I'm always looking for new ways to make my workouts more effective and efficient. Some lifters will try to tell you there's a "right" way and a "wrong" way to train, but the truth is that you need to find what works best for you as an individual. Lift safe and keep pushing yourself, but never feel like you can't make adjustments to your routine.
For instance, my back and biceps workout is all about efficiency: getting the most out of my time in the gym so I can get in, get out, and know that I did everything I could while I was there. By making a few adjustments, I'm able to use the angles of my arms to my advantage, stimulating more muscle growth and helping myself become even stronger.
Perform some light cardio for a few minutes, warm up your arms with some practice lifts, then dive in!
Pull-up: Think you're a pull-up pro? Try adding weights as you progress through your reps. If you struggle with pull-ups, however, just grab a resistance band, loop it through the bar at the top, hook your feet in, and use that for assistance.
My entire workout takes advantage of the angles that best work your target muscles. Most people will try to get their chin above the bar when doing pull-ups, but going that high makes your biceps do nearly all of the work. Big biceps are great, but don't cheat your back here. In the video, you'll see that I stop just short of bringing my chin to the bar. This way, I keep the tension on my lats at the end of the range of motion.
Single-arm dumbbell row: Again, learning the correct angle on this move will help you target your lats instead of letting other muscles shoulder the burden. Extend forward, scoop back, and then complete the movement by bringing your elbow up. Your movement should look like the letter J. You know, for Jeremy…
Close-grip cable row: Use a close-grip attachment, which will put your hands in the neutral position and help keep your elbows tight against your sides. Bring your torso back to a 90-degree angle, but don't lean back any farther. If you do, it becomes a rocking motion that cheats you out of some of the potential benefits of the move.
Single-arm spider curl: Perform this one-armed curl face-down on an incline bench to target the short head of your biceps. To further ensure you're not letting other muscles take over, concentrate on squeezing your biceps on the way up and then lowering with control. My favorite hack is to place my free hand under my working elbow for the first few reps, creating a makeshift platform from which to start the curl. Once I have the form down and know I'm working in the correct range of motion, I remove my hand.
Hammer curl: Using a neutral grip on the hammer curl allows you to target the smaller arm flexors. I'm a huge fan of using increased time under tension—the practice of keeping your muscles contracted for slightly longer periods of time—for hypertrophy. The easiest way to do this is through negatives, the lowering portion of the curl. Bring the weight up as you normally would. Then, instead of just letting the weight drop, bring it down a bit more slowly than usual to a count of 4.
This is hands-down one of my favorite back and biceps routines. If you decide to take a crack at it, let me know how it goes in the comments below!