Pull Day in the Gym — Shaun Clarida’s Intense Back and Biceps Workout

Former 212 Olympia champ Shaun Clarida shares how he trains heavy for a big, wide back.

On May 2, 2022, IFBB pro bodybuilder Shaun Clarida captivated his YouTube audience with a high-intensity pull day. The back-and-biceps training session consisted of pull-ups, heavy row variationsfree weight movements, and machines

After winning the 212 Olympia title in 2020 and dropping the crown the following year to reigning champ Derek Lunsford, Clarida is determined to reclaim his throne at the 2022 Olympia scheduled for December 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV. Which crown remains a mystery as Clarida has not shared which division he intends to compete in at the 2022 Olympia. He is qualified to compete in the Open division as he won the Legion Sports Fest 2021.

Clarida still has a few months left in his off-season to gain muscle, and his current plan seems to be working. Watch the full back-and-biceps workout via the video below. The first exercise starts at the 3:24:

[Related: These Are Jay Cutler’s Top 4 Chest-Building Exercises]

Calves Training

The calves are notorious for their stubbornness to grow, so to help remedy this, Clarida trains them three times per week, including before back training. 

What works best for me…has always been frequency.

Clarida began with toe presses, also known as leg press calf raises. He avoids going too heavy on this movement, noting the injury risks for the ankle joints and surrounding tendons. The top 212 competitor typically aims for 20-30 reps; however, during this session, he loaded five 45-pound weight plates on each side and pumped out fifteen reps for his heaviest set, followed by a drop set

Assisted Pull-Ups

What better way to kick off a back workout than with the classic pull-up. However, Clarida prefers the machine version that provides assistance on the way up and prevents dropping too quickly on the way down. 

Taking the legs out of the movement helps to avoid using momentum, which keeps all the tension on the target muscles. Clarida assumed a reverse angled grip to emphasize the contraction in his lats. He used lifting straps for this exercise and the subsequent back movements. The reps were performed with a slow and controlled tempo.

Meadows Rows and Hammer Strength Low Row

To build more thickness in the upper-outer lats, Clarida included the Meadows row, named after his former coach and late IFBB pro bodybuilder John Meadows.

When I hit that rear lat spread or open the lats from the back, that width is there.

Clarida follows a “Mountain Dog” training program created by Meadows that focuses on developing a wider back — highly desired on the world’s biggest bodybuilding stage. The former champ used his Meadows core blaster single handle that slides onto the end of the barbell and offers a more comfortable grip.


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A post shared by IFBB Pro Shaun Clarida (@shaunclarida)

[Related: Watch Chris Bumstead Train Legs With Men’s Physique Bodybuilder Christian Guzman]

Clarida prefers 25-pound plates for these rows as it allows for a larger range of motion. The champion bodybuilder brought out his “Giant Killer” lifting belt to help him pull six plates for the last set. The next movement was Hammer Strength low rows to hit the outer lats using an angled grip. Clarida worked up to a session best of five plates per peg and ground out a tough twelve repetitions.

Cable High Row Pulldown and Rack Pull

Using the double-D V-shaped attachment, Clarida leaned back into a cable pulldown, bringing the handle to his chest to really hammer the upper back. He performed a warm-up, one or two feeder sets (in between a warmup and working set to failure), and two to three working sets. 

We’re using the whole entire back, top to bottom, instead of…going through that motion of just just ripping it.

To build strength and mass in the entire upper posterior chain, Clarida set a barbell to knee height for a round of rack pulls, where he mimicked the setup for a rear lat spread bodybuilding pose. Two sets were shown. 

Dumbbell Pullover

Shaun Clarida went old-school for his last back exercise — the dumbbell pullover. This is a versatile movement that can work more of the back or chest depending on how it’s performed. The bodybuilding veteran likes this variation to build impressive lats from the front. Clarida performed three sets of 12 reps with the 45, 70, and 90-pound dumbbells, respectively, really stretching out the lats.

Reverse-Grip Barbell Curl and Incline Machine Curl

Biceps training is also a part of Clarida’s pull day workout sessions. His first pick of the session was reverse grip barbell biceps curls using an EZ curl bar. Clarida likes this exercise to build the brachialis (muscle underneath the biceps) and brachioradialis forearm muscle. (1) Three to four sets were performed.

To round out the pull day, Clarida finished with one of his favorite biceps machines that replicate the dumbbell seated incline curl, a great stretch, and contractive movement. The pro competitor did two to three sets and called it a day.


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A post shared by IFBB Pro Shaun Clarida (@shaunclarida)

[Related: Check Out Strongman Terry Hollands’ Physique Transformation for His Return to Bodybuilding]

Shaun Clarida’s Pull Day Workout 

Below you’ll find the exercises provided in the same order performed by Shaun Clarida during his back day session. Due to the video editing and provided information, we could not provide an accurate number of sets and reps from the workout. 

  • Leg Press Calf Raise
  • Assisted Pull-Up
  • Meadows Rows
  • Hammer Strength Low Row
  • Cable High Row Pulldown
  • Rack Pulls
  • Dumbbell Pullover
  • Reverse-Grip EZ Barbell Curl
  • Incline Machine Curl

Clarida has a lot of options and potential heading into the 2022 Olympia. The “Giant Killer” will have to overcome the man he both defeated and lost to in 2020 and 2021, respectively, plus a fierce lineup of 212 athletes, assuming he attempts to reclaim the 212 crown. However, if his recent pull day session was any indication, Clarida is looking to slay his competition, with the potential to challenge the biggest giant on stage: reigning two-time Olympia champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay.


  1. Kleiber, T., Kunz, L., & Disselhorst-Klug, C. (2015). Muscular coordination of biceps brachii and brachioradialis in elbow flexion with respect to hand position. Frontiers in physiology6, 215. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2015.00215

Featured image: @shaunclarida on Instagram