Posted on

A Back And Bicep Workout With Boris

If you’re looking to work your back and biceps like never before, this is the workout for you. 

Back and Biceps

The Workout

1ST Giant Set x 3 or 4 total sets:

  • Lat pulldowns 5 reps at RPE 9
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls 10 reps at RPE 9
  • Cable Pullovers 15 reps at RPE 8.5

2nd Giant Set x 3 or 4 total sets:

  • Barbell Curls 5 reps at RPE 9
  • Wide-grip Cable Rows 10 reps at RPE 9
  • Deadlifts/Shrugs 15 reps at RPE 8.5

3rd Giant Set x 3 or 4 total sets: Unilateral exercises (one arm at a time)

  • Machine Row  5 reps at RPE 9
  • Dumbbell Row 10 reps at RPE 9
  • Concentration Curls 15 reps at RPE 8.5

Why giant sets?

Giant sets are very useful when trying to manipulate the benefits and hormonal responses of lactic acid build up. When the intensity is high, the training duration can be much shorter than regular ‘bro splits’. The rest between giant sets should also be kept to a minimum – 1 to 3 minutes max! The more comfortable you get with this kind of training, the shorter your rest period will be. Also, I try to hit each muscle group twice per week. So the week usually looks like:

  1. Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
  2. Legs, Calves
  3. Back, Biceps
  4. Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
  5. Legs, Calves
  6. Back, Biceps
  7. Rest

I also use the same method for CST days and Leg days as the rep ranges for the exercises allow me to hit all muscle fibres and therefore stimulate maximal hypertrophy. Feel free to experiment with different exercises and try to hit each muscle with all the rep ranges. On CST days for example 5 reps for Chest in your 1st Giant Set, 10 reps in your 2nd and 15 reps in your 3rd (single arm presses or flyes).

Why unilateral exercises?

I prefer to finish off my training with unilateral exercises as they help me focus more on the movement and the contraction. It gets a bit tricky on leg days, but there’s always lunges, split squats, single leg extensions and curls. Other benefits of unilateral training include: core stabilisation, fixing imbalances, decrease injury risks, and improve muscular stimulation; therefore helping to ensure optimal development.

What is RPE?

A relatively popular way of measuring the intensity of effort is using an RPE (rating of perceived exertion) scale based on repetitions in reserve (RIR). Essentially, RPE is based on how close to failure you get at the conclusion of each set. You simply do your sets and choose how close to failure you wish to get. An RPE 10 would be at failure (or rather, no additional load or reps could have been performed), an RPE 9 would be one rep left, an RPE 8 would be two.

Why is this important? Sometimes when you’re in a fatigued state, you may underperform. For example, let’s say your performance was slightly suppressed due to residual fatigue, but you had 5 reps at 85% of 1RM programmed. Feeling great, you might finish this set with 1 RIR (a 9 RPE). However, in a fatigued state, this might end up being to failure or you might even miss the final rep. To avoid this, I use an RPE as a reference to allow me to adjust the load as needed to match the intended stress. The table below outlines the scale:

RPE 

Classification

10Could not do more reps or load
9.5Could not do more reps, could do slightly more load
9Could do 1 more repetition
8.5Could definitely do 1 more repetition, possibly 2
8Could do 2 more repetitions
7.5Could definitely do 2 more repetitions, possibly 3
7Could do 3 more repetitions
5-6Could do 4 to 6 more repetitions
1-4Very light effort

 

For more on RPE, check out the following study:
Helms, E. R., Cronin, J., Storey, A., & Zourdos, M. C. (2016). Application of the Repetitions in Reserve-Based Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale for Resistance Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal38(4), 42–49.