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Build Muscle with this Chest & Back Workout

Build Muscle with this Chest & Back Workout

Many men (and an increasing number of women) are following bodybuilder-style split programs. Where you combine two or muscle groups that compliment each other into one session. Quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Shoulders, arms, and abs. Chest and back. There are many advantages to doing so.

Training complimentary muscle groups means that with a little planning you can hit each muscle more regularly than you would following a single-muscle split (i.e. chest day, back day, arm day). They also allow you to train each muscle more thoroughly than you would following a full-body workout. This type of training mainly benefits bodybuilding programs, while other splits (push/pull or upper/lower) benefit strength programs.

In this article we will look to create the ideal chest and back workout. This is intended to be used as part of a larger muscle split program. So, you would train chest and back (this workout) on Mondays, legs on Wednesday, arms and shoulders on Friday. Or however your program is set up.

In other words, don’t just repeat this session over and over while neglecting your legs, shoulders, and arms!

Chest & Back Workout

We’re going to give you two different chest and back sessions (our generosity knows no bounds). If you are following a five or six day per week training session, you’ll probably hit this twice. If you are only training three or four times per week, then you can just alternate between each session. They are designed to complement each other.

This program is based around building size (hypertrophy) so we are using a mix of high and medium rep ranges. A strength-based program would look quite different and would focus more on low rep sets with heavier weights.

If you are a beginner, you should see both strength and size gains from this program. The best of both worlds! Because we are training primarily for size, you’ll want to keep your rest between sets down to around 60-90 seconds. But you can go as high as 3 minutes for some of the tougher exercises!

Because this program can be used by both new lifters and experienced lifters, we’re going to have to include exercises that may not suit everyone. For example, if we right pull ups then new lifters won’t be able to follow it. But if we wrote “assisted pull up machine” more experienced lifters would find it too easy. So, you’re going to have to be a bit creative. We’ll write the easier version (in this case “assisted pull ups”) but if you can do proper pull ups then do that. Same thing goes with assisted dips, vs bodyweight dips, vs weighted dips. Pick the exercise that suits your capabilities.

Right! Let’s get started.

Session One

  • Cable Face Pulls 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Assisted Pull Ups 3 x 10 reps
  • Low Row Machine 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Row 3 x 8 reps (each arm)
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 6-8 reps
  • Assisted Dips 3 x 10 reps
  • Cable Chest Flyes 3 x 12-15 reps

Session Two

  • Cable Face Pulls 3 x 8-10 reps
  • Lat Pulldown 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Barbell Bent Over Row 3 x 6-8 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Flat Dumbbell Chest Flyes 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Shrugs 3 x 20 reps


Rookies vs Experienced Lifters

If you are struggling to perform certain exercises, then here are a few alternatives:

  • Barbell Bent Over Row – This can be a difficult exercise for beginners, as it requires you to maintain a nice straight back while you row. To do this you need flexible hamstrings, and you need to know how to perform a hip hinge. If you’re not quite there yet, then a low-row machine is a good option. Or if your gym has a seated cable row machine that’s even better as it can help you learn about maintaining a flat back while recreating the movement well.
  • Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press – If you’re not quite strong enough to perform a close-grip barbell bench press (remember, the bar itself weighs 20kg) then you might want to consider building your triceps using exercises such as the cable tricep pushdown. Combine this with regular dumbbell flat bench press, and you’ll soon have the strength for close-grip.
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press – You can build your strength using the chest press machine, or through the use of beginner’s push ups (weight on your knees). Even wall push ups are a great way to start.

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