If you want to kill two birds with one stone, or in this case, two muscle groups in one training day, then you definitely can do that. Chest and triceps are two separate muscles that you can work in the same session, without one impeding the development of the other.
So, should you train your chest and triceps together?
Yes, you can train your chest and triceps together. They’re ‘pushing’ movements so it’s ideal to pair them in a workout. Just remember to focus on compound movements that hit both these muscle groups first, like the bench press, before moving onto isolated accessories, like rope tricep pressdowns, to maximize your session.
Let’s dive into further detail around how to train your chest and triceps together on the same training day.
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Why Work Your Chest And Triceps Together
A successful training program is one that involves working complementary muscle groups together so that you can optimize your results.
One such iconic duo is your chest and triceps.
Both these muscles use the ‘push’ movement when engaged which means that they work together to push resistance away from the body. When you do chest exercises, the secondary muscle that you use, after your chest, of course, is your triceps.
It’ll be near impossible to find a chest exercise that doesn’t use the back of your arms as well so it makes sense to do your triceps exercises in the same session as they would have already been warmed up and working.
Working your chest and triceps together will ensure that your pectorals and triceps grow at the same rate. Not to mention, it will make your time in the gym or working out at home, much more time-efficient. You’ll be hitting two groups in one go, without having to do extra warming up for each of them as they’ll already be warmed.
Related Article: Can You Build A Chest Without Bench Press?
How To Work Your Chest And Triceps Together
Now that you know why you should work your chest and triceps together, here’s how to do just that.
WORK ON COMPOUND MOVEMENTS FIRST
Compound exercises means that it uses multiple muscle groups to execute a movement as opposed to isolated ones which only use a singular muscle.
Compound movements should always be your first priority in a training session and then following that, you can focus on isolated exercises to further develop your strength or bodybuilding.
The order in which you perform your exercises definitely makes a difference in the results that you generate.
According to this study, the movements that you perform at the beginning of a workout as opposed to in the middle or at the end, are the ones that’ll give you greater gains.
So, hit your compound movements first and for the muscle group that you want to hone in on, before moving onto your secondary accessories.
Related Article: 11 Compound Exercises For Arms (Plus, Sample Workout)
Chest And Tricep Exercises
Here’s a list of compound movements that use both your chest and triceps. Remember, these are the ones that you want to do at the start of your training session so that you can optimize it and get the best results.
BARBELL BENCH PRESS
The bench press is one of the big three lifts (including squat and deadlift). This is a chest dominant movement that also utilises your triceps, shoulders and core. It is also a flexible exercise in which you can use different types of equipment, depending on what you have on hand. The main one is barbell, however, it also works with dumbbells and even resistance bands.
For the bench press, lay on the bench with your back on a bench with the barbell on a rack above you. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
Unrack the bar and ensure that you are holding the barbell directly above you in an overhand grip. How wide you want your hands to be depends on you. Some people like a shoulder-width grip while others prefer a wider one. Your arms should be extended and straight. If you’re using dumbbells, the same principle applies—hold them directly above you with your arms straight.
Take a breath in, sucking into your belly.
Slowly lower the barbell or dumbbell to your chest.
Once you’ve touched the bar to your chest, then push up back to the starting position. Try to make it as explosive as possible.
INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS
This one is similar to the barbell bench press, except you’re lying at an incline. The purpose of this is to further activate and engage the chest, particularly your upper pectoral muscles.
Lie on a bench that is set at a 45-degree incline. Your upper body should be at a higher level than the lower. Feet are flat on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing up. Hold the dumbbells just over the chest area, with your elbows bent and wrists above them.
Brace and push up until the dumbbells are overhead with your arms straight.
Slowly lower the weights to the starting position.
DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS
This compound exercise works more of your tricep and shoulders than your chest, though you’ll still be activating and engaging your upper pectorals whilst executing the movement.
You can do this exercise standing or sitting, depending on your preference. Whichever way you choose, make sure that you’re upright with a dumbbell in each hand. They should be above your shoulders, on either side of your ears. Your elbows are below your wrists and your feet flat on the ground.
Brace by breathing into your belly. Make sure that your core is engaged as this will prevent your back from overarching. Press the dumbbells up overhead, until your arms are straight and locked.
Slowly, bring them back down to the starting position.
Push ups are a great way to target both your chest and triceps. They can be done with no equipment and can be changed to make it more challenging or easier for you, depending on your level.
Begin in a high plank position. Your arms should be extended, about shoulder-width apart.
Squeeze your core and start to bend at the elbows, bringing your chest towards the floor. Ensure that your body remains in a straight line though. What angle your elbows bend at also makes a difference to whether the push up is more chest dominant or tricep dominant. If it’s at a 45-degree angle, then that’s more pec engagement. If it’s close to your body, then there’s an emphasis on the triceps.
Once you’re close to the floor in a parallel line, push yourself back up to your high plank starting position.
Related Article: Low Pec Workout: 9 Best Exercises & Sample Program
Isolated Chest Exercises
If you want to further develop your chest and isolate this area, here are some movements that you can do on chest and tricep day, after your compound movements.
DUMBBELL CHEST FLYS
The is a great one that uses mostly your pecs to do and minimal equipment. All you need is a flat surface and a pair of dumbbells.
Lie on a flat surface, whether it’s the floor or a bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, above you. Your palms should be facing each other, but the dumbbells shouldn’t be touching. If you’re on the floor, then bend at the knees so that your feet are flat on the floor.
Lower the weight slowly by opening your arms to either side. Go as far as comfortable but don’t worry about going too deep. The magic happens at the top of the exercise, not the bottom.
Then, engage your pecs and bring the weights back the way they came, back to starting position. Really squeezing them is where the chest gains come so make sure you squeeze.
When they reach the top, be careful not to touch the weights together. Stop when there’s about an inch or two still between them. Then, repeat.
This chest exercise requires the cable machine.
Attach stirrup handles to the cable machine. Adjust the pulleys to the highest level of the machine. Grab a handle with one hand each. Your arms should be outstretched with a slight bend in them-they shouldn’t be completely straight. For balance, keep one leg slightly in front of the other.
Brace your core and engage your pecs. Then, start to pull the handles downwards and across your body on both sides simultaneously. Once your hands meet in the middle, they should cross over.
Slowly return to the starting position.
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Isolated Tricep Exercises
Now, it’s time to go over exercises that focus on the triceps and only the triceps. These are great accessories to add in after your compound movements if you’re still looking to hit the back of your arms.
ROPE TRICEP PUSHDOWN
This exercise also uses the cable machine, this time using the rope handles.
Adjust the pulleys so that is on a high level. Grab one rope with one hand in an overhand grip. Your upper arms should be tucked neatly to your sides, elbows bent. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent with your torso slightly leaning forward.
Using only your arms, pull the weight down. Separate the ropes further by bringing your left hand and rope to your left side and your right hand and rope to your right side. Your arms should be straight.
Then, bring the ropes back together to the starting position.
For skullcrushers, you can use a barbell or dumbbells in both hands.
Lie flat on your back, on either a bench or the floor. Hold your barbell or dumbbells up above you with your arms straight.
Without moving your upper arms, start to bend at the elbow, slowly bringing the weight back towards your forehead. Your elbows should be tucked in.
When it’s about an inch from your forehead, pause and bring the weight back to starting position. Your forearms should not move the entire time.
Sample Chest And Tricep Workout
FitBod has great workouts that’ll target your chest and tricep. To help you get started though, here is a sample workout that you can do that trains your chest and triceps.
Bench press (with a barbell or dumbbells): 3 sets of 5-8 reps
Dumbbell shoulder press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Cable crossover: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Rope tricep pushdown: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Training your chest and triceps together is a great idea and a very common training split. If you prioritise compound chest and tricep movements first before moving onto other accessory exercises, then you’ll definitely make the most out of your session. You’ll get great results and save time while doing so. What a win-win!
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.