Men’s Physique Meets Classic — Terrence Ruffin Trains Back and Biceps With Ismael Martinez

“Ruff Diesel” builds his back and biceps in a workout with Men’s Physique pro Ismael Martinez.

Classic Physique competitor Terrence Ruffin has one of the most aesthetic physiques in the world, which he showcased through his artistic posing to back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Olympia in 2020 and 2021 and his two Arnold Classic victories in 2021 and 2022. Watching Ruffin effortlessly transition from pose to pose is reminiscent of bodybuilding greats Flex Wheeler and Bob Paris.

Ruffin’s on-stage success is largely attributable to how he presents his tight conditioning. In a YouTube video published on Oct. 8, 2022, Ruffin hit a back and biceps workout with Men’s Physique competitor Ismael Martinez to further build the size of his physique. Check it out below:

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Single-Arm Lat Pulldowns

Ruffin started his back workout with single-arm pulldowns. This exercise variation of the lat pulldown is performed with one arm at a time, allowing for a greater range of motion. Ruffin favors this exercise because single-arm variations can effective for growing the lats evenly and without any strength imbalances.

Chest-Supported Rows

For the next exercise, Ruffin and Marinez moved to chest-supported rows. The support of the bench offers more stability, allowing both athletes to potentially load more weight and more acutely target which muscles are performing the work. Isolating specific muscle fibers of the back can be difficult, but better bracing and stability can make it easier.

Superset: Romanian Deadlifts & Hyperextensions 

While practicing the Romanian deadlift (RDL), Ruffin sends the hips back and then drives forward once the hamstrings have reached their fully lengthened position.  The back stays rigid, as flexion in the back would indicate moving past the active range of motion. Slow, controlled eccentrics are essential for gains. RDLs primarily target the hamstrings and utilize the mid and upper backgluteslower backtraps, and forearms

Each athlete finished by supersetting with hyperextensions, utilizing a barbell for resistance. The glutes and hamstrings were active to pull them back to the starting position.


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A post shared by Terrence Ruffin | Online Coach (@ruff_diesel)

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Superset: Seated Reverse Cable Flyes & Concentration Curls

Ruffin moved to a cable station to hit the rear delts and upper back. The reverse cable flye is an isolation movement, so it doesn’t take much weight to get a sufficient load on the rear delt.

I like supersets that work the lengthened and then the shortened range.

The elbows and arms were held at the same angle during the movement. Since the back stabilizes, the cable system allows for optimal control and keeping stimulus on the delt throughout the range of motion. Ruffin utilizes cuffs rather than handles to further emphasize the target muscle. Ruffin superset the flyes with seated single-arm dumbbell concentration curls — great for enhancing the biceps peak.


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A post shared by Terrence Ruffin | Online Coach (@ruff_diesel)

[Related: Derek Lunsford Shares How He Feels Moments Before Stepping Onto the Olympia Stage]

Seated Cable Bicep Curls

Next up for the duo was one of Ruffin’s personal favorites: the seated dual-cable biceps curl. This movement keeps tension on the biceps throughout the entire movement rather than at only the top or only the bottom. If time under tension equals greater muscular development, this is a slam-dunk movement for biceps training.

Below is each movement Ruffin’ & Martinez performed on their back and biceps day:

  • Single-Arm Lat Pulldowns
  • Chest-Supported T-Bar Rows
  • Superset: Romanian Deadlifts & Weighted Hyperextensions
  • Superset: Reverse Cable Flyes & Seated Concentration Curls
  • Seated Cable Curls 

Ruffin led Martinez through some classic bodybuilding posing practice post-workout. When asked about preparation backstage before posing, Ruffin tries to stay as calm as possible by listening to calming music.

Ruffin weighed 196 pounds at the time of the video’s publication. He is pleased with his conditioning as he gets leaner the closer Olympia gets. However, Ruffin doesn’t want to lean out too quickly as he plans to stay at his current weight for a few more weeks. He still wants to put on some size and re-comp a bit before the Olympia, even though his diet is tighter and cheat meals are scarce.

We’ll see how Ruffin’s improved packed lines up against the other top athletes in the Classic Physique division at the 2022 Olympia.

Featured image: @ruff_diesel on Instagram