Build Your Back and Biceps With a resistance Band

The row is one of the most fundamental strength training exercises out there, critical for growing the back muscle that your body needs. It also strengthens something else, too: Your biceps.

“Every row rep you do,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S, “recruits back muscles like your rhomboids and lats, and asks your biceps and forearm muscles to come along for the ride too.”

So why not take advantage of that to work two muscle groups at once? That’s what you’re going to do today in a simple resistance band series that you can do anytime, anywhere with a single band. Called the Band Row-to-Curl Countup, it’ll blast both bodyparts, and hit your abs more than you may think, too.

The best part, says Samuel. “It’s simple. All you’re going to do is sit down (quite literally) and get to work.”

The band row-to-curl countup has you alternating a row rep with a curl rep, and doing so in ways that build critical strength. You’re also doing it from a seated pike position, which just may give you a nice hamstring stretch too. “This series is simple to execute,” says Samuel, “but there’s plenty of extra bang-for-your-buck going on on every rep.”

Your abs also continually come into play, says Samuel, because it’s harder than you think to maintain proper seated posture. “Your challenge is to not hunch over,” he says. “Especially during the biceps curl portion of the action, it’s convenient to let your shoulders row forward. You can’t let that happen, which requires locking in abs and spinal extensors.”

The best part: All you need is a looped resistance band. Not sure where to get one? Try this option from SPRI.

  • Start in seated position, legs straight, band wrapped around your feet, core tight. Arms should hold the ends of the resistance band.
  • Relax your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Pull the band back toward your ribcage, focusing on pulling from the elbows. Return to the start. That’s 1 rep. Do 1 rep.
  • Immediately tighten your core, rotate your palms so they face skyward. Without moving your elbows above your shoulders, curl the bands toward your torso, squeeze when you get near the top. Do 1 rep.
  • Return to rowing position. Do 2 row reps, followed by 2 curl reps.
  • Repeat the pattern until you’ve done 5 row reps and 5 curl reps.
  • Do 3 sets.

    The Row-to-Curl Countup can be used in a variety of situations, including as a speedy home standalone workout of its own, says Samuel. “You can easily do this one in front of the TV and get plenty of benefit,” he says. “You can use it as a key part of a strength circuit, or anytime throughout the day, if you need quick, good movement.”

    And you can never have enough good movement.

    For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.