Training chest and triceps together is a classic pairing in body-part splits. This makes sense, as the triceps are an ancillary muscle group to the chest. You might feel like these workouts would get old after a while, but with a little creativity in your rep schemes, you can keep triggering new gains—along with some pain, of course.
In this workout, Olympus Lyfestyle athlete and WBFF Bikini Diva Maaxx West—with help from her husband and training partner, Olympus Lyfestyle athlete Carlos Bustamante—takes you through a combination of compound and isolation exercises to hit the chest muscles from all angles and with varying loads. The second half of the workout incorporates higher-rep triceps movements to push the tris to their limit.
On the majority of these movements, you're asked to slow your tempo during the concentric, or positive, and eccentric, or negative, phases of the lifts, so be sure you are consistent with your tempos on each rep and that you're using an appropriate weight.
Here's the workout:
Maaxx West's Chest and Triceps Routine
- Start with a few warm-up sets on the machine flyes, then get to work!
- Machine fly: 3 sets, 5 reps slow on the positive, 5 reps slow on the negative, then reps to failure
- Seated chest press: 3 sets, 5 reps slow on the positive, 5 reps slow on the negative, then reps to failure
- Bench press: 3 sets, 5 reps slow on the positive, 5 reps slow on the negative, then reps to failure
- Triceps dip: 3 sets to failure
- Cable fly: 4 sets, 10 reps pushing forward, 10 reps pushing downward
- Rope push-down: 3 sets, 5 reps slow on the positive, 5 reps slow on the negative, then reps to failure
- Reverse-grip push-down: 3 sets, 5 reps slow on the positive, 5 reps slow on the negative, then reps to failure
- Overhead triceps extension: 3 sets, 12 reps
- Stretch cool-down
Machine Fly (aka Pec-Deck Machine)
Sit with your back flat against the pad, shoulders back, and abs tight. Set the machine so that your hands are just slightly behind your shoulders at the start. For the first 5 reps, bring the weight slowly to the center with a 5-second count before returning to the start. For the second 5 reps, bring the weight in at a normal tempo and return to the start with a slow tempo. After you complete those 10 reps, do as many as you can at normal pace until you reach failure.
Remember to maintain good form by controlling the weight—it should be challenging, but you shouldn't have to muscle it to barely reach full range of motion.
Seated Chest Press
For these, take the same approach as you did with the flyes and perform the 5 slow positives, 5 slow negatives, plus reps to failure. Definitely load up a little lighter than you would for regular sets of seated chest press.
To make sure you aren't pressing only with your anterior delts, pull your shoulder blades together and down, as if you were putting them into your back pocket. Keeping your feet firmly planted into the floor will also give you a more stable base while pressing.
Now you'll move into a compound lift with the classic barbell bench press. Take a grip that's slightly wider than shoulder width—or even wider if that feels more comfortable when you press. Reps 1-5 will be a slow tempo on the eccentric portion of the lift (count 5 seconds in your head), and reps 6-10 will be a slow count on the concentric portion of the lift.
For the bench press, it's important to maintain a tight upper back—this will help make the pressing movement easier and keep your shoulders stable, which helps prevent injury. A useful cue to help you stay tight is to think about "bending the bar" as you bring it down to your chest.
Hop on the dip bar, or use a dip machine if you need assistance on this movement. If you don't have a dip machine, you can also hang a large band across the dip bar handles and rest your knees in it as a way of assisting you in doing the reps with good form.
No matter which setup you use, keep your elbows tucked in close to your body, not flared out, as you perform the downward portion. This will help protect your shoulder joints from being compromised. Once your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, press up through your palms until your elbows are completely extended.
Another classic chest movement with a twist! You'll perform your first 10 reps as you normally see this exercise done, pressing forward in a controlled manner. The cables will help you maintain tension on the chest muscles and keep your core braced.
After you complete these, readjust your position so that you are pushing the handles from a wide grip with palms facing down. Instead of bringing the handles out in front of your chest, bring them downward toward the floor until they meet in the center in front of you for another 10 reps.
Time to blast the triceps again. Grab a rope attachment and set the pulley at the top of the cable tower. Start with your elbows at slightly less than a 90-degree angle and bring the rope down, focusing on moving the weight with your triceps. Get a good squeeze at the bottom before controlling the weight back up to the start.
Follow the previously described protocol, doing 5 slow positive reps, 5 slow negative reps, and blasting the triceps to failure to finish each set.
Now, change up the push-downs slightly. Grab an EZ-bar attachment to replace the rope. You can use a straight-bar attachment if an EZ-bar is not available, but the EZ-bar will be more comfortable for your wrists.
Hold the attachment at the ends of the bar with an underhand grip. This targets the medial head of the triceps, while the rope push-down hits more of the lateral head. Perform the reverse-grip push-downs with the same rep scheme and technique as used on the rope push-downs.
Overhead Triceps Extension
Grab your rope attachment again, this time setting the pulley at the bottom of the cable tower. Holding the ends of the rope attachment, turn your body to face away from the tower and take a staggered stance with a slight lean away from the tower. Start with your elbows bent and your hands behind your head.
No slow reps on this exercise, just a steady, controlled press up above your head until your elbows are locked out and the triceps are contracted. You will get more out of this movement when you don't rush the reps. While it hits all three heads of the triceps, the overhead position helps to target the long head the most.
Post-workout is the time to do your static stretching to help prevent tight or sore muscles and maintain your range of motion. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.