The gyms will be open soon, and you better believe that first day is going to be national chest day. But that’s okay. You’ll be prepared. This chest and arm workout will mark your glorious return to the gym, and you’ll walk out with a massive pump. Let the hypertrophy begin.
Chest and Arms Go Together Like…
Peas and carrots, coffee and cream, alcohol and bad decisions.. You get the idea.
Chest and arms are a natural combination. All pressing movements, like the bench press, dumbell bench press and push ups already work the triceps pretty hard. So, it’s both efficient and productive to work the triceps alongside your chest exercises.
We’re going to work the biceps as well for this workout. And no, it won’t screw up tomorrow’s back day. I’ll show you how, just stay with me.
Chest and Tricep Anatomy
A little anatomy never hurt anyone. If your goal is to build muscle, then your chest and arm workout (and all your workouts) would benefit from having a deeper understanding of how to target specific muscles to get the most out of your training.
The Chest is actually made up of 4 separate muscles. The Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor make up the vast majority of your chest muscle.
To work the Pectoralis minor, we can use dips and decline presses. Any movement where the body is leaning forward with the arms pressing at a downward angle.
Incline bench presses work the Pectoralis major, focusing on the Clavicular head of the muscle (the upper chest).
The pectoralis major is by far the largest and most dominant muscle in the chest. It spans across your chest from your shoulder to your sternum. It is responsible for moving the humerus (arm), and is worked during just about every chest exercise you’ll do.
With just a little variety we can easily hit all the muscles of the chest.
The triceps muscle is a little more interesting. It’s made up of 3 separate muscles. The lateral head, medial head and the long head.
To get the “horseshoe,” we need to specifically focus on the long head of the triceps. The long head can be isolated using movements like skull crushers, lying dumbell extensions, overhead triceps extensions and my favorite.. dips.
Well hit them all in our chest and arm workout, so don’t worry.
BFR Bands and Resistance Bands for Explosive Hypertrophy
For this workout, we’re going to use Blood Flow Restriction Bands (BFR) and Resistance Bands. These tools can take your workouts to the next level. You can take it from me, or read the research for yourself.
Occlusion Training with BFR Bands
Blood flow restriction training, also known as “occlusion training” has been around for a long time. Bodybuilders have used it for years.
BFR bands are kind of like a tourniquet placed on your arms. Blood flow is restricted, limiting oxygen and blood to the working muscle.
They are meant to be used for high reps (15-30) with lighter loads (50% of your max or less). Normally, the slow twitch muscle fibers would be handling that type of work.
However, with restricted blood and oxygen, the slow twitch fibers cannot keep up. As a result, the fast twitch muscle fibers have to take over.
Finishing your workout with 10 minutes of fast paced BFR lifting will give you the biggest pump you’ve ever had in your arms. That pump is caused by cellular swelling, and is a precursor to increased testosterone and growth hormone release, and increased hypertrophy.
You can get a set of BFR Bands for around $30 on Amazon. I use these, and they’ve lasted me almost two years already. You’ll thank me later.
Resistance bands are a great tool to compliment your lifting.
I like to use them primarily because I can get a ton of volume in with them without the joint stress I’d get from using dumbells, barbells or cables.
Resistance bands offer ascending resistance, meaning the resistance increases as the band stretches, towards the end of the movement.
Since people tend to be weak at the end range of motion, this can be very beneficial. (Think about that last few inches of the bench press when you can’t lock out your arms.)
With bands, we can safely throw in a ton of volume for arm training that we otherwise probably wouldn’t have been able to get in.
Chest and Arm Workout for Hypertrophy
School’s over, and it’s time to get down to business. This chest and arm workout is probably different from what you’ve done before.
I don’t like copy and paste workouts or workout programs. There have been a lot of advancements in our understanding of how to build muscle and get stronger. This workout uses concepts that might be new to you, but if you want to grow, you’ve got to…. grow!
Here’s the workout. Scroll down for videos and explanations for each exercise and for specifics.
|A1 – Floor Flyes||3||10-12|
|A2 – Single Arm Bench Press||3||10||90 sec|
|B1 – Depth Push ups||4-5||3|
|B2 – Close Grip Bench Press||4-5||5||2 mins|
|C – Dips||4||10-12||90 sec|
|D – Incline Dmbl Bench Press||3||8-10||90 sec|
|E – BFR CIRCUIT||10 mins||15-30||minimal|
|E1 – Dmbl Hex Press||/||/||/|
|E2 – Plate Curls||/||/||/|
|E3 – Banded Triceps Ext||/||/||/|
|E4 – Reverse Curls||/||/||/|
1. Warm Up: Floor Flyes/Single Arm Press
Get a good warm up in by doing 3 sets of 10 reps for each. Perform these as a superset, resting 90 seconds between sets. Go light, it’s a warm up.
2. Depth Push ups to Close Grip Bench Press
Research shows that barbell work hits the triceps much harder than dumbells or cables. So I want to make the most of that.
Studies also show that performing explosive push-ups before a heavy bench press can improve your performance. I want to fully activate and stimulate the explosive fast twitch muscle fibers.
Perform 3 explosive depth push ups, then go immediately to the bench and hit 5 reps of close grip bench presses. Work up to the heaviest set of 5 you can get. Try to get there within 5 sets.
Dips are one of my favorite upper body exercises. I’d argue you can build more muscle with dips than with the bench press.
You’re looking for 10-12 reps. If you can get more than that, add weight with a Dip Belt or a dumbell between your legs. . Hit 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
To protect your shoulders, you can come down until your arms form a 90 degree angle, then push back up.
4. Incline Dumbell Bench Press
Nothing fancy here. We want to hit the upper portion of the chest. 3-4 sets of 8 reps. Be explosive when you press the weight up.
5. BFR Chest and Arms Circuit.
Strap your BFR Bands on and get your mind right.
Peform the circuit for 10 minutes. Rest as little as possible. Get in as many reps as you can. Go from one exercise to the next.
On the first set, aim for 20-30 reps. Each set after that, your goal is 15 reps. Remember, with BFR Bands, you want to use lighter weight and get in a ton of reps.
All that volume will lead to big gains, and a massive pump. Crush it.
1. Hex Press:
Squeeze the dumbells together the whole set.
2. Plate Curls:
Grab a plate and curl it until your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. Get a good squeeze at the top.
3. Banded Triceps Extensions:
Keep tension on the triceps by trying not to pause or allow the band to come up too high. Constant movement. If you don’t have them, Invest in some Strength bands!
4. Reverse Curls
Grab an empty barbell, palms facing down and bang out some reverse curls. These really make for an insane forearm pump.
Remove the BFR Bands and marvel at the pump.
Maximize Your Gains
If you’re going to be putting in this kind of work, you might as well reap as much benefit from it as possible. Here’s a few things you should definitely be doing to make sure you maximize hypertrophy and recovery.
1. Use the Right Supplements
You don’t need to go crazy on the supplements. There are a few that can give you an edge that I’d recommend.
- Creatine – increased power output, strength, recovery
- L-Citrulline – Found in many pre-workouts, it is converted to nitric oxide in the body and improves blood flow. i.e, gives you a massive pump. Which of course, leads to more hypertrophy
- Protein – If you aren’t getting at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight from food, then use a supplement.
- L-Carnitine – Improved fat burning and increased androgen receptors (better use of testosterone = more muscle).
I recommend getting supplements from Bulk Supplements. It’s cheaper, you get way more, and it’s high quality, pure ingredients vs. the mixtures you get in pre-made supplement formulas. Your results will be better when you know exactly what you’re taking and how much.
2. Eat Before Your Workout
Eating before your workout has been shown by research to have just as much impact on muscle building and protein synthesis as eating after.
During a workout like this chest and arm workout, you want to make sure you’ve got plenty of amino acids and carbohydrate in your body. This tells your body not to burn up muscle, and sends a stronger signal for muscle growth.
It also leads to better recovery after your workout. So, try to get in 20-30 grams of protein and some complex carbs 1-2 hours before your workout.
3. Take Rest Days Seriously
More is not always better. 4-5 workouts a week like this chest and arm workout is more than enough to stimulate massive hypertrophy. If you’re new to working out, 3 days might even be enough.
Prioritize rest and recovery. That’s when you actually build muscle, when you’re resting. Watch a movie, take a nap. Relax. You’ll come back feeling stronger and will build muscle faster.
4. Eat Enough to Build Muscle
You have to eat a surplus of calories to build muscle. There’s no way around it, unless you’re pumping yourself full of anabolic steroids.
Eat more. Get enough protein. Studies show 0.7 grams per pound of body weight of protein is adequate for most people.
Don’t lift like a beast then eat like a squirrel. Your body won’t build muscle that way, and you’ll be wasting a lot of effort.
I hope you actually put this workout to the test. I’d be excited to hear how it went. Let me know in the comments, or by email at Contact@supastrong.net
Here are a couple other articles you might find helpful:
- 4 New Exercises for a Big, Strong Back Plus Full Back Day Workout
- How to Build Muscle from Home – 5 Methods that Work
As always, I hope this article helped you get a little closer to that best version of YOU!