your final row, dumbbells hanging loose. Hinge at the hips to lower them to your knees (A). Stand back up explosively with a slight jump, using the momentum to pull the dumbbells on to your shoulders (B). Stand up straight, then lower under control to your sides and repeat.

5 rounds of

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weights, exercise equipment, shoulder, overhead press, kettlebell, arm, dumbbell, physical fitness, standing, muscle,

B1. Bent Over Row x 10

Stand tall with your dumbbells hanging at your sides and hinge at the hips until your chest is parallel to the floor, dumbbells hanging at your shins (A). Maintaining a flat back, row both dumbbells towards your torso (B), squeeze your shoulder blades together and lower under control to the start before repeating. Control the bells and avoid moving your torso, rest your head on the back of a bench to help keep your form.

B2. Single Dumbbell Bicep Curl x 20

Stand upright and drop one of your ‘bells, grip the remaining bell with both hands, holding the outer ‘heads’ palms facing each other (A). With minimal momentum, curl the dumbbell upwards until it’s beneath your chin (B). Squeeze here and lower the weight under control, fighting it all of the way. Complete 20 controlled reps.

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