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Unique Combinations of Moves to Grow
Your Showcase Torso Muscle Groups

Because chest and back are such high-profile muscle groups, most guys prefer to train them alone. And that approach makes total sense since doing so allows you to train each group with maximum intensity. But there’s something to be said for the utility of supersets, particularly when you train opposing muscle groups (i.e. quads/hamstrings, biceps/triceps). But the real success lies in the pairing – the exercises that you choose to include in your routine. This chest/back routine deviates from the typical bench-and-row superset equation, creating the perfect environment for gains in growth and brute strength.


Supersets are typically used for athletes trying to infuse more intensity into their routines – those who want to chase the burn and torch more calories during the workout. They also condense workout time, getting you the results you are looking for, faster.

One common method with superset training is to train a large muscle group with a smaller, related muscle group like triceps with shoulders, or calves with quads. These pairings definitely do the job of improving workout efficiency but oftentimes they can have the unwanted effect of overtraining the smaller muscle group and undertraining the larger one. If, for example, you are one who supersets bench presses with triceps extensions, or heavy rows with cable curls, you’re compromising your gains on all of the exercises because you cannot train any of them with maximum effort.

So this is where science comes in. If you’re looking to truly challenge your muscles while getting an unbelievable pump, why not try training opposing, large muscle groups? Supersetting your chest with your back – as we will explore here – will not only stretch your t-shirt dimensions but it will allow you to train these muscles with greater intensity without sacrificing weight loads.

Research shows that a muscle is actually acutely stronger when it is trained immediately following its agonist (opposing muscle). This is thought to be the result of a phenomenon known as reciprocal inhibition, where a muscle on one side of a joint relaxes to allow for freer movement of the muscle on the other side. And you still get the other benefits: one muscle rests while the other trains, workout time is shortened and you increase your caloric expenditure. So much winning.


Getting back to exercise selection, it’s good to abandon your go-to routine once in a while by swapping out common exercises and/or switching exercise order. Based on reader feedback, anecdotal evidence and our decades of experience in the gym, we know that most of you are going to start your chest day with a flat or incline bench and you’ll start back day with a heavy row. Well, not today.

>> Be explosive first. Doing near-max loads or lighter, more explosive movements first in your workout helps to excite your nervous system and call more fast-twitch muscle into action for the lifts that follow. This is referred to as post-activation potentiation. This makes plyometric push-ups a no-brainer as a first move on this chest-and-back smackdown. This high-performance push-up primes your pressing musculature for the heavier work that lies ahead while also training your pecs, delts and triceps to fire quickly on other movements. On each rep, make sure to get as high off of the ground as possible.

Training your back in this fashion is slightly more complicated but it’s not impossible. One great exercise for exciting the muscles of your back is the Smith-machine plyometric row. Fix a Smith barbell at its lowest possible setting and position yourself as you normally would for a barbell row. Load the barbell with a weight that is approximately 50 percent of your normal 10RM working weight. So if you normally row 165 pounds for 10 reps, load the bar to about 80 pounds. On each rep, come to a full stop at the bottom, inhale deeply and then explode the weight upward, releasing the bar just past the halfway point to “throw” the bar into your upper abdomen. The bar should contact (or come very close to contacting) your body on each rep. Catch the weight and control the barbell back to the floor and repeat for reps.

On all explosive exercises, you’ll rest for 2-3 minutes between sets – even if it doesn’t feel like you need it. This will allow you to replenish your explosive energy stores, allowing you to make the most out of each rep. You’ll complete all sets for each exercise before moving to the next.

>> Master the vertical. As we alluded to earlier, it doesn’t pay to always bench and row first, especially if your upper body development has stalled out. Going from the horizontal realm to the vertical can pay big dividends in strength and size. Enter the pull-up/dip superset, a challenging and underused way to build your pecs and lats in the same session.

Keeping in mind that you have pre-primed these muscle groups with some plyometric work, you should immediately challenge them with more weight. Use a weighted vest or a dip belt – ideally at a station that already has both the pull-up bar and the dip bars – and get to work, ripping out as many pull-ups as you can on your first go – ideally between 6-8. After hitting failure on pull-ups, go straight into dips, performing the same number of reps. Rest one minute, then repeat. Perform as many supersets as necessary until you have reached 50 weighted pull-ups and 50 weighted dips. If you can get more than 8-10 reps each set, add weight or hold the peak contraction of each rep for a full 2-3 seconds.

For your pull-ups, a wider grip will target the upper, outer lats, while an underhand grip will emphasize the lower lats while engaging the biceps to a higher degree.

>> Move to the familiar. Presses and rows, at last. Again hoping to promote parity with these muscle groups, you’ll select a weight that allows no more than 6-8 reps each on the dumbbell incline press and the two-arm dumbbell row. Your shoulder joints will more than likely be feeling the burn by this point, so make sure that your weight loads are on target so that you can still control the weight – no bouncing on your presses or yanking the weight up on your rows.

>> Finish fit. You’ll do a few light supersets to finish. Find a seated row apparatus, then hit the deck next to it for a set of push-ups to failure. Immediately get yourself onto the rowing station and rep out a flushing set of 25 reps. Again, control is paramount here. Even though the weight load is lighter, make sure you get a full stretch and a deliberate contraction of your back muscles on each rep.

Exercise                                               Sets                 Reps
Plyometric Push-Up                                5                     51
Smith-Machine Plyometric Row              5                     51

Weighted Pull-Up                                          50 of each
    -superset with-
Weighted Dip    

Dumbbell Incline Press                            4                    6-8
    -superset with-
Two-Arm Dumbbell Row

Push-Up                                                   4               To Failure
    -superset with-
Seated Cable Row                                   4                     25

1. Complete all sets for each exercise before moving to the next.

2. Perform as many sets as necessary to reach 50 reps. Your weight loads should allow for no more than 6-8 reps per set. If you can do more than 8-10, add weight or hold the peak contraction for 2-3 seconds.


BetaStax Elite

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Original NytroWhey

Catabolism is the enemy of growth, particularly in high-volume muscle groups like the chest and back. That’s why it’s critical that you maintain a strong stream of growth-sustaining aminos to these high-maintenance areas. Original NytroWhey 100% whey isolate has been the go-to protein favored by generations of bodybuilders for precisely this purpose.

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It’s easy to fall into a complacent workout groove when it comes to training back and chest. Shake up your workout with supersets and take your physique to the next level!

Read more about BetaStax Elite here.

Read more about Original NytroWhey here.

Use as directed with a sensible diet and exercise program that includes reduced caloric intake and increased physical activity. Consult a health care professional before beginning any weight loss program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.