There's nothing fancy about this back-and-bis workout. You'll do rack pulls, pull-ups, dumbbell rows, curls—throw in a superset, lots of lifting to failure—and you'll light up your lats and biceps with the classics. This Lean Strength workout by Team Athlete and fitness coach Lee Constantinou will be big on form, big on weights, and big on growth.

Compared to some bodybuilding workouts, you get lots of rest but not because Lee Constantinou is a nice guy (although he is). He wants you to be able to fully recuperate between sets so you can apply maximum intensity at every set.

"If you rush your rest, you're not going to have that same focus and intensity," Constantinou says. "Work hard, rest, and focus on your technique. You'll see bigger, wider lats and beefier biceps."

Enough said. Strap in and let's get going!

Lee Constantinou's Lean Strength Workout
Rack pull
5 sets, 5 Reps (Rest 3 min.)
+ 7 more exercises


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Lee's Technique Keys

Rack pull: After warming up adequately, load your 5RM weight and see if it lives up to its name. A sixth rep should feel like a questionable proposition in each set. Keep your back straight, chest lifted, core tight. Sit back on your heels and drive through your hips; squeeze your glutes as you drive up. Pull your shoulder blades back so you can engage your lats; squeeze your lower back muscles as you lift. Use straps if you need to. Rest the full 3 minutes so you're ready to give it your all in every single set.

Weighted wide-grip pull-up: If a set of 6 reps isn't anywhere near failure for you, load up with either chains or a belt—whatever you have access to. Make sure you grip is outside shoulder width, and keep your chest lifted throughout the movement to fully engage your back muscles. Try not to round your shoulders forward, or you'll lose tension in your lats. Use part of your rest period to add more chain or more weights to your belt so you can hit failure at 6 reps.

Lee Constantinou's Lean Strength Workout

Weighted Wide-Grip Pull-Up

Single-arm dumbbell row: Start with a warm-up set using light weight, then take 3 sets to failure at around 8 reps apiece. Use a slightly inclined bench to reduce pressure on your lower back and so you can fully engage and then stretch out your lats. Go straight from one arm to the other, working the weaker side first if possible. Keep your workout balanced so you isolate each lat equally. Then rest up.

Pull-down superset: You're not going to rest between exercises here, but you will get a 2-minute rest between supersets. You'll start the superset with a compound movement, the underhand pull-down, and then then move into an isolation exercise, the straight-arm pull-down. In both exercises, if the first set it too easy, make sure you increase the weight enough so you can maintain intensity, but no so much that you can't hit those 10 reps.

Lee Constantinou's Lean Strength Workout

Underhand Lat Pull-Down

Barbell curl: Use just the bar for a warm-up set, then go straight to a weight where you'll fail at right around 8 reps per set. Keep your knees slightly flexed and your feet hip-width apart. Pull you shoulder blades back and fully straighten out your arms so you can get a full stretch across your biceps. At these heavier weights, you can relax your technique slightly to get the weights up. Just be sure you can control the negative portion and fully straighten your arms at the end to give your biceps a good stretch.

Standing hammer curls: Go heavy to the bitter end! Use a weight that causes you to fail at around 8 reps. Focus on squeezing each biceps on the way up, then slowly control the weight on the way down. Toward the end, if you find yourself loosening up your technique to raise the weight, be sure to balance it by focusing on a slow, controlled negative movement.

Lee Constantinou's Lean Strength Workout

Standing Hammer Curl

Slot this workout into your rotation for 4-6 weeks. It's heavy on both weight and failure, so once a week should be plenty!

About the Author

Hobart Swan

Hobart Swan

Hobart Swan formerly wrote and edited for He also worked as a producer of health content for CBS Radio, and as a health-content specialist at Healthwise, the nation’s...

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