I get it, buddy. You want to get “swole” in a matter of days. However, unless your name is Steve Rogers aka Captain America, that’s not happening. It takes time, discipline, and well-structured workout routines.
It is not advisable to combine chest and back workouts because each of the muscle groups makes up half of the upper body’s muscle composition. An effective workout of either will result in a compromise in the other’s routines. This is because most chest and back workouts require the same stabilizer muscles, tendons, and core engagement.
Is It Okay to Do A Chest and Back Workout on the Same Day?
While experts, training professionals, and Tom-Dick-and-Harry from up the street may disagree, gym-goers (especially beginners) are advised NOT to combine chest and back exercises directly. The overriding consensus among fitness gurus who think this way is that the two muscle groups have direct clashes that may negatively affect one or both of the areas.
There’s a lot of shared movements, stabilizing muscles, and more, between chest workouts and back workouts. Training chest and shoulders on the same day would diminish those shared resources, and negatively affect the quantity (and quality) of reps for both. Form for pushups may suffer if, let’s say, you are just coming off some intense shoulder press supersets.
An added drawback is that the amount of recovery time needed for all those muscles increases if you do both exercises at once. It is better to alternate days so that you work your chest while your back is, largely, in recovery. And vice versa. Personal trainers also discourage their clients from working out different “big” muscle groups in one session. This is because these major workouts are very strenuous on the nervous system.
With weight and bodyweight training, less is more. You need to work as hard as possible while lifting. You also want to give your body a significant recovery period, so the shredded muscles can grow back and be ready for peak performance when required.
With that in mind, have a look at the big muscle-little muscle gym plan. This is one of the most efficient ways of chipping away at problem areas. Start by combining chest day with bicep workouts. An intense chest workout does not have any significant impact on the biceps’ readiness to be engaged. Vice versa again here, as you can begin with bicep exercises without overly exerting the chest.
The back should then be exercised on a separate day. This time though, instead of biceps, you can also do some work on your triceps. See what we did here? Take care of the front of the upper body on one day, and then address the back on another. The advantage of this approach is that you can work a big muscle group (chest, back, thighs) at full intensity and have enough left in the tank to squeeze in a small muscle (biceps, triceps, abs) workout. A much more efficient strategy for your gains.
I recommended that you work your shoulders on their own day because they already play such a key part in other upper body workouts. Shoulders are heavily involved in chest, back, and arm workouts so there is little need to work them alongside another thing. Besides, the range of shoulder exercises you can do is enough to form a full workout.
For the rest of the week, work on other areas of your body (thighs, legs, abdominals) and allow your upper body to recover fully. For the best results, exercise your muscle groups, including chest and back, once or twice per week at
Best Combo to Do with A Chest Workout
For maximum chest gains, I suggest you combine your chest workout with your bicep workout on the same day.
For beginners, I’d say 3 sets of 8 repetitions at a challenging, yet comfortable weight. After about 2-3 weeks of this, move on to 10 reps, then eventually 12. You don’t want to go past 12 reps per set because your form is important here. It’s much better to increase your sets and make use of the breaks in between.
In combining bicep training with chest workouts, triceps may also be incorporated in some exercises. The EZ curl bar is not a bad starting exercise. The EZ curl bar is a great tool for targeting specific areas of the triceps and biceps. The angular design reduces some of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder strain often associated with a straight bar. Try to do 3-4 sets of 12 to really start feeling the sweet burn.
Follow your EZ curl bar exercises with the Incline Chest Press, for your upper chest region. Same as the dumbbell flat bench fly, 3-4 sets of 12. Beginners start at 8 reps. You can then quickly switch to the decline chest press. I recommend 3 sets of 12 here because your chest will now be approaching the end of its peak performance levels.
Lateral raises also help sharpen your deltoid muscles, and including them in the workout will be of great benefit if you can do 3 sets of 12 reps. Form and control are necessary for all of these exercises.
Cross-Body Dumbbell Hammer Curls are another killer bicep workout. These also target the brachialis as well as the forearm muscles. Great for strengthening your wrists too. The recommendation is 3 sets of 8 for beginners. It is better if you start by perfecting the form for this exercise before maxing out on the reps. Once you have done this, steadily work your way up to 4 sets of 12. The gains will be legendary.
Best Combo to Do with A Back Workout
The back can be worked in combination with either biceps or triceps as well. Parts of the back itself may be engaged in a variety of different ways in other exercises you do, so you might want to pick your back workouts in such a way as not to overwork them.
You can kick off your back session with the Classic Wide-Grip lat pulldown. This exercise works the latissimus dorsi, the largest muscle in the back, hence “classic”. Maintain proper form, posture, and pull the bar down fully towards your chest. Don’t rush either. We want control and maximum muscle engagement throughout. I would recommend 3 sets of 12 on a suitable weight. Add an additional set for reps to failure if you are feeling confident.
The Bent-Over Row is another go-to for back day. This weight training exercise targets many different parts of the back that you can zero in on by employing the relevant form. You can use dumbbells or a barbell for this exercise, and some variations of the exercise may be exclusive to either. Your outer core (transversus abdominis) will also participate in this exercise, as it will have to engage to stabilize your bent back. The Bent-Over Row is a real monster of a back workout and 3 sets of 12 are just about right.
Deadlifts are also an incredible workout for your back. Specifically, your lower back. However, they have the added advantage of being good for your core, your legs, and hips. Over time, deadlifts will also help improve your posture. Don’t overdo it on the weight, and find something you can do across 3 sets of 12 reps.
Once you are done with back workouts, you can try some routines for your triceps. Get warmed up with rope pushdowns and start sculpting your triceps. The cable machines used for this exercise can easily have their weights adjusted, which is great for beginners with no point of reference with regards to their strength level. Like most of the other workouts here, you should try to complete 3 sets of 12 rope pushdowns. Do 4 if you are an advanced trainer.
EZ Bar Skull Crushers are another cool workout for your triceps. In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated and underused exercises in most weight rooms I’ve ever been to. If you do make use of this exercise, however, your triceps will thank you. Again, 3 sets of 12 are the go-to strategy here.
You’re still here bud, so it means you are serious about doing your chest and back workouts. Working out your chest and back muscles is a good way to improve your physique. However, it is not ideal to do them on the same day. If you are a beginner, it might destroy your other workout routines.
It is important for you to have a well-planned workout schedule so that you will be able to achieve your workout goals.
Last update on 2023-11-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API