Upper Body Chest & Tricep Workout Routine

Upper Body Chest & Tricep Workout Routine

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Make pressing a priority.

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Grouping your chest and triceps muscles into one workout is a common tactic in bodybuilding routines. Your triceps are involved in many chest exercises, which means they're already warmed up and slightly fatigued by the time you come to hit them directly. It isn't simply a case of walking into the gym and picking any random chest and triceps moves though -- exercise selection, the order of your workout and the sets and repetitions all play a critical role.

First Order of Business

The first thing to consider is the order in which you'll perform the exercises. Your biggest mistake is to start with triceps exercises, as doing so means your triceps will give out first when you come to work your chest and you won't fully stimulate your pecs. Instead, training website recommends starting your workout with a general chest move, then an upper-chest move, before returning to a third chest exercise. After this, add in two triceps moves.

A Pressing Matter

Start your workout with two types of chest press -- one general press performed on a flat bench and another for the upper portion performed on an incline bench. Your flat exercise could be a bench press or dumbbell press, while changing your bench angle to between 30 and 60 degrees and performing either of these exercises will turn it into an upper-chest move for your second exercise. If injury or form issues prevent you from pressing, fear not, for pushups are your savior. Trainer Rog Law recommends switching to weight pushups or pushups with a resistance band looped over your back and under your hands instead.

Isolating the Issue

Pressing exercises and pushups hit the whole of your chest, but also involve your shoulders and triceps. To get the best muscle and strength gains in your pecs, you also need isolation moves. Strength coach Nick Tumminello advises performing a flye variation in your routine. These could be flyes on a cable machine, performed standing in front, inline, or behind the cable stacks. Alternatively, dumbbell flyes on a flat, incline or decline bench, along with cable crossovers and pec deck machines all work well.

Trying for Tris

Your triceps are worked as a secondary muscle when you press, but you're selling your tris short if you don't target them specifically too. Add one multi-joint compound move such as close-grip pushups, close-grip bench presses or dips after your three chest exercises. Finally, finish off with an isolation move such as cable pushdowns, dumbbell or barbell overhead extensions, or kickbacks.

The Finishing Touches

With your five exercises now in place, it's time to consider your sets, reps, rest and progression. Keep your pressing exercises in the six to 10 rep range and complete three to five sets. The same goes for your compound triceps move. You'll need two to three minutes rest between sets for these. For your chest and triceps isolations, perform two sets of 12 to 15 reps, with just 60 seconds between sets. On every set aim to hit muscular failure -- the point at which you can't complete another rep with good form -- on your last rep. If you hit a plateau on an exercise and can't improve on the weight or reps from the last workout, switch to another similar move in the next session.