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30-Minute Pull Workout: Back and Biceps

A 30-minute pull workout at home targeting your back and bicep muscles! This pull workout routine with dumbbells builds upper body strength in your “pull” muscles (back and biceps), while also raising your heart rate with quick cardio bursts.

Ever since we published this popular Push Day Workout (targeting the chest, shoulders and triceps), my DMs have been full of requests for a pull day workout.

Split training muscle groups is my favorite way to strength train because it maximizes muscle growth. Dedicating an entire day to one muscle group, such as your pull muscles, means you can truly fatigue the muscles by maximizing reps and weight load.

If you want to try more split training workouts, I highly recommend our FREE 2-Week SplitStrong Program. It’s our most popular workout plan to date, and can be completed entirely at home.

Women performing a single arm hammer curl with dumbbell, back and bicep workout at home

Pull Workout FAQs

What Are Push-Pull Workouts?

Push-pull training structures workouts based on your muscles’ movement patterns. The key difference between push workouts and pull workouts is the order in which the muscle contracts (shortens) and extends (lengthens). During push exercises, the muscles starts short and ends the movement long. During pull exercises, the muscle starts the movement long and ends shortened.

What Is A Pull Workout?

A pull workout, or pull day workout, focuses on muscles that contract. In other words, a pulling movement closes the joints when you pull weight towards you. Think of how your bicep flexes as you pull a weight up towards your shoulder in a bicep curl.

How Can I Do Pull Exercises At Home?

If you search “pull workout” on Google the majority of the search results include upper body pull exercises that require gym equipment or a pull up bar, like: lat pull downs, pull ups, seated rows, and barbell curls. Bottom line, you want to incorporate vertical pulls (like a pullover) and horizontal pulls (like a row) into your routines. You can achieve this at home using just a set of dumbbells. Follow along with the exercises outlined in today’s 30-minute pull workout at home.

Women performing a Single Arm Back Row with dumbbell | pull workout

30-Minute PULL Workout At Home: Back, Biceps and Cardio

Back, biceps and cardio — this PULL workout routine is perfect for building upper body strength at home and can be scaled for beginners or advanced athletes.

This workout alternates upper body pull exercises with cardio Tabata intervals to build muscle and burn calories at home in 30 minutes. A challenging upper body split training workout to add to your weekly workout routine.

Workout Equipment:

Medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells (8-30 lbs). 

I toggled between 15 lb dumbbells and 20 lb dumbbells during this pull day workout.

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Pull Workout on YouTube (back and biceps workout), led by certified personal trainer Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 3 Circuits – one circuit for back, one circuit for biceps, and one combo back and biceps circuit.
  • 2 Dumbbell Strength Exercises Per Muscle Group – 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest, repeat x 3 sets.
  • 2 Cardio Tabata Exercises in Each Circuit 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, repeat x 3 sets.

Alternatively, work through the pull day exercises below at your own pace. I’ve included GIFs and how to do the six upper body pull exercises below.

PULL Workout At Home: Back, Biceps and Cardio

CIRCUIT ONE: Back
Strength

1. Single Arm Dumbbell Row
2. Dumbbell Pullover
Cardio Tabata
1. Lateral Hop and Burpee Row
2. Lateral Shuffle Over Dumbbells

CIRCUIT TWO: Biceps
Strength
1. Single, Single, Double Bicep Curls
2. 4 Hammer Curls and Isometric Bicep Hold and Pulse
Cardio Tabata
1. Jab, Hook, Knee
2. Plank Jacks and Shoulder Taps

CIRCUIT THREE: Back and Biceps
Strength
1. 2 Reverse Grip Rows and 2 Bicep Curls
2. Single Arm Back Fly and Hammer Curl
Cardio Tabata
1. ½ Burpee and Single Arm Back Row
2. Lateral Shuffles and Isometric Bicep Hold

Women performing a single arm dumbbell back fly or reverse fly

6 Best Upper Body Pull Exercises At Home

Single Arm Row

Targets: The latissimus dorsi (or lats); largest back muscle. This unilateral exercise (working one side of the body at a time) also engages the bicep and core.

Trainer Tip: I recommend taking a staggered stance (as shown below) to take the pressure off your low back. Alternatively you can place your left knee and hand on a bench or chair to better support your low back.

how to do a single arm back row with dumbbell

How To Do A Single Arm Row

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Option to keep feet parallel or take a slightly staggered stance to better support your low back (stepping your right leg slightly behind your left leg). Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing in towards your left thigh (overhand grip).
  2. Hinge forward at the hips maintaining a flat back, belly button pulled back towards your spine.
  3. Pull the dumbbell back towards your right hip (think of pulling from your elbow joint versus your wrist), as if you were starting a pull-start lawnmower. Stop once your elbow is in line with your rib cage, making a straight line from shoulder to elbow. Hold the row at the top for a moment squeezing your shoulder blade in.
  4. With control, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and repeat.

Dumbbell Pullover

Targets: The lats (latissimus dorsi), core and abs.

how to do a dumbbell pullover, back exercise with weights

How To Do A Lying Overhead Pull Or Dumbbell Pullover

  1. Lay flat on your back with legs bent at 90 degrees. Hold one or two dumbbells in your hands with arms extended overhead (one dumbbell horizontally or two dumbbells vertically).
  2. With a slight bend in the elbows, slowly lower the dumbbells overhead towards the ground. Range of motion will look different for everyone, but you should try to keep your low back pressed into the mat/ground.
  3. Then exhale as you pull the dumbbells back overhead, engaging the lats. Think of pulling your armpits down towards your hips to return back to the starting position.

Single, Single, Double Bicep Curls

Targets: The bicep muscles (upper arms), brachialis (mid-arm) and brachioradialis (forearm) as well as the core and abs.

how to do alternating bicep curls with dumbbells

How To Do Single, Single, Double Bicep Curls

  1. Start with feet hip-width apart and core engaged. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, alternate curling the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. Perform one curl on the left arm, and one curl on the right arm.
  3. Then perform a double curl with both arms at the same time.

4 Hammer Curls And Isometric Bicep Hold And Pulse

Targets: The bicep muscles, specifically the long head of the bicep.

how to do hammer curls with dumbbells

How To Do 4 Hammer Curls And An Isometric Bicep Hold And Pulse

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in towards each other (hammer curl or overhand grip).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder-height.
  3. With control, lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position. Repeat to perform 4 hammer curls.
  4. Then hold your bicep curl halfway in the hammer curl position (elbows at 90-degree angles) and pulse for a 4-count.

2 Reverse Grip Rows And 2 Bicep Curls

Targets: The lower back, upper back (lats and rhomboids) and bicep muscles.

This is a true compound upper body pull exercise.

how to do a reverse grip row and bicep curl with weights

How To Do Reverse Grip Rows And Bicep Curls

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand/reverse grip or supine curl).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, curl the weights up towards your shoulders. Perform two supine bicep curls.
  3. Then hinge forward at the hips and perform two bent over reverse grip back rows. Dumbbells facing out, away from your body (reverse grip), pull the weights back towards your hips as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Stop once your elbows are in line with your rib cage, making a straight line from shoulder to elbow.
  4. Control the dumbbells back down to the starting position.

Single Arm Back Fly And Hammer Curl

Targets: The rear delts (rear shoulders), and major upper back muscles including the rhomboids and trapezius; as well as the biceps and core. A compound, unilateral exercise that requires core engagement while targeting the back and bicep muscles.

Trainer Tip: Again, I recommend taking a staggered stance (as shown below) to take the pressure off your low back.

how to do a single arm back fly and hammer curl

How To Do A Single Arm Back Fly And Hammer Curl

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Option to keep feet parallel or take a slightly staggered stance to better support your low back (stepping your right leg slightly behind your left leg).
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing in toward your left thigh.
  3. Keeping your right elbow locked by your side, squeeze your right bicep muscle to curl the weight up toward your right shoulder. With control, lower the dumbbell back to starting position.
  4. Then hinge forward at the hips and perform a single arm bent over back fly. Pulling the dumbbell out to the right side of your body, up to shoulder-height and squeezing your right shoulder blade.
  5. Control the dumbbell back down as you return to the starting position.

More Upper Body Push/Pull Workout Routines:

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