10 Minute Back and Biceps Workout to Try Today to Quickly Sculpt Lean Muscles
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Short on time but still want to get in a quick workout without having to go to the gym? Using dumbbells is a great way to get in a short, but effective back and biceps workout at home. This routine is in the format of a “quad set”. It has nothing to do with working your quadriceps (the large muscles in front of your thigh). No, in this case, doing a quad set means that you will do 4 exercises back to back with no rest in between each move.
This quick routine works two muscle groups (the back and the biceps). And by switching back and forth in a pattern of back-biceps-back-biceps, it requires your muscles to work hand in hand.
How to Choose Your Starting Weights
You’ll want to use heavier weights for the pullovers (the first exercise) and lighter weights for the 2 types of biceps curls and the reverse flys. But how much you use will depend on your goals and current strength. You’ll want to challenge yourself, but above all else, your form is more important than lifting heavy.
After the first set, if you feel like you could do all 10 reps with little effort and that you could do many more repetitions, consider increasing your weight a little bit. Try increasing by 3-5lbs at a time and see how you do with more weight.
After the second set, it should feel even heavier. If you can go back into the pullovers and do all 10 reps and not feel like you’re struggling even a little bit without losing your form, I encourage you to go heavier and challenge yourself.
By the 7th or 8th rep, if you are starting to struggle a little, you are using the right amount of weight for you.
I’m currently using 25-35lbs for the pullovers and anywhere between 9-18lbs for the reverse flys and biceps curls. If you are brand new to working out, start at a lower weight and follow the guidelines I laid out above. As you start to build muscles and build your strength up, you can slowly increase your weights each week you do this routine. You can incorporate this into your workout routine once a week or up to 3 times/week, but make sure to give your muscles a chance to recover by taking at least 1 day off before doing this routine again.
How Many Repetitions Should You Do?
As I mentioned above, this really will depend on your current fitness level and what you want to accomplish.
- If you simply want to tone and get a leaner look, I recommend using light to medium weights and doing more reps, 12-15.
- To build lean muscle, I recommend using medium to moderately heavy weights and doing 8-10 reps.
- If you want to build major muscles, I recommend using heavy weights and aim for 5 reps.
10 Minute Back and Biceps Workout Routine
Quad set – Pullovers, Top Curls, Reverse Flys, Bottom Curls with about a 10-15 second transition between each exercise. The idea is that you want to move constantly and not take any long breaks until you have completed the set.
Always start out by doing a quick warm up to loosen your muscles and get them ready to work. You can start with 30 seconds each of jogging in place, jumping jacks, high kicks, squats, and arm circles.
Exercise #1 – Pullovers (back exercise)
How to do to Pullovers:
- Start on the ground (or on a bench).
- Holding the weight up, in line with your chest. Note: Use a diamond grip where you bring your palms right under the bell of the weight and wrap your thumbs around the bell.
- Lower the weight down over the top of your head, then right back up to the top, squeezing as you lift the weight right back up in line with your shoulders and chest.
This is a slow and controlled exercise. Use a 3 count as you lower the weight down and back up. Think, “Back 2-3, Up-2-3”. This move works your lat muscles (or latissimus dorsi), the largest muscles in your back.
Don’t lift so heavy that you cannot maintain a firm grip and control of your weights. Remember, your safety and form are more important than lifting heavier weights.
Exercise #2 – Top Curls (triceps exercise)
How to do to Top Curls:
- Stand up and lighten your weight.
- With feet shoulder width apart, tighten and engage your core.
- Start by raising your weights to the top position, elbows pinned to your sides (this will isolate your biceps).
- Lower the weights halfway down, until your arms are in a 90-degree angle and parallel with the ground.
- Then curl the weights all the way back up.
Use a mirror to check your form so that you don’t extend your arms too far down.
Exercise #3 – Reverse Fly (back exercise)
How to do to a Reverse Fly:
- Lighten your weights, if you need to, and get into lifting position.
- While standing with feet shoulder width apart, bend over to about a 45-degree angle while keeping your back straight.
- Let your arms hand down in front of you with your elbows slightly bent.
- Slowly lift the weights up as you squeeze your shoulder blades up and back until your weights are level with your shoulders. Note: Pretend you are squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades.
- Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
Make sure you are controlling the movement and the weights by using your upper back muscles. Don’t let them swing or allow gravity to drag them down quickly. Also, don’t arch your back or hunch over. If you find that you are, decrease your weights and pay attention to your form.
This exercise works the muscles of the upper and middle back, particularly the rhomboids and trapezius. They also work your posterior deltoids, which are the main muscles on the back of the shoulders.
Exercise #4 – Bottom Curls (triceps exercise)
How to do to Bottom Curls:
Start with your weights all the way at the bottom, lift halfway up, and then all the way down.
- With your feet shoulder width apart, tighten and engage your core.
- Start with your weights all the way at the bottom position, elbows pinned to your sides (this will isolate your biceps).
- Slowly lift the dumbbells halfway up, until your arms are in a 90-degree angle and parallel with the ground.
- Then slowly curl the weights all the way back down.
Again, use a mirror to check your form so that you don’t extend your arms too far down. If you don’t have a mirror, use your phone to record your workout and watch it back to see how your form is and make corrections if necessary.
Completing the Quad Sets
After you finish all 4 exercises, take a short 30-second break and then repeat 2 more times, for a total of 3 sets. This quick back and biceps workout should take you a total of 10 minutes.
When you’re done with all 3 sets, your heart rate may be elevated. You’ll want to do a cooldown routine and stretch your back and biceps muscles.
Mix Up Your Routine with Another Back and Biceps Workout
I do dumbbell routines like this at home on a daily basis. I change up my routines by streaming a different workout each day, so I never get bored. Plus, I get to do my workout with a trainer who is continually giving tips, showing correct form and making recommendations on what to focus on throughout the workout. It’s like having my own personal trainer without having to leave my house!
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Check out some of my favorite weight training programs that are included with a membership to Beachbody on Demand:
80 Day Obsession
Hammer & Chisel
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