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How to Get a Body Like Hugh Jackman: Back and Biceps Workout

When it comes to superheroes, you would struggle to find one as tough and rugged as Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman has made the role his own, and a large part of this is down to his larger-than-life physique with almost comic book proportions.

Wolverine is often seen running topless through forests and hunting down his enemies with his Adamantium claws.

It’s hard to imagine this looking as cool if Jackman had a pudgy soft ‘dad bod’, so being ripped and muscular is a huge part of owning the role.

In particular, Jackman is known for his impressive back and biceps development, so we have detailed below a workout plan for you to forge your own set of biceps and lats, worthy of the big screen.

Now, we can’t promise you that this workout will help you develop an unbreakable Adamantium skeleton, but if you follow this plan you will be well on your way to developing your very own superhuman physique like Wolverine.

Why This Workout Works

We have split the workouts into a beginner workout and an advanced workout, depending on your training experience and ability.

Training of the lats will be separated into 3 movement patterns so the lats can be targeted from every angle:

  1. A vertical pull
  2. A horizontal pull
  3. A pullover

You will start with the vertical pull. Now depending on your strength level and training experience, this will be either a neutral grip chin-up (advanced) or a neutral grip lat pulldown (beginner).

You should be aiming for 4 sets of 8 reps on this exercise, focused on pulling your shoulder blades back and keeping your chest up high.

Focus on a 1-second pause in the contracted portion of each repetition and a 3-second eccentric.

Next up will be the horizontal pull, this will be dumbbell rows (advanced) or chest-supported machine rows (beginner). Again, focus on a 1-second contraction in the shortened portion of the rep and a 3-second descent. You will be aiming for 4 sets of 10 reps here.

Next we will move onto the biceps, these will also be trained from 3 angles. The stretched, the mid-range and the contracted position. We will start with the mid-range movement which will be standing EZ-bar curls (advanced) or seated 90-degree dumbbell curls (beginner). You will take a supinated (palms up) hand position and focus on a 1-second squeeze at the top of each rep with a 3 second eccentric. 4 sets of 8 reps here too.

The second biceps exercise will be focused on the stretched portion of the lift, which will be seated dumbbell curls (advanced and beginner). Set the bench to a 60-degree angle, and grab the dumbbells with a supinated (palms up) grip. You will keep your elbow behind your torso and come to a fully lengthened position at the bottom of each repetition. You will have a 3-second eccentric and a 1-second stretch on each rep. 4 sets of 10 reps here.

Finally, you will finish with a superset. Standing cable pullovers with preacher curls. These exercises will allow you to focus on the contracted part of each lift.

Cable pullovers can be tricky at first, lean slightly forward with your arms almost completely straight, holding an EZ-curl bar attachment. Think about keeping the angle at your elbow the same, and with an arc movement bringing the bar into your hips. You want a 2-second contraction on each rep and a 3-second eccentric. 3 sets of 12 here.

You will superset this with preacher curls, that means no rest between the 2 exercises. Grab an EZ curl bar and put enough weight on there for you to do 3 sets of 12 reps.

You want a 3-second eccentric and a 2-second contraction on each rep here, make sure you’re not losing tension on the biceps at the top of the rep, this is where you really need to squeeze. So there you have it, your very own back and biceps workout to get you looking like Hugh Jackman in Wolverine in no time.

Combine your high-intensity workouts with a structured meal plan for your goals and you will be well on your way to developing a physique fit for the big screen!

The Workouts

BEGINNER WORKOUT

How to Perform the Exercises

This guide is aimed at trainees with a good knowledge of the exercises and how to train safely and effectively.

If you are unsure and want access to training programmes, nutrition information and over 250+ demonstration videos, sign up for LiveUP online coaching, today or consult a qualified PT.

The Set-Up 

  • Grip the cable attachment with a neutral grip and sit down on the bench with your upper thighs securely positioned under the padding.
  • Sit up as tall as possible (keeping the ribcage tucked), with your arms fully extended above your head but avoid shrugging your shoulders up to your ears.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Keeping your torso still, initiate the movement by dropping your shoulder blades down into your back pockets (closing the gap between your armpit and your hips). Think ‘taking the elevator down’ not ‘pinching’ when it comes to the shoulder blades.
  • Draw the elbow downwards vertically (not backwards), maintaining the same torso position and high chest throughout.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when your elbows cannot travel any further without your shoulders rotating inwards and upper back rounding.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting the lats by squeezing your elbows into your sides.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Imagine you are taking your shoulder blades up and down like an elevator; allow them to move through their full range of motion rather than yanking the bar with your arms.
  • Avoid using cable attachments that are narrower than your shoulders as this can restrict your range-of-motion.
  • Use lifting straps to avoid grip becoming a limiting factor in the movement.
  • Watch how far the weight stack travels on each rep as a reference point for your range-of-motion. If this shortens significantly between the first and last rep, the weight is too heavy.
  • The arm muscles will contribute to this movement, but they should not be doing all the work. Focus on drawing the weight down using the back only; the arms should simply assist in the movement.

The Set-Up

  • Sit down facing forwards with your chest placed on the pad.
  • Place your feet firmly on the ground for stability.
  • Take a neutral grip on the handles (palms facing each other).

The Movement 

  • Begin by holding the handles at arm’s length.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back while keeping your shoulders down
  • Once in this position, think about pulling the handles into the side of your waist
  • Pull the handles back as far as you can while maintaining a shoulders back/down position
  • Take 2 seconds to lift the weight, hold for 1 second at the top and take 3 seconds to bring the weight down slow and controlled to the start position.

Trainer Tips

  • To get more out of this movement, try pushing your chest forward into the pad and keep your hips back toward the end of the bench.
  • Focus on pulling your elbows back (this will often help you to contract your lats better as opposed to your arms.

The Set-Up

  • Set up a bench at a 90-degree angle and grab two dumbbells that you could curl for 10-12 reps.
  • Sit on the bench and keep your hips and shoulders back against the pad.

The Movement 

  • Begin by holding the dumbbells at your side with fully-extended arms – your palms should be facing each other.
  • Now begin the rep by simultaneously curling both dumbbells.
  • As you curl the weight up, slowly twist the dumbbells so your palms are facing the ceiling by the time you finish the rep.
  • Lift the dumbbells up in 2 seconds, hold at the top and squeeze your biceps for 1 second, and bring the dumbbells down in 2 seconds.

Trainer Tips 

  • Once you reach failure, you can get more out of the set by doing a few alternating reps (curling the dumbbells up and down one arm at a time).
  • Let your elbows drift forwards as you curl the weight up, this will allow for a better contraction of the biceps at the top of the rep.

The Set-Up

  • Set up a bench at a 60-degree incline angle and grab 2 dumbbells that you could curl for 10-12 reps.
  • Sit on the bench and keep your hips and shoulders back against the pad.

The Movement 

  • Begin by holding the dumbbells at your side with fully-extended arms – your palms should be facing forwards.
  • Now begin the rep by simultaneously curling both dumbbells.
  • As you curl the weight up, keep your palms facing forward and keep your elbows behind your torso and shoulders back.
  • Lift the dumbbells up in 2 seconds, hold at the top and squeeze your biceps for 1 second and bring the dumbbells down in 2 seconds.

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your elbows locked in position the entire rep and squeeze your triceps at the bottom of each rep to get a full stretch of the biceps.

The Set-Up

  • Using an adjustable cable machine, set the cable just above head height and attach the EZ bar.
  • Grab the bar with straight arms, and facing towards the cable machine, step back.
  • Lean your body inwards and sit your hips back so your torso is around 45 degrees to match the line of travel of the cable pull.
  • Have a slight bend in the knees to allow you to distribute your weight and maintain balance.

The Movement

  • Keeping the arms straight, pull the cable in an arc.
  • This arc should start with the bar above your head and finish with your hands and bar in contact with your thighs.
  • Reverse the movement under control to the start position.

Trainer Tips

  • Sit your weight on your heels to maintain balance.

The Set-Up

  • Set up an EZ curl bar on a preacher bench.
  • Load enough weight to do 10 good quality reps.
  • Grab the bar with an underhand grip and keep hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your armpits into the top of the bench padding and take a seat.

The Movement

  • Curl the weight up to the top – the rep is finished when you cannot close your elbow anymore.
  • Take 2 seconds on the way up, hold and squeeze for 1 second at the top and come down in 2 seconds.
  • Just before your arm is fully extended, start your second rep.

Trainer Tips

  • Do not lose tension on the biceps at the top of the rep, instead focus on flexing the biceps as hard as possible.

ADVANCED WORKOUT

How to Perform the Exercises

The Set-Up:

  • Aim to have the necessary range-of-motion close to 180-degree shoulder flexion (raising the arm above the head)
  • Use a step/bench to get to the handles, or jump up if you can.
  • Hang in a neutral grip, cross the lower legs and squeeze the glutes.
  • Engage the shoulder blades
  • Keep the head in a neutral position.

The Movement:

  • The range-of-motion in the bottom position will be dictated by the control of the shoulder blades. Start with a little tension in the lats by engaging the shoulder blades.
  • Lead with the chest all the way and hold at the top.
  • Aim to get the shoulder blades pinched together at the top.
  • Slowly lower with control all the way down to the bottom.
  • Each rep should be initiated with the shoulder blades.

Trainer Tips: 

  • If grip fails when trying to train back, it is worth using lifting straps to support the grip.
  • Think about driving the elbows into the back pockets to maximise the contraction.
  • Try not to move the hips to get further up.
  • Don’t swing the knees forward to get that last few inches at the top of the movement.
  • Aim to keep the shoulders blades pinched together and not round at the top to finish the movement.

The Set-Up

  • Set up a flat bench and grab a dumbbell that’s heavy enough to perform 10 good-quality reps.
  • Place your left knee at the bottom of the bench and your left hand at the top of the bench.
  • Lean forward, so your back is almost horizontal to the floor.
  • This is your set-up for rowing the dumbbell with your right hand.
  • Mirror this set-up on the opposite side of your body when you switch hands.

The Movement 

  • Lean forward and grab the dumbbell with a neutral (palms facing inwards) grip.
  • Keep a nice arch in your back by sticking your butt out and keeping your chest up.
  • Pull the dumbbell in towards your hip, so that the end of the dumbbell closest to your feet touches the front of your hip bone at the end of the rep.
  • Bring the dumbbell up in 2 seconds, hold and squeeze your lats at the top for 1 second and return the dumbbell to the floor in 2 seconds.

The Set-Up

  • Load an EZ curl bar with enough weight to do 10-12 reps with good form
  • Hold the bar with an underhand grip, with hands about shoulder-width apart
  • Stand tall with arms fully extended by the sides of your body.

The Movement 

  • Curl the weight up, keeping your wrists straight
  • The rep ends when you cannot close your elbow anymore
  • Bring the bar up in 2 seconds, hold at the top and squeeze your biceps hard for 1 second, then bring the weight back to the start point in 3 seconds.

Trainer Tips

  • Allow your elbows to drift forward slightly as your curl the weight up, this will allow for a better contraction of the biceps.
  • Do not lose tension on the biceps at the top of the rep, instead focus on flexing the biceps as hard as possible.

The Set-Up

  • Set up a bench at a 60-degree incline angle and grab 2 dumbbells that you could curl for 10-12 reps.
  • Sit on the bench and keep your hips and shoulders back against the pad.

The Movement 

  • Begin by holding the dumbbells at your side with fully-extended arms – your palms should be facing forwards.
  • Now begin the rep by simultaneously curling both dumbbells.
  • As you curl the weight up, keep your palms facing forward and keep your elbows behind your torso and shoulders back.
  • Lift the dumbbells up in 2 seconds, hold at the top and squeeze your biceps for 1 second and bring the dumbbells down in 2 seconds.

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your elbows locked in position the entire rep and squeeze your triceps at the bottom of each rep to get a full stretch of the biceps.

The Set-Up

  • Using an adjustable cable machine, set the cable just above head height and attach the EZ bar.
  • Grab the bar with straight arms, and facing towards the cable machine, step back.
  • Lean your body inwards and sit your hips back so your torso is around 45 degrees to match the line of travel of the cable pull.
  • Have a slight bend in the knees to allow you to distribute your weight and maintain balance.

The Movement

  • Keeping the arms straight, pull the cable in an arc.
  • This arc should start with the bar above your head and finish with your hands and bar in contact with your thighs.
  • Reverse the movement under control to the start position.

Trainer Tips

  • Sit your weight on your heels to maintain balance.

The Set-Up

  • Set up an EZ curl bar on a preacher bench.
  • Load enough weight to do 10 good quality reps.
  • Grab the bar with an underhand grip and keep hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your armpits into the top of the bench padding and take a seat.

The Movement

  • Curl the weight up to the top – the rep is finished when you cannot close your elbow anymore.
  • Take 2 seconds on the way up, hold and squeeze for 1 second at the top and come down in 2 seconds.
  • Just before your arm is fully extended, start your second rep.

Trainer Tips

  • Do not lose tension on the biceps at the top of the rep, instead focus on flexing the biceps as hard as possible.

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