Training your chest and triceps together is one of the most common weightlifting training splits. The reason why you train chest and triceps together, is that all chest exercises, isolated or compound lifts, will stimulate your triceps as a secondary or tertiary muscle group. Training them together, is therefore more effective to build more muscle and strength. Training for strength and muscle mass, comes through progressive overload, workout volume, and most importantly, consistency. We’re going to discuss the best chest and triceps exercises, to help you build a solid chest and triceps workout for more muscle and strength.
Before we get into the details of the chest and triceps training workout, we are going to discuss the anatomy of the chest and triceps. Having a basic understanding of these muscles work, will help incorporate a better mind-muscle connection to achieve better results and gains.
The Triceps Brachii is a large thick muscle located on the posterior (back) part of your upper arm between the elbow and shoulder directly below your bicep. Your triceps contain three different heads (short, medial, and long). Your triceps assist in elbow extension (straightening your arm at the elbow) and shoulder extension [R].
The long head originates from the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, while both the lateral head and the medial head both originate from the humerus. The three heads converge into a single tendon, which attaches to the proximal portion of the olecranon process (the bony prominence of the elbow) located on the upper portion of the ulna [R].
Your chest consists of four major muscle groups the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, and subclavius. The pectoral muscles connect the upper extremities to the anterior (front) and lateral (side) walls. These muscles are responsible for a wide range of functions, including flexion, adduction, and internal rotation of the humerus, stabilization of the scapula, as well as elevating and depressing the bones of the thorax [R].
Your chest is the pinnacle of a well-defined physique. Like any other muscle group, there are a ton of different exercises you can utilize on your chest day training split to increase your strength and build more muscle. The question is, which exercises should you choose? Stimulating each section of your chest, will help define and build a well-rounded balanced physique.
Your triceps account for nearly 60% of the muscle mass in your upper arms, which makes it an integral muscle group in your training program. A study published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) identified the best triceps exercises, by investigating which exercises stimulated the most muscle activity through electromyographic EMG electrodes. According to their study, they were able to rank the eight most common triceps exercises, according to muscle activation. While muscle activation matters to stimulate muscle hypertrophy, it’s not the only thing that determines best muscle building exercises. For example, although overhead triceps extensions are the fifth most effective triceps exercise in muscle activation, they can cause more physical stress on your joints.
When you’re lifting it’s best to include different types of weights and movements, such as dumbbells and barbell movements with varied rep volume, intensity, rest intervals, and tempo. By utilizing the same exercises at the same tempo and intensity, overtime your body can become complacent and plateau. If you’re a newbie and you’re just getting started in the gym, utilize the same training split for 6-8 weeks. This will provide a solid foundation to build more strength and get comfortable with the movements.
The number of sets and reps you perform really depends on your goal. Building strength, compared to building a lean physique, is going to be different than bulking or just maintaining good health. With any training program, utilizing a linear progression (increasing weight with each set) and increasing the load overtime as your body adapts will help you progress and continue to build and transcend training thresholds.
Rest intervals, or the time between your sets is another factor to consider, when determining your goals. Cutting body fat and getting lean, will require a higher number of reps, and shorter rest periods between sets, keeping your maximal heart rate in a steady fat burning state. Longer rest intervals, are associated with building more mass and strength, as opposed to shorter rest periods, giving your body more time to rest and recover, producing greater power to lift heavier loads, for a smaller number of reps.
For this specific program, volume is key factor in building more muscle mass. Therefore, you want to aim for 4-5 sets, of 15,12,10,10,8 reps, to build significant strength and mass.
Dumbbells are one of the best training implements in the gym to stack on more gains on your chest day. Dumbbell movements require more core stability, balance, and core activation as opposed to just using a barbell or chest machine. Dumbbell bench press is one of the best compound chest exercises, working multiple muscles groups, and joints all in one fluid motion, for bigger gains and better performance.
If you’re not including the incline dumbbell bench press in your chest day split, then you’re potentially missing out on some huge gains. Dumbbell movements require more core stability, balance, and core activation as opposed to just using a barbell or chest machine. Incline dumbbell bench press is one of the best compound chest exercises, to build more muscle and strength in chest, shoulders, and triceps.
The incline dumbbell chest fly is a variation of the dumbbell chest fly, used to isolate the chest muscles. Isolated movements are typically used by bodybuilders, to build a better, more well-rounded physique, more muscle and increased strength. incline dumbbell chest fly is a great accessory movement, to build more muscle and strength assisting in bigger lifts such as the barbell bench press. The incline dumbbell chest fly also activates secondary muscles groups such as your shoulders and triceps. The incline provides more emphases on the upper chest and provides variety for your chest day split.
Bench press is a compound movement that involves the pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps, and the upper arms. Barbell bench can develop and build more strength and size, and also improve balance in movements amongst athletes. The decline bench press, simply takes the conventional bench press, and angles downward 15 degrees, it to isolate and activate the lower chest.Set the angle on an adjustable bench to 15 degrees, or sit at a decline bench press. With your hands positioned just outside your shoulders on the bar, lie on the bench with your head lower than your hips. Brace your legs to stop yourself sliding off the bench.
Just like the decline barbell bench, the decline dumbbell bench press, is a key functional and compound strength movement, that can greatly increase your chest strength, and build stronger core stability, since the dumbbells are independent of on another, recruiting and activating your core muscles.
Diamond pushups are a more advanced variation of the traditional pushup, which isolates your triceps, by placing your hands together, in the shape of a triangle or diamond. Your base is less stable, when your hands are in a narrow position, which isolates your triceps for more effective activation.
A study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning, compared three different pushup variations using electromyographic EMG to investigate muscle stimulation and activity of the chest and triceps. Of the three variations (wide, shoulder width, and narrow) EMG activity was greater in both muscle groups from the narrow pushup [R].
How To Do Diamond Push-up
Triceps dips are an extremely effective arm exercise, which targets all three heads of the triceps, as well as the lower chest. More advanced than other exercises, triceps dips are performed with bodyweight and can be done without any equipment. All you really need is a sturdy chair, bench, or plyo-box
How To Do a Triceps Dip
Triceps kickbacks were ranked second narrowly beating out triceps dips, amongst a total of eight different variations, with significant activation of all three heads [R].
Triceps kickbacks are best performed with dumbbells. Making sure you have proper form, is paramount to ensure effectiveness, activation, and engagement of the muscles.
How To Do a Triceps Kickback
There’s nothing like a traditional set of ropes or bands to help build the iconic horseshoe on the back of your arms. The triceps rope extension is extremely effective because it activates all three heads of your triceps. Based on the EMG study conducted by ACE, the triceps rope pushdown elicits around 74% activation. While this predominately works the triceps, it also stimulates and recruits the rear deltoids.
How To Do a Triceps Rope/band Extension
If you don’t have access to a gym, or cable machine, you can use resistance bands. Attach it to the top of a doorway and tie a loose knot in the band halfway down.
Like any training day split, getting the nutrients you need to power your performance is crucial to help build the muscle and strength you want. Certain supplements can help biological processes such as muscle protein synthesis, initiating the muscle building process, reducing muscle mass breakdown, inhibiting lactic acid buildup, and improving the recovery process, to get you back in the gym day after day, training at maximum capacity.
The supplements we recommend, for anyone looking to optimize their training performance, are the following
PRE workout – For increases in strength, endurance capacity, and workout volume.
INTRA workout – Better workout hydration and essential amino acids, to help reduce muscle mass breakdown and improve muscle growth.
POST workout – Carbohydrates and protein to help imitate glycogen replenishment, muscle protein synthesis, to build more muscle mass and reduce exercise induced muscle soreness
Kre-Alkalyn – pH corrected creatine, which helps improve power output. endurance, and strength.
Greens+Reds – Key micronutrients and nitrate rich antioxidants, to help improve blood flow, exercise performance, and overall health and wellness.
ZMT – Natural testosterone booster and sleep aid, to improve strength, muscle mass, and initiate quality sleep, improving performance on all levels.
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