Ahh, chest and triceps. It’s a classic workout, one done by bodybuilders and the “functional” fitness crowd alike.
And there’s a simple reason for that. Whenever you set up under the bench press (or heck, whenever you do a pushup), you’re working your chest. You know that. Especially when it comes to the bench press, you’re doing the movement in an effort to build more chest size, muscle, and strength.
But your chest doesn’t work in isolation. Anytime you push anything, you’re utilizing your chest in conjunction with your shoulders and (yep) your triceps. Your tris, the thick muscles on the backs of your arms, are key pushing muscles, straightening your arms and driving your hands farther away from your body.
Your chest and tris work together so often that it makes sense to build them into the same workout. And that’s what you’re going to do in this session.
Chest-and-Triceps Workouts Fit With Pull-Push-Legs
The great thing about a chest-and-triceps workout is it works despite your training style. It’s especially valuable, too, if you train with the pull-push-legs split. In that training split, you attack back and biceps on one day, hit your legs on a separate day, and then, on push days, you hit chest and triceps.
The muscles complement each other so it makes sense. You’re activating your tris on that bench press and, if you push your body hard enough, you’re overloading your triceps with a stimulus that can spark growth. Why not finish them off with a little triceps isolation at the end of your chest session?
It’s an effective use of gym time that can get you to many of the goals you have, especially if they regard a chiseled chest and powerful arms.
Arranging a Chest-and-Tris Workout
The key to the workout is the setup. Your chest is the more dominant, powerful muscle group, so you want to attack it first, ensuring that you’re moving your heaviest weights. This also creates greater calorie-burning stimulus: You’re firing up your metabolism when you move those heavy weights in multijoint motions like the bench press and incline press.
You’re also warming up your triceps on all those bench press and pushup moves, because, again your triceps can’t help but be part of the equation. One of your triceps’ main jobs is extending your arm at the elbow, driving your arm straight. Every time you lock out at the elbow? Yup, it’s your tris that get you there.
So they’re getting a little work on every rep you do for chest. Then, when they’re fatigued, you’re smoking them a bit more with lighter-weight isolation ideas to spur arm growth.
Do this workout twice a week. Ideally, you’ll also train your back twice a week (try this workout) then do a separate legs workout, like this one.
Warm up for this workout by doing a quick circuit: Do 20 jumping jacks, 10 Superman holds, a 30-second plank, and this warmup. Then do each move in order. Complete all reps and all sets before heading to the next exercise.
Dumbbell Bench Press
Start with the most fundamental mass-builder for your chest. Do 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds between each set.
Mixed-Style Incline Press
Now pummel your upper chest (and challenge your shoulders and tris more than you think while you’re holding that straight-arm position). Do 3 sets. Do 3 to 4 clusters of reps in each set. Rest 90 seconds between sets.
Resistance Band Chest Fly Finisher
Finish by attacking this resistance band chest fly finisher. Do 3 sets. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
Double-Skullcrusher to Double-JM Press
Now isolate your triceps with this grueling dumbbell move. Do 3 to 4 pairs of reps per set; do 3 sets. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
Half-Iso Alternating Pressdown
Finish with this resistance band pressdown that’s all about time under tension. Do 2 sets.