Best Chest and Bicep Workout Routine for Beginners

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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People usually train their chest with their triceps and their biceps muscles with their back. However, I haven’t seen too many people in my gym train their chest muscles with biceps.

Contrary to popular belief, working these two muscle groups together isn’t counterintuitive.

Based on years of research and observation, I’ve put together some of the best upper body exercises and created four chest and bicep workout routines.

Let’s take a look.

Quick Summary

  • The best chest and bicep routines focus on different aspects of training, like strength-building, calisthenics, hypertrophy, and beginner and elite lifts.
  • While certain compound movements work the entire body, they heavily use the chest and biceps as stabilizer muscles.
  • According to research by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health progressive overload is one of the best ways to enhance muscle growth.
  • In my experience, combining chest and bicep exercises not only diversifies your routine but also leads to more balanced upper body strength.

Best Chest and Bicep Workout Routines

A person doing best chest and bicep workout routines in the gym

Before diving into our list, let’s look at why working chest and biceps together can be beneficial to your weight training routine.

What Is the Benefit of Combining Chest and Bicep Exercises?

The benefit of combining chest and bicep exercises is training each muscle group when neither of them is heavily worked out.

Chest exercises don't engage the biceps, and bicep exercises don't involve the chest. Training them sequentially targets fresh muscles, enabling heavier lifts.

In my experience as a personal trainer, starting with the biceps can fatigue the back before back exercises, similar to how chest exercises can pre-exhaust triceps.

This insight is based on practical application and observation with clients.

“While the biceps are involved in shoulder flexion (and can thus get pretty sore from chest flyes, for example), and can be taxed significantly through close grip pulling during back training, their direct work is based on a large variety of curls of different kinds.”

- Dr. Mike Israetel, Ph.D., Sports Physiologist

Top 5 Chest and Bicep Workout Routines

A person lifting up a barbell in the gym

Based on years of personal experience and client observation and research, here are our top five bicep and chest workouts.

1. Powerlifting Chest and Bicep Workout Routine

The powerlifting chest and biceps workout will use heavier weights and fewer reps than the other routines. The goal of this workout is to build pure strength with little focus on hypertrophy.

This workout is centered around the barbell bench press and deadlifts.

While the deadlift is more hamstring and glute-focused than the upper body, it uses your biceps as an important stabilizer muscle.

Here’s one way you can do this routine:

Chest Workout

Core lift:

  • Bench press (85% of your one-rep max) 5 sets x 5 reps

Assistance lifts:

  • Barbell or dumbbell incline bench press (50% of your one-rep max): 5 sets x 15 reps
  • Chest dips (free or machine-assisted) 5 sets x 12 reps

Bicep Workout

Core lift:

  • Deadlift (85% of your one-rep max) 5 sets x 5 reps

Assistance lifts:

  • Single-arm dumbbell rows (50% of your one-rep max) 5 sets of 15 reps
  • Incline dumbbell curls or chin-ups (free or machine-assisted) 5 sets of 12 reps

This powerlifting routine excels in simultaneously enhancing strength and lean muscle.

For a pure strength focus, up the weight and reduce reps on assistance exercises.

Caution from our training experience: avoid exceeding 50% of your one-rep max on isolation moves like dumbbell curls to prevent straining the targeted muscle, as these exercises don't engage supporting muscle groups.

Related: Best Powerlifting Exercises

2. Calisthenics Chest and Bicep Workout Routine

A person doing calisthenics chest and bicep workouts

This calisthenics routine focuses on bodyweight workouts. All you need is a pull-up bar and dip station, and you’re set.

Chest Workout

  • Push-ups (add weights if needed) 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Parallel bar chest dips (add weights if needed) 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Diamond push-ups 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Horizontal bar chest dips (add weights if needed) 3 sets x 12 reps

Bicep Workout

  • Chin-ups (add weights if needed) 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Underhand Australian pull-ups 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Parallel bar pull-ups 3 sets x 8 reps

3. Hypertrophy Chest and Bicep Workout Routine

The hypertrophy chest and biceps workout routine will focus heavily on muscle growth.

For the exercises in this routine, you will choose weights with which you can do only 8–12 reps. In other words, your last rep in a set should be the last rep you can pull.

Here’s a list of exercises you can include in this routine:

Chest Work

  • Bench press 4 sets x 8–12 reps
  • Incline chest presses 4 sets x 8–12
  • Chest dips 3 sets of 8–10 reps
  • Standing cable chest fly 4 sets of 10–12 reps
  • Push-up AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

Bicep Work

  • Preacher curls 4 sets x 10–12 reps
  • Single-arm dumbbell curls 4 sets x 8–12 reps
  • Hammer curls 4 sets x 10–12 reps
  • Pull-ups AMRAP

Related post: Best Hypertrophy Program

4. Machine-Focused Chest and Bicep Workout Routine

A person doing bench presses in the gym

Machine exercises are ideal for beginners.

They help users get used to the dumbbell and barbell versions of exercises by allowing them to work out at a safe angle and range of motion.

Here’s the routine: 

  • Machine chest flys (3 sets of 12 reps)
  • Smith machine bench press (3 sets of 10 reps)
  • Machine chest press (3 sets of 8 reps)
  • Machine bicep curls (3 sets of 12 reps)
  • Underhand lat pulldowns (3 sets of 10 reps)
  • Machine-assisted chin-ups (3 sets of 8 reps)

Rest for 2 minutes between each set, and finish off with machine-assisted pull-ups or dips for as many reps as possible.

5. Superset Chest and Bicep Workout Routine

A superset combines two exercises performed consecutively with a set number of reps before resting.

This method doubles your workload and targets opposing muscles, enhancing the pump effect.

For instance, alternating tricep and bicep exercises in a superset can significantly boost arm fullness, as I've observed with many clients.

Here’s a sample superset workout routine for your chest and biceps:

  • Bench press for 12 + barbell curls for 10 reps (3 sets)
  • Dumbbell chest flys for 12 reps + chin-ups for 8 reps (3 sets)
  • Decline or incline bench press for 10 reps + hammer curls for 12 reps (3 sets)

Rest for around 2 minutes between each set. Finish off with as many reps of push-ups as possible within one set.

You can mix and match any workout, but be sure to throw in some compound movements for better muscle activation.

Related posts: 

Remember to maintain proper form throughout each exercise to prevent injuries. It's better to use lighter weights with the correct form than to risk injury with heavier weights and poor technique.

Tips for Enhancing Muscle Hypertrophy

A person doing pushups in the gym

Here are some friendly tips to help you make the most out of your bicep and chest training exercises:

  • Use compound movements: Compound movements work more muscle groups per exercise than isolation movements. They help you build muscle faster and burn more calories.
  • Focus on eccentric movements: Research by the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that training the eccentric part of the lift (when the muscles are lengthened and under pressure) builds muscular size and strength more effectively than the concentric part (when muscles are shortened under pressure) [1].
  • Progressive overload: Studies published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health show that progressive overload (gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your lift) is one of the best ways to enhance muscle growth [2].
  • Optimal recovery: Stay well-hydrated throughout the day to ensure that you maximize your muscle recovery, as recommended by the Journal of Human Kinetics Research [3]. Additionally, getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours) ensures that you maintain high testosterone levels, recover quickly, and build muscle faster as shown by studies published in the National Institutes of Health [4].
  • Nutrition and supplementation: For optimal results from these rigorous workouts, a diet high in protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats is essential. Eating a balanced meal within 30 minutes after training greatly aids muscle recovery and growth. Based on my experience with clients, adding a quality whey protein powder can accelerate your gains.

FAQs

How Can I Build My Chest and Biceps Fast?

You can build your chest and biceps fast by increasing your training volume, decreasing rest between set intervals, and focusing on the eccentric phase (the stretched and extended position of the muscles during the lift). Additionally, you also want to eat well, sleep enough, and drink plenty of water to maximize your gains.

Is Chest, Biceps, and Triceps a Good Combination?

Yes, chest, biceps, and triceps are a good combination. Many chest movements include tricep work. Based on our observations, it’s safe and effective to include all three muscle groups in one workout.

Is It Better To Train Biceps With Chest or Back?

It’s better to train the biceps with the back than with the chest. Since both biceps and back require pulling motions, and most back workouts require your biceps, working back and biceps together maximizes your time at the gym.

What Is the Best Muscle Group to Pair With Chest?

The triceps are the best muscle group to pair with the chest. A close second would be shoulders, since many chest movements (like various bench presses) use your shoulder muscles.

Should I Pair Chest With Biceps or Triceps?

You should pair the chest with the triceps. You can also pair them with biceps to tune up your bicep workouts.


References:

  1. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/43/8/556
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8336541/ 
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25959075/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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