In recalling a few of the famous (and infamous) duos throughout history, a truism emerges - they are often stronger together than separately. Abbott without Costello? Bert sans Ernie? Cheech minus Chong? Hell, Wile E. Coyote would be nothing more than a demented desert drifter without his raison d'"tre and nemesis the Road Runner. That same pattern holds true in weight training as well. Many bodybuilders smartly pool their biceps and triceps exercises into one workout, and "leg day" generally infers a collection of moves aimed squarely at the quadriceps and hamstrings, which work in concert to flex and extend your legs and the hip and knee joint. Along those same lines, your chest and back also work synergistically - as the muscles of your chest flex, muscles in your back extend, and vice versa. Thus, it makes some sense to take advantage of this link, driving more blood into your torso for a better muscle-inducing pump. The two workouts we provide here are meant to be cycled each time your "chest and back" day comes up in your own training split. (We also provide a sample split you can use.) The first workout is meant to be done heavy, aggressively pyramiding up the weight on the first six exercises to near max levels at the end. The second regimen switches back and forth between chest and back movements, and while you'll still pyramid up the weight, instead of using more explosive reps as in workout one, you'll take each rep through a slow and steady rep cadence - two seconds up, one second pause, three seconds down. The following is a quick walk-through of each training session.
Workout #1: You'll begin on the incline barbell press, starting with a light warm-up set of 15 reps before pushing up the poundage from a 10-rep set to a nine, eight and finally a five repper. From there, you'll follow suit with two more presses, flat and decline, hitting your chest from top to bottom along the way. After that pectoral thrashing, it's time for three back moves following the same rep pattern, attempting to really max out on the last set of each by tackling as much weight as you can handle with good form for five reps. The session winds down with four more moves, alternating between chest and back, finishing with three sets of deadlifts. Often, you'll see deadlifts performed early in a routine, but we use it here as a finisher - the weight you use is not as important as nice, solid reps and perfect form, giving your back one last blast before wrapping up and sitting down to your post-workout meal.
Workout #2: Unlike Workout #1, which focuses on ratcheting up your strength levels, this training session keeps the rep range a bit higher, and focuses more on developing a muscle pump (while still having you move challenging amounts of weight). You start with a bodyweight-only superset that pairs two classic exercises, pull-ups and dips. On the dips, be sure to lean your torso forward instead of remaining upright, which helps focus the attention on your pectorals instead of your triceps taking the full brunt. Next, it's four basic and effective exercises, two back interspersed with two chest moves. Do them all as straight sets (completing all the sets of one exercise before moving onto the next), and performing each rep in the slow 2-1-3-second pattern previously noted in the article. To finish with a flourish, you'll do another superset, this time pairing back extensions with push-ups, both to failure. If your chest or back training hasn't been quite up to par of late, and you haven't built the size you've wanted in those two areas, this training strategy should wake them both out of their doldrums. Leaving no part of either muscle group untapped, you'll find it a challenge at first, but over a few weeks you'll find yourself feeling more powerful and moving more weight than ever before. In no time you'll be thicker and more impressive - front to back.
|Chest||Incline Barbell Press*||5||15, 10, 9, 8, 5|
|Chest||Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press*||4||10, 8, 7, 6, 5|
|Chest||Decline Barbell Press*||4||10, 8, 7, 6, 5|
|Back||T-Bar Row*||5||15, 10, 9, 8, 5|
|Back||Hammer-Strength Machine Row*||4||10, 8, 7, 6, 5|
|Back||One-Arm Dumbbell Row*||4||10, 8, 7, 6, 5|
|Chest||Pec-Deck Flye||3||12, 12, 12|
|Back||Pulldown to Front||3||12, 12, 12|
|Chest||Low-Cable Crossover||3||12, 12, 12|
|Back||Deadlift||3||10, 10, 10|
|Pull-Up superset with||3||10|
|Bent-Over Smith-Machine Row||5||15, 12, 10, 10, 8|
|Smith-Machine Incline Press||5||15, 12, 10, 10, 8|
|Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye||4||15, 12, 12, 10|
|Dumbbell Pullover||4||15, 12, 12, 10|
|Back Extension superset with||3||To failure|
|DAY||BODY PART(S) TRAINED|
|1||Chest and Back #1|
|2||Shoulders and Abs|
|7||Chest and Back #2|
|8||Shoulders and Abs (continue pattern)|