T Nation

Back/Bi Day of a Split, What Comes First?


#1

I've had a back/bicep day in my split for over 5 months, but i've always worked through all of my back exercises before moving on to the bicep exercises. After thinking about it, would it be better to place biceps first? It would both make sure that the biceps aren't pre-exhausted by the pulling exercises that use the biceps as a supplemental muscle, and make sure that the lats and back muscle bear the brunt of the load on said exercises.

I know that quite a few people have a back/bicep day in their splits. Thoughts?

(I'm aware that I halfway answered my own questions, I'm more looking to see if anyone has a good reason to keep back first, or if people agree with this thought.)


#2

Why not put bis on your chest day?


#3

I usually have biceps with back (AFTER back), simply because of the overlap,... I've been able to get away with less overall volume of direct bicep work. Now before someone goes on a 'wouldnt your biceps be bigger if' line of questioning,.. remember that your biceps are a relatively small muscle group, and too many trainers who focus excessively on their bis either have smaller biceps as a result, OR their back development lags quite a bit behind the rest of their physqiue (this is usually the case).

S


#4

My thoughts on why back is usually worked before biceps on a back/bi day.

Perform the heavier compound exercise when you are fresh.

You need more grip strength for rows and deads than curls so don't tax it with biceps exercises before the real work begins.

Heavier rows will do more for your upper arm than heavier curls so if doing biceps first reduces the weight used for compound movement you are doing less for your arms not more.

I like to use fat gripz when doing bicep work and that would ruin my heavy lifts.

If your arms are tired when pulling your form may break down and cause you to use momentum or jerk or twist trying to lift the weigh.

Just my thoughts but you should try it yourself and see how it works out for you. When I feel I need extra bicep work I'll just add a few sets at the end of a leg or chest/tri day or do some chins on off days. Another option is a weakness day. If you're doing a 3 or 4 day split add another day to focus on weak points. Could be biceps + upper chest + abs or calf work. Whatever it is you feel needs attention.


#5

Hmm. Interesting. I see what you mean Stu and Wilba. I was just considering the idea. I can see how grip strength could be a concern. Stu, you don't think that having exhausted biceps would result in more recruitment of the lats and muscles of the back? Wilba, I figure that if my forearms and grip were worn out by the time I got to back exercises, I could use straps as i'd have already gotten in some grip work.

Chimera, I've looked at the antagonistic muscle splits and know some people get great results from them, I just don't feel like shifting to one, that's all.


#6

Back and biceps day is usually a double sesh for me.


#7

Alrighty, just figured I'd suggest it as I've noticed my performance on bis increase by switching the days around.


#8

I understand your thinking, but as the sheer muscle size differential between the lats and the biceps is so great, the chances of your bicep becoming the 'limiting factor' in your back work will pretty much ensure that you will not be able to do enough actual work to fatigue the lats at all.

S


#9

Unfortunately, including transportation, I'm gone from 6:00 AM to 4:30 PM for my job. That makes twice a day training out of the question for me. Once school starts back up in the fall, maybe.


#10

Are you saying that your biceps aren't strong enough to make a difference in your back training? Or are you saying that if you trained biceps before lats then you wouldn't be able to train your lats due to your biceps being fatigued? Maybe I'm failing at reading comprehension, I don't know. I'm tired.


#11

This is the big thing, I think. The chain is as strong as the weak link in it.

Here's my advice. 3 out of every 4 workouts do back first. Take 10-15 minutes between back and biceps. Do abs, calves, bosuball squats, drink some carbs/whey, whatever. Then do biceps

The other day do biceps first then take some time and do back.


#12

I hear you man....today I did back and biceps in one shot, either way is good, and my biceps are still feeling strong after hitting back.

Anyways, just because you won't be able to curl as much training biceps after back, doesn't mean your biceps are not getting stronger and also doesn't mean they aren't getting worked as hard.


#13

Yeah that's true. I was more intrigued by the idea of maximizing back isolation than increasing curl poundages. I usually do back before biceps, and actually had a really good session this week. I was just considering the option.


#14

If you want to isolate your back more then lower your weights a bit and focus on consciously contracting and pulling with your back not just moving the weight from point A to B. I've gotten to the point where I have such good mind muscle connection to my back that I can get very little stimulation to my biceps on my back movements. If you're really having trouble with back isolation then you can start with some activation work for lats, such as stiff arm pulldowns or pullovers, or for mid back I find "voyeur shrugs" work well.