The relationship between the chest and triceps is as old as the bench press itself and for good reason.
It makes sense that strengthening your chest and triceps muscles is necessary if you want to have a well-developed upper body. Typically, patients have trouble getting these muscle groups to expand. They aren’t training with enough volume, which is the source of this. Their workouts are not intense enough and they are not performing the proper exercises.
Although the pecs may be the primary movers in the majority of pressing workouts, the triceps are essential synergists or secondary movers. You can only advance on the bench press and develop your pecs to the extent that your triceps will allow. Because of this, you’ll never see a bodybuilder with a huge chest who lacks matching triceps or a powerlifter with a large bench press.
So, if you want a chest and triceps workout that will make your upper body bigger and your pressing strength better, you don’t need to look any further.
Anatomy Of The Chest
The pectoral muscles also called the chest muscles, are two large, fan-shaped muscles that run from the sternum to the arm. They are on either side of the chest. On the left and right sides of the body, each of these muscles has two heads;
- The sternal head: Also called the “lower chest,” is about 3/4 of the pectoral muscle as a whole. It starts at the top of the sternum and goes all the way down to the humerus, where it attaches.
- The Clavicular Head: Also called the “upper chest,” the clavicular head is a small muscle mass that looks more like a triangle and sits on top of the sternal head. It starts at the top of the collarbone and ends where the sternal head does on the humerus.
- The anterior serratus: These stabilizing muscles are right below the pec major. They get their name because, on a lean, well-developed body, they look like the edge of a serrated knife.
As we said, the muscle fibers that make up the pectoral muscles start between the sternum and the clavicle. The muscle fibers then go across the chest and meet at the point where the muscle attaches. It is a convergent muscle because of this.
One of the benefits of a muscle with convergent fibers is that the fibers run in different directions and can pull in different directions. This is what lets you push down, straight ahead, and up.
More importantly, this tells us that we need to hit the upper, lower, inner, and outer parts of the chest from different angles to get the best results.
What’s The Function Of Chest Muscles?
The pectoral muscles are one of the main groups of muscles that help move the arms and do other things in the front of the upper body. The pectoral muscles do three main things.
- Flexion of the humerus
- Adduction of the humerus
- Internal rotation of the humerus
Anatomy Of The Triceps
The triceps are a group of three muscles on the back of the upper arms. They make up about 60% of the arm’s total mass. The three heads all come from different places, but they all meet at the same place across the elbow at the humorous. Even though each of the three heads of the triceps has its own job, as a whole, the triceps is the main muscle that bends the elbow. This is because it crosses the elbow joint
This means that when the triceps contract, they pull on the arm to straighten the elbow joint and lengthen the arm. But the triceps are actually made up of two joints. A muscle that goes through two joints is called a biarticular muscle. In this case, at least one of the heads of the triceps crosses the elbow and the shoulder. Here are what the three heads of the triceps do:
- Medial Head: The medial head is in the middle of the arm, between the lateral head and the long head and under them both. It is the main head used for extension with low force.
- Lateral Head: Unlike the medial head, the lateral head is in charge of making a lot of power. In other words, the lateral head won’t be fully activated until the triceps face a lot of resistance. The lateral head is the largest head and is on the outside of the arm. This is why it is called the “lateral” head.
- Long Head: The long head is named so since it has the longest head. No surprise there, but its length comes from the fact that its endpoint is the same as the medial head and the lateral head, but its beginning point is across the shoulder. The triceps are made up of two joints because of the long head. Because of this, it is the only muscle that can help move the shoulder forward.
What’s The Function Of Triceps Muscles
The triceps have one main job as a whole. That is how the elbow joint moves out, which moves the arm out. Because of this, it is very important to have strong triceps so that you can be strong throughout your whole range of motion. For example, because of the role of the triceps in the lockout, powerlifting and strength athletes often do block presses or floor presses to improve their lockout.
But because the long head crosses the shoulder joint, the triceps is also responsible for extending the shoulder and helping to keep it stable. This includes moves like the freestyle swim stroke, and the long head would help give you more stability when doing push-ups on rings.
The Best Tips To Combine Chest And Triceps Workouts For Size And Strength
Ok, so before we start, here’s some advice: if you’re doing an old-school bodybuilding split full of supersets for these two muscle groups, you’re doing it wrong. You won’t just slow down your progress, but you could also hurt yourself. However, if you do a chest and triceps workout the right way, you can gain a lot of strength and size. Here’s the right way to do it.
First of all, you can’t just randomly couple these two muscle groups together. Lifters in particular need to be cautious when doing supersets, which involve performing two exercises immediately after one another without a break, as doing so too early in the workout will only reduce your pressing strength.
It’s also not a good idea to train your triceps before your chest.
The guiding principle of supersets is that they should enhance both movements rather than work against them. The issue is that many guys superset exercises like the dumbbell bench press and triceps press down, which causes both the pecs and tris to become overworked and prevents either muscle group from receiving the best possible workout. This essentially screws up the form after two in a pairing of five supersets like that. They consequently perform low-quality volume sets that have no discernible training benefit.
In other words, if you’re going to train your chest and triceps together, the key to success is performing both exercises in straight sets. Do all of your chest workouts first, and then your triceps exercises. However, there is a place for advanced lifters to use supersets sparingly, especially later in the workout.
A KPI, or key performance indicator, should serve as the foundation of each exercise. Whether you’re exercising for general fitness or preparing for elite competetions, this is true. The bench press or pushup would be the key performance indicator (KPI) for a chest and triceps workout because they are movements that you truly need to get stronger at over time to see development in. Working your triceps first will simply prevent you from performing those lifts at your highest level of intensity and effort with the most weight. It is important to keep in mind that building muscle is based on progressive loading; you must become stronger over time to promote muscle growth. You could be more concerned with building bigger muscles than with the amount of weight you can lift. Starting the workout with an exercise like hard skull-crushers, for instance, would limit your chest training and would inflame your shoulders and elbows as well.
The triceps can also ease into the workout by warming up as a support muscle throughout your chest exercises before escalating up to a finale when you target the triceps with greater reps and leave the gym with a massive arm pump.
In other words, once you finish pressing, it won’t take much to fully contract your triceps, which is great for your shoulders and elbows.
The Best Chest and Triceps Exercises
Here are our recommendations for the best exercises for each muscle group.
The Best Exercises For Chest
1. Barbell Bench Press
The best chest exercise for maximizing pushing power is the barbell bench press. Maximal loads, which are necessary for more noticeable neuromuscular gains, can be achieved when pressing with a barbell. You should utilize a slightly wider grip than usual when doing the barbell bench press, though. This doesn’t have to be dramatic; maybe just a few finger widths will do.
“The error people make is that they always bench on the same flat bench with the same grip on the same bar. To keep your chest growing and prevent overuse issues, you need some diversity while barbell benching. Simple incline and descent angles are a great way to emphasize stress on the upper and lower pecs.
Alternately adjust your grip. A slightly narrower grip will work fine for most folks. Move each hand’s grip inward by an inch from where it is the firmest. For the majority of guys, this would be done by placing your index fingers at the point where the bar’s knurling, or jagged, crisscross pattern, meets its smooth portion.
Every month, beginners should switch up their benching technique. Advanced lifters can switch things up as frequently as once per week.
2. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
Include an incline bench press to focus on the clavicular head. You’ll utilize dumbbells for a slightly different stimulation at the same time to offer variation.
Ideally, you will have access to a bench that can be adjusted, giving you more options for bench angle. Any angle will be effective because the dumbbell will need more activation for stabilization. To be honest, there are conflicting views regarding whether or not an incline will exert more pressure on the clavicular head. Bring the dumbbells up a little higher on the chest, toward the collarbone, to get the most out of this movement. Additionally, you should push up a little narrower.
The incline press is still beneficial to include in your chest workout regimen, though. Even studies that don’t distinguish between the clavicular or sternal heads, like this one, still demonstrate that the muscles will contract more strongly at different times. Again, diversity is essential for increasing muscle size and strength.
3. Cable Chest Flyes (Multi-Angle)
Chest flies are one of the few single-joint exercises that train the chest, and they’re pretty much the only other single-joint exercise you’ll need, along with dumbbell pull-overs. But because you can train the pecs from practically every angle, we like to use the cable pulley for chest flies.
Basically every direction, including horizontal, a 45-degree fall, and a 60-degree inclination. This is crucial since the structure of the chest muscles is built to pull in any sequence, making it essential to incorporate this variation into your chest workouts.
These are also your best bet to work till failure and beyond because you’re not employing a hefty object or needing to support anything. Your main chest hypertrophy workout should be cable chest flies. Additionally, you can work unilaterally OR simultaneously on both sides. There are numerous variations in this.
The fundamental setup is the same regardless of the angle you use. Choose a height for the cable and adjust it there. The next step is to grab both handles (or just one) and step slightly in front of the machine while holding both handles. This will improve the pulling angle and allow for complete tension across the entire range of motion. The grips you may use are mentioned below
- Neutral grip at mid-level
- Overhand grip for downward pulls
- Underhand grip for upward pulls
Next, you can adopt a neutral or staggered posture; however, a staggered stance typically allows for more stability and heavier weights. Stretch out your front leg till it is about a foot apart from your back leg. Allow your arms to spread out while retaining a slight bend in your elbows.
The last step is to tighten your hands by bringing them together. Where your arms converge will depend on the pulley’s level. When your arms are outstretched, take a minute to look at the line of the pulley to determine where you should pull. Following the cable, you should pull in a straight path.
Every time, adjust the angle. Alternately, you might even switch up your angles every session. You will have some freedom to mix up your sessions as a result.
The Best Exercises For Triceps
1. Triceps Press down with rope
The most well-known and most effective triceps exercise. However, a lot of folks stretch their elbows above the weight and rock into it. This minimizes triceps activation by forcing the grip down and raising the weight with the mass of the upper body. For this reason, we advise performing press down while kneeling. There is no hip engagement and no momentum while dangling this technique. Press down performed while kneeling is considerably better at isolating the triceps.
Another piece of advice is to resist the urge to simply push down. Drive your fists apart to get a slight shoulder extension that targets the triceps’ long head.
2. Triceps DIps
Everyone’s training program should include dips. They are among the best workouts you can perform, period. Forget “best bodyweight exercise,” “best pushing exercise,” or “best tricep exercise.” Dips will help your pushing program build strength and muscle while enhancing your overall athleticism.
Due are fantastic because they let you put your complete body weight on the triceps. The triceps will be highly activated since they must move such a large amount of mass. To get the highest degrees of activation, we must carry them out correctly. As a result, you should do vertical dips since research indicates that this variation will result in the greatest level of activation.
Your body must remain largely vertical during the exercise in order to do these. Just enough forward lean to allow you to descend. Additionally, you should maintain a body-hugging elbow position.
3. Overhead Triceps Extension
The long head of the triceps, which crosses both the shoulder and elbow and serves as a crucial joint stabilizer, receives the greatest stretch during this exercise, whether it is performed from a cable pulley set to head height or with a band attached to a power rack.
The overhead tricep extension is like doing a tricep pulldown with your elbows at your sides.
One recent study compared the two exercises and found that during the lifting and lowering phases, the tricep muscles were used in the same way (the concentric and eccentric motions, respectively)
The overhead tricep extension, on the other hand, works the triceps when they are at their longest.
The tricep muscles attach to the joint above the shoulder and the joint below the elbow. So, when the weight is at its lowest point in the overhead tricep exercise, your triceps are at their longest.
How Many Sets and Reps Should I Do For This Chest And Triceps Workout?
Almost every chest or triceps exercise should be done three to four times (the real work you do, not warmup sets). But rep ranges fluctuate. On heavy presses, you can do as few as 5 reps. For accessory work and isolation exercises, you can do as many as 15–30 reps, and on your last set of the day, you could do as many as 50 reps.
As you get closer to your working sets with heavier weights, we recommend that your ramp-up sets be in the same low-rep range as your work sets. We strongly urge you not to do more just because the weight is light. For example, if you plan to use 90- or 100-pound dumbbells for work sets of 5 reps on the incline dumbbell bench press, you should warm up by doing a set with a pair of 30s for 5, and then a set with 65s for 5. (do two warm-up sets, bare minimum). The goal isn’t to fill the muscle with blood before a heavy lift. Instead, it’s to train the movement pattern and prime your muscle fibers so that you can perform that pattern perfectly when lifting a heavy weight. This is called a “groove” by strength coaches, and you want to find the best one you can. On the other hand, high-rep warmup sets can make you tired and limit how much weight or how many reps you can do on your main set of the day.
Complete Chest And Triceps Workout Program
Now, we’ll put everything we’ve learned so far together. Again, this program has 2 training sessions that happen once a week, with 2-3 days in between.
|Barbell Bench Press||4 sets||4 reps|
|Dumbbell Incline Bench Press||4 sets||RPE 7 for 8+ reps|
|Cable Chest Flies||3 sets||12-15+ reps (use failure, drop sets, forced reps)|
|Rope Press down||4 sets||8-12 reps|
|Triceps Dips||4 sets||12-15+ reps (use failure)|
|Overhead Triceps extension||3 sets||12-15+ reps|
|Push ups||4 sets||12-15+ reps (use failure)|
|Dumbbell Incline Bench Press||4 sets||6 reps (Heavy)|
|Cable Chest Flies||3 sets||12-15+ reps (use failure, drop sets, forced reps)|
|Barbell Bench Press||3 sets||10-12 reps|
|Overhead Triceps extension||4 sets||8-12 reps|
|Rope Press down||4 sets||12-15+ reps (use failure, drop sets, forced reps)|
You just learnt the best chest and triceps exercise you can do in the gym. This is all you need to do to develop incredible pushing power and add significant muscular bulk to your chest and triceps.
In other words, a great workout for developing your triceps and chest’s strength and size.
But until you accomplish one specific thing correctly, you won’t increase in size or strength at all. We are talkin about challenging your muscles increasingly.
The stresses you impose on your muscles during exercise cause them to grow bigger and stronger. They will stop growing once they become accustomed to using a specific weight for a specific amount of reps. Increasing the weight you use in your workouts or performing more repetitions is the secret to gaining strength and muscle quickly and consistently.
Dinky, a graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey, has been working as a writer for more than four years, covering a wide variety of themes including current affairs, politics, fashion, celebrity news, and fitness. Oh, and when Dinky isn’t blogging about her favorite television shows, you can find her marathoning the very same shows on her couch.