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Killer Chest and Tricep Workout to Obtain Large Sculpted Muscles

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Why Workout the Chest and Triceps Together? 

The chest – also known as pectorals or simply pecs – and tricep muscles are two unique groups in the upper body. The pectorals are large muscles originating from the sternum (sternal head) and clavicle (clavicular head). Both heads insert into the humerus and produce shoulder and arm motions (1). Specifically, your chest muscles are responsible for activities like horizontal adduction (such as bringing your arms in from the sides) and shoulder flexion (raising your arm forward and up).

In contrast, the tricep is a minor muscle that consists of three heads and produces elbow extension (2). Two of its three heads originate from the top of the humerus and insert into the elbow. The third (long) head originates from the scapula and inserts into the elbow. Thus, it crosses the shoulder, as well as the elbow.

Though unique in their functions, both muscle groups work together on all pressing exercises, which is why training them together is so beneficial (3). In other words, you can train the two muscle groups in the same workout without one impeding the growth of the other. Plus, given their synergistic functions, teaching the two muscle groups to work together has real-life benefits. For instance, you develop superior pressing strength, benefiting from some everyday activities and improving your sports performance.

Try Hevy to create your own chest and tricep workout.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own chest and tricep workout with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

Chest and Tricep Workout Routines 

Routine 1

The goal is to begin with a heavy compound exercise, which allows you to overload your muscles and cause significant mechanical tension (4). We then use an assistance exercise to build up extra training volume and train our muscles slightly differently (5). We finally move on to a tricep isolation movement that keeps the chest out and focuses entirely on the smaller muscle group.

  • Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press – 3-4 sets of 6 to 10 reps 
  • Diamond Push-Ups – 3 sets of 6 to 20 reps
  • Rope Cable Tricep Extension – 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps

Routine 2 

Similar to routine one, this one follows a similar structure. Here, we begin with a compound exercise that causes significant mechanical tension. We then move to an assistance exercise for extra training volume. Finally, we finish it off with an isolation movement. This time we focus on isolating the chest – specifically, the middle and lower portion.

  • Dips – 3-4 sets of 6 to 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Crush press – 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps  f
  • High Cable Chest Fly – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps 

8 Compound Chest and Tricep Exercises 

Exercise 1: Close-Grip Bench Press

The close-grip bench press is a fantastic compound lift that lets us cause significant mechanical stress and strengthen our chest and triceps.

Muscle groups: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Abs, and Serratus Anterior
Equipment: Flat Bench, Barbell, and Weight Plates

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Lie on the bench and grab the barbell with an even overhand grip. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.
  • Unrack the bar and bring it over your chest.
  • Plant your feet into the floor, bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and take a breath.
  • Lower the barbell to your
  • , tap it lightly, and press back up, extending your elbows fully. Exhale near the top.

Exercise 2: Dips

Dips are a fun and effective exercise you can do to train your chest and triceps. Plus, by tilting your torso forward or keeping it more upright, you can emphasize your chest or triceps, respectively.

man dip

Muscle groups: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Abs, Serratus Anterior, Back, and Glutes
Equipment: Dip Bar

Step by Step Instructions (chest emphasis): 

  • Step on the foot platforms on both sides and grab the dip bar. Your arms should be close to your sides.
  • Extend your arms, bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and step off the platform.
  • Tilt your body forward to some degree and take a breath.
  • Lower your body by bending your elbows while keeping your shoulders back.
  • Go down until your feel a stretch in your chest and your upper arms are nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Press up to the starting position exhaling near the top.

Exercise 3: Diamond Push-Up

Diamond push-ups are a valuable and straightforward exercise you can use to train your chest and triceps, even if you have no equipment available.

man diamond push up

Muscle groups: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Serratus Anterior, and Abs
Equipment: none

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Get down and place your hands flat on the floor a couple of inches apart.
  • Extend your body into a push-up position. Your shoulders, hips, and knees should be in a straight line, and your wrists should be beneath your shoulders.
  • Contract your abs, take a breath, and lower yourself as much as you can.
  • Push yourself back to the top position, exhaling near the top.

Exercise 4: Barbell Bench Press

The bench press needs no introduction. It’s one of the best and most widely-used exercises for chest, shoulder, and tricep growth.

man bench press barbell

Muscle groups: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Serratus Anterior, and Abs
Equipment: Flat Bench, Barbell, and Weight Plates

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Lie on the bench and grab the bar with an even, overhand grip. Your grip should be slightly wider than your shoulders.
  • Unrack the barbell and bring it over your chest.
  • Bring your shoulders back, press your feet into the floor, engage your abs, and take a breath.
  • Lower the barbell to your lower chest, tap it lightly, and press it back to the starting position.
  • Exhale near the top.

Exercise 5: Dumbbell Crush Press

As a slightly less common exercise, the dumbbell crush press is fantastic because it emphasizes your triceps, trains your chest, and allows you to work both sides of your body independently.

Muscle groups: Triceps, Chest, Shoulders, and Serratus Anterior
Equipment: Flat Bench and Pair of Dumbbells

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells, sit on a bench, and rest the weights on top of your thighs.
  • In one motion, lie back on the bench as you raise both dumbbells over your torso and extend your arms.
  • Bring your shoulders back, dig your feet into the floor, engage your abs, and bring the dumbbells together. Your palms should face one another.
  • Take a breath and lower both dumbbells without breaking them apart.
  • Go down as comfortably as your wrists allow and press up to the starting position, exhaling near the top.

Exercise 6: Incline Close-Grip Bench Press

The incline close-grip bench press is excellent for training the upper chest alongside your triceps.

Muscle groups: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, and Serratus Anterior
Equipment: An Incline Bench, Barbell, and Weight Plates

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Sit down on the incline bench and lie back, careful not to bump your head on the barbell.
  • Grab the bar with an even, overhand grip. Your grip should roughly be the width of your shoulders.
  • Unrack the barbell and carefully bring it over your chest.
  • Dig your feet into the floor, bring your shoulders back, and engage your abs.
  • Take a breath and lower the barbell to mid-chest level.
  • Tap your chest lightly and press the barbell back up, exhaling near the top.

Exercise 7: Decline Bench Press

Thanks to your body’s position on the decline press, you get to emphasize the lower portion of your chest. The great news is, this movement also works your triceps.

Muscle groups: Shoulders, Triceps, Chest, and Serratus Anterior
Equipment: Decline Bench, Barbell, and Weight Plates

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Set the decline at roughly 30 degrees and lie on it. The barbell should be directly over your forehead.
  • Grab the bar with an even, overhand grip at roughly the width of your shoulders.
  • Unrack the bar and bring it over your lower chest
  • Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and take a breath.
  • Lower the barbell straight down, touching your lower chest lightly.
  • Press the barbell up, extending your elbows fully, and breathing out near the top.

Exercise 8: Plyometric Push-Ups

Plyometric push-ups are a challenging exercise that forces you to produce as much force as possible, which builds great strength and power.

Muscle groups: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Serratus Anterior, Abs, and Back
Equipment: none

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Get down on the floor and assume a standard push-up position. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders should be in a straight line, and your body should be straight as an arrow.
  • Keep your feet a few inches apart and position your hands as wide or narrow as you see fit. You could have your hands at shoulder-width level or wider apart.
  • Squeeze your glutes, engage your abs, take a breath, and lower yourself to the floor.
  • Once at the bottom, press as forcefully as you can, thrusting your upper body in the air. Exhale near the top as your hands lose contact with the floor.
  • Land on your hands while keeping your body straight and descend into the next push-up repetition.

3 Isolation Chest Exercises 

Exercise 1: Low Cable Chest Fly

The low cable chest fly is an isolation movement that trains the chest and emphasizes the upper (clavicular) portion.

Muscle groups: Chest, Biceps, Shoulders, and Serratus Anterior
Equipment: Cable Pulley and Handle Attachment

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Set the pulleys on a low position and pin the same amount of weight on both stacks.
  • Grab one handle attachment, then walk over and grab the other one.
  • Center yourself between the two stacks with your arms to your sides and take a couple of steps forward.
  • Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and bring one foot forward for balance.
  • With your elbows bent slightly, raise both arms up and forward, squeezing your chest at the top as your hands come together.
  • Release your arms slowly, exhaling on the way down.

Exercise 2: High Cable Chest Fly

The high cable fly is yet another isolation movement. But, unlike the low cable fly, having the pulleys in an elevated position allows you to target your lower chest.

Muscle groups: Chest, Biceps, Shoulders, and Serratus Anterior
Equipment: Cable Pulley and Handle Attachment

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Set the pulleys on the highest position and pin equal amounts of weight on both stacks.
  • Grab one handle attachment, then walk over and grab the other one.
  • Stand in the middle between the two stacks with your arms to your sides and up. Take a couple of steps forward to lift the weights from their stacks.
  • Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and take one foot forward for balance. Bend your elbows slightly.
  • Bring your arms in and down, squeezing your chest as your hands come together.
  • Gradually release your arms back to the sides, as you exhale.

Exercise 3: Flat Dumbbell Chest Fly

The dumbbell fly is a simple, classic exercise you can do to train the entire chest muscle.

Muscle groups: Chest, Biceps, Shoulders, and Serratus Anterior
Equipment: Gym Bench and Pair of Dumbbells

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie flat on a gym bench.
  • Extend your arms toward the ceiling and have the dumbbells hover over your chest.
  • Bend your elbows slightly, bring your shoulders back, put your feet flat on the floor, and take a breath.
  • In one motion, lower both dumbbells down and to your sides, as you keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Go down until you feel a nice stretch in your chest and bring them back to the top, tapping them lightly as you exhale.

3 Isolation Tricep Exercises 

Exercise 1: Rope Cable Tricep Extensions

The rope cable extension is a fantastic movement that forces you to maintain proper technique and isolate your triceps well.

Muscle groups: Triceps and Abs
Equipment: Cable Pulley and Rope Attachment

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Set the cable pulley in the highest position, attach a rope, and select your weight.
  • Grab the rope evenly near its ends.
  • With your hands in front of your chest, take a couple of steps back to lift the weight off its stack.
  • Bring your elbows to your sides and shoulders back.
  • Take a breath and extend your elbows against the resistance, straightening them fully. You can also split the rope by extending your arms to your sides for greater tricep activation.
  • Release the weight slowly as you bend your elbows without moving them back or forward. Exhale.

Exercise 2: Dumbbell Tricep Kickback

The kickback is excellent because you can isolate your triceps well, even if you have nothing more than a dumbbell available.

man triceps kickback dumbbell

Muscle groups: Triceps
Equipment: Dumbbell

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Grab a dumbbell in one hand and bend forward.
  • Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and lift your elbow to torso level.
  • Take a breath and extend your elbow. As you straighten your arm, extend it back a bit – this will help you better contract your tricep.
  • Bend your elbow slowly as you exhale.
  • Once finished, grab the dumbbell with your other hand and repeat for the same number of repetitions.

Exercise 3: Seated Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension

The overhead tricep extension is yet another excellent isolation movement. Thanks to your shoulder’s position, you get to stretch your tricep more and hopefully trigger superior growth.

man overhead triceps extension dumbbell

Muscle groups: Triceps, Shoulders, and Abs

Equipment: Dumbbell and something to sit on

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Grab a light dumbbell and sit on a gym bench or chair.
  • Lift the dumbbell over your head with one arm and straighten it at the elbow.
  • Engage your abs, and bring your shoulders back – this will allow the dumbbell to travel down and behind your head.
  • Take a breath and slowly lower the weight behind your head, be careful not to bump it.
  • Lower it until you feel a nice stretch in the tricep and bring it back up, straightening your elbow as you exhale.

Conclusion of Chest and Tricep Exercises

Though different in many ways, our chest and triceps are synergistic muscle groups, made to work together. Besides training multiple muscles together, compound exercises induce more significant overload, build strength, and aid muscle growth (4). The moments where you simply want to train one muscle group and give the other a break, isolation exercises come in to save the day. Movements like tricep kickbacks and chest flyes allow us to emphasize one muscle group, accumulate training volume, and build more muscle mass in the long run.

The best part is, training our chest and triceps together doesn’t impede the development of either of the two muscle groups. Training them together complements their development and allows us to get the most out of our training. A direct benefit of doing chest and tricep exercises is that we teach them how to work together and build superior upper body strength, which can benefit our daily lives and sports performance.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the difference between an isolation and compound exercise? 

An isolation exercise focuses on a single muscle group and involves one joint – for example, a tricep kickback, which trains the tricep and involves the elbow. A compound exercise focuses on more than one muscle group and affects two or more joints – for example, the bench press.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own chest and tricep workout with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

Can you work out your chest and triceps at home? 

Absolutely. There are plenty of fantastic movements you can do to train both muscle groups together. The push-up and its many variations are prominent examples of great chest and tricep movements you can do anywhere (6).

The Best bodyweight exercise for chest and triceps? 

There isn’t a single best exercise, but push-ups and dips come close. A great movement allows you to train the correct muscles safely and pain-free.

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