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.
What Muscles Are Worked in a Chest & Triceps Workout?
In a chest and triceps workout, five different groups of muscles are worked.
These consist of the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, subclavius, and triceps brachii.
Firstly, the pectoralis major, better known as the pecs, is the main muscle that gets worked in a chest workout.
This muscle rests closest to your skin and is what allows you to do those trademark pec bounces.
The secondary chest muscle known as the pectoralis minor rests under the major and connects your chest to your shoulders.
The third muscle group, called the serratus anterior, rests on top of your upper ribs.
Finally, the subclavius is a tiny muscle in comparison that’s connected to your clavicle.
There’s only one muscle group you need to know for the triceps: the triceps brachii, which makes up the entire under area from your shoulder to your elbow.
Additionally, the body is made up of many different muscle groups, all working to support each other.
Depending on the movement you perform, a chest and triceps workout also involves other muscles, although on a lesser scale.
This includes the biceps, forearm, latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius (traps), and abdominals.
Why Should You Train Them Together?
Despite being distinct muscle groups, the chest and triceps complement each other in many ways.
Firstly, it’s natural for your triceps to be engaged whenever you are performing a chest exercise.
When performing a chest exercise, your triceps are the next-in-line secondary muscles that offer support.
This means that your chest, pecs, and triceps all function together to coordinate a pushing movement.
As a result, it’s near impossible to work your chest without working the triceps!
Secondly, both muscles being worked together means they’ll grow at the same rate.
This creates overall muscle balance and prevents you from looking like a disproportionate blow-up doll.
Lastly, as you may have guessed, working your chest and triceps saves you time! By performing exercises such as dips and narrow-grip bench press, you work multiple muscle groups at once instead of just focusing on one.
This is particularly important for people that prioritize functional strength, such as strong lifters and Crossfitters.
As these people utilize their bodies for everyday scenarios, performing isolation exercises when you’ll almost never use one muscle group at a time is considered a pointless endeavor.
8 Killer Chest & Triceps Exercises
There are a lot of movements to help you build muscle mass. Here are 10 killer exercises you can incorporate into your next workout.
1. Dumbbell 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 using 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
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.
3. 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 that want to develop their upper pectorals.
To hit the chest and triceps altogether, just use a grip that's wider than shoulder-width.
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
The JM Press is a great chest and 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
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
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 sorer 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
Perhaps the most difficult exercise of all is the muscle-up. Here’s a demonstration of what it looks like:
You won’t see many gym-goers performing this type of exercise, mainly because of just 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.
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, the best method is to alternate between lighter weight with many reps and heavier weight with fewer reps .
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.
What Chest & Triceps Exercises Will You Try?
Most fitness enthusiasts and professionals who have developed great chest and triceps didn’t do so overnight.
It took them many years of dedication, consistency, hard work, and of course, performing the right chest and triceps exercises.
If you’re looking for a way to get great results for your chest and triceps, we’ve provided a complete list of the best killer exercises you can incorporate into your routine straight away.
Test them out, and be sure to let us know how effective they've been for you!