10 Killer Chest & Triceps Exercises (From a Trainer)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

Looking for some chest gains with triceps to go with them?

As tempting as it is to just run into the gym and get your pump on, not all chest exercises will help you achieve the results you want.

That’s why today, we’re using our excessive expertise to break down everything you need to know about these two muscles and which exercises you should incorporate into your workout program for a killer chest and tricep workout.

Let’s get into it.

Quick Summary

  • To effectively develop chest and triceps muscles, incorporate exercises like dumbbell presses, pushups, barbell bench presses, dips, and muscle-ups into your workout routine.
  • Dumbbell presses allow focused work on each side of the chest, promoting muscle balance and targeted triceps engagement.
  • According to a Sports Medicine journal study, push-ups are effective when an individual can lift at least 63% of their body mass; otherwise, the bench press is recommended for strength building.
  • In my professional experience as a health and performance coach, I've found that combining chest and triceps exercises leads to more balanced muscle growth (especially when supported with protein powder) and efficient workouts.

8 Killer Chest & Triceps Exercises

A chest and triceps workout primarily targets the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, subclavius, and triceps brachii, with secondary involvement of muscles like the biceps, forearms, lats, traps, and abdominals.

After years of coaching, I've found these 10 exercises to be the most effective for chest and tricep development:

1. Dumbbell Press

Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

Using dumbbells is one of the best things you can do if you plan to blast your chest and triceps.

For the dumbbell bench press, simply substitute dumbbells instead of a barbell when performing a bench press.

One advantage of using dumbbells compared to a barbell is that dumbbells allow you to focus on the left and right pecs separately.

This means each dumbbell is supported by its respective pectoral, further advocating muscle balance in the body.

If you want to target the triceps, just use a close grip.

Also Read: Best Dumbell Exercises without a Bench

2. Pushups


To work your chest muscles, you’ll want to incorporate pushing movements.

This means doing exercises like pushups, which also work your arms.

When performing a push-up, focus on keeping your triceps parallel to your body with just a slight angle outward.

However, according to the Sports Medicine journal study, the effectiveness of push-ups does depend on the individual's strength. When the level of strength is not high enough to perform a normal push-up (≤63% of body mass), the bench press could be used to increase strength [1].

3. Barbell Bench Press

Man doing an incline barbell bench press

The barbell bench press is a chest-centered workout that makes use of the core, triceps, and shoulders.

As a result, this one is great for those who want to develop their upper pectorals.

Moreover, it targets the muscles, which are key stabilizers of the shoulder joint, as stated in the Sports Journal study [2].

To hit the chest and triceps altogether, just use a grip that's wider than shoulder-width.

4. Dips


If you’re looking to blast your pecs and triceps, dips are without a doubt one of the best exercises you can do.

Performing a dip relies mainly on lifting your own body weight and requires two horizontal bars parallel to one another.

Start with a shoulder-width grip on the bars, and hoist yourself up so that the bars are at waist level.

From there, push yourself up and return down to starting position to perform a dip.

Similar to a push-up, make sure your triceps are parallel to the body when performing a dip.

If you want to make things more challenging, try strapping a weighted object around your waist to make things heavier.


5. JM Press

jm press

The JM Press is a great chest and barbell triceps workout named after its founder, John Mark Blakley, who happened to be an American powerlifter.

He specializes in the bench press and has been reported to attribute all his chest and triceps agility and strength to the JM Press.

The JM Press is basically a cross between a barbell skull crusher and a close-grip bench press.

The biggest difference is that the JM Press places less tension on the shoulders by not requiring the barbell to go past the head.

Perform a regular skull crusher, except, instead of bringing the weight past your head, lower it down to your forehead. You already know how the rest of it plays out from here!

6. Plate Press/Svend Press

Svend Press

The plate press is a unique type of exercise that looks funny at first but produces impressive results.

To perform a plate press, hold a lightly weighted plate in between your hands.

From there, extend your arms outward to a distance you are comfortable with while pressing against the plate with both hands as hard as you can.

Lastly, retract your arms inward and repeat the movement.

If you want to make the exercise harder, you can use a heavier plate while lying down on a bench.

This allows you to extend the plate further out more without the risk of dropping the plate.

By performing a squeezing movement, the pectorals in the chest become activated with maximum isolation from all the other muscles in the body.

This makes the plate press  one of the best exercises for building strong chest muscles by effectively targeting the inner chest muscles.

7. Chest Press/Shoulder Press Machine

Woman exercising on a seated chest press machine

If you’re uncomfortable with dangling plates in front of your feet, you can utilize a chest press machine to make things simpler.

The shoulder/chest press engages your triceps, shoulders, pecs, wrists, and elbows and serves as a great way to warm up before your workout.

Most chest press machines have everything set up, meaning the only thing you’ll need to do is sit down, grab the handles, and squeeze towards your chest.

One tip we have is to focus on really squeezing those pecs instead of letting your arms or shoulders do the work.

The chest machine is also a great way to correct any muscle imbalances, as your arms and shoulders will be engaged when moving the weight.

This means that if you find your arms getting soreer than usual, it’s a good hint to start building up your arm strength and not just focus on your pecs or tricep.

8. Muscle Ups

muscle ups

Perhaps the most difficult exercise of all is the muscle-up. It's a challenging exercise I often teach and a true test of upper body strength and coordination.

You won’t see many gym-goers performing this type of exercise, mainly because of how many pre-requirements it has.

However, if you are able to execute even just one, it’s a true testament to your fitness level.

To perform a muscle-up, you need well-developed muscle groups in almost every part of your body.

Start by gripping onto a bar as though you are doing pull-ups.

From there, you’ll want to explosively lift your knees up, and as you do so, use that momentum to pull yourself up above the bar so that it’s at waist level.

Getting up is the hard part; from here, all that’s left is to push yourself up using your arms.

Here’s a demonstration of what it looks like:


Why Should You Train Them Together?

man working out at a park

From my experience as a health and performance coach, I've seen firsthand how chest and triceps exercises complement each other.

When training clients, I often emphasize that engaging the chest inevitably activates the triceps, making it challenging to isolate them. This synergy not only promotes balanced muscle growth, preventing any disproportionate development, but also makes workouts more efficient.

Incorporating exercises like dips and narrow-grip bench presses, which I regularly use in my training programs, effectively targets both muscle groups at once.

This approach is particularly beneficial for those focused on functional strength, such as the lifters and crossfitters I coach, who require comprehensive muscle coordination.


How Often Should You Work Your Chest and Triceps?

On average, you should work your chest and triceps two to three times per week to prevent them from being overworked.

This frequency increases or decreases depending on how long you’ve been working out.

Is Heavy or Lightweight Better for Training the Chest and Triceps?

Both types of weight have their own benefits for training the chest and triceps.

A lighter weight is better for maximum muscular hypertrophy, whereas a heavier weight is better for building strength.

According to research published in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism journal, the best method is to alternate between a lighter weight with many reps and a heavier weight with fewer reps [3].

This prevents your muscles from becoming accustomed to a pattern, which can lead to a plateau.

“These findings indicate that heavy load training is superior for maximal strength goals while moderate load training is more suited to hypertrophy-related goals when an equal number of sets are performed between conditions.” - Brad Schoenfeld, PhD

How Long Does It Take to See Chest and Tricep Results?

With dedication and commitment to a workout routine, one can expect to see chest and tricep results between 3 and 6 months of exercising.

Make sure you give your muscles a break between workouts and supplement your diet with protein powder to support muscle growth.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6728153/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8877248/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27218448/
Was this article helpful?

About The Author

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
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
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

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.