Looking for a chest and bicep bodybuilding workout to gain strength and mass? Look no further!
Few muscles draw more attention than your chest muscles and your biceps. A well-defined chest and a pair of bulging biceps tell the world that you have been working out. In addition, strong chest and biceps muscles are essential for every athlete and lifter. Every time you push something away from you, your chest is a key player. When you pull something towards you, your biceps are doing at least some of the work.
This article outlines a great chest and bicep workout that will help you build bigger and stronger pecs and arms.
Can You Train Chest and Biceps on the Same Day?
Absolutely! You might be more familiar with the chest and triceps combo or the push/pull/legs routine that has you training chest, shoulders, and triceps on the same day. However, training chest and biceps together is also a great way to structure your workouts.
One of our most popular training splits, the upper/lower body split program, combines chest and bicep training in the same workout. Think of an isolated chest and bicep workout as a more focused version.
Benefits of Training Chest and Biceps Together
There are several benefits of working chest and biceps on the same day.
- Chest and biceps don’t interfere with each other. When doing chest and triceps together, you’ll inevitably be tired when it’s time to train the second muscle. Combining chest and biceps allows you to train each muscle when it’s fresh and rested, which means you can use heavier weights and stimulate more growth.
- Training chest and biceps on the same day allows you to focus on the muscle that needs the most attention. In general, it’s a good idea to train the muscle group you prioritize first in your workout when you’re strongest and have the most energy. Combining chest and biceps lets you do that. Because your biceps aren’t directly involved in your chest training, you can begin your training session with either muscle and still perform your best.
- If you train your entire body in a single workout, you can’t do many sets for each muscle group without spending half the day in the gym. If you only train one muscle group per training session, you’d need to work out almost every day to cover your entire body. Combining chest and biceps is an excellent middle-ground that lets you train each muscle once or twice per week to your preferences.
Chest and Bicep Workout Routine: The Basics
In this workout, you’ll be training chest first, then move on to biceps. Feel free to flip things around and start with biceps if you like, but training chest before biceps probably feels more natural for most people.
The chest and bicep workout routine is for the intermediate to advanced lifter, not the beginner. For a perfect start in your training career, look no further than the StrengthLog barbell training program for the beginner. If you’re a beginner looking to get stronger in the bench press, check out our beginner bench press program.
Research shows that doing multi-joint exercises, like the bench press, at the beginning of an exercise session produces superior gains in strength.1 Everyone wants to be able to bench heavier, which is why it’s a good idea to start with bench presses instead of saving them for later in the workout. The chest and bicep workout routine kicks off with bench presses before moving to lighter isolation work.
You’ll mainly be using free weights, doing compound moves and isolation exercises, with rep ranges from six to 12. All you need for this workout is a barbell, a set of dumbbells, and an adjustable bench. A cable crossover machine is helpful but not necessary.
- Bench press: 4 sets x 6–10 reps
- Incline dumbbell press 4 sets x 8 reps
- Standing cable chest fly 3 sets x 10 reps
- Push-up 3 set x max reps
You’ll do 14 sets for your chest and 12 sets for your biceps. According to recent research, 12–20 weekly sets may optimize muscle growth.2 That means that one session of the chest and bicep workout routine per week is enough for great gains, but also that you can do it twice weekly and ensure you’re getting more than enough training volume to ensure maximum muscle growth. An insurance policy for gains, if you will.
Rest 2–3 minutes between sets and between each exercise. Studies show that you need at least two-minute rest intervals to maximize strength gains and muscle growth.3 4 The exception in this program is the finishing exercise of the chest workout, where you’ll only be resting a minute between sets to get the best pump possible.
A good warmup prepares your body for strenuous work and ensures you perform your best. Benefits of warming up include increasing blood flow to your muscles, raising your body temperature, and making you mentally prepared for the hard work to come. It might also reduce the risk of injury.
Consider doing 5–10 minutes of light to moderate-intensity cardio on a bike or a treadmill to get the blood pumping, elevate your heart rate, and raise your body temperature. The purpose is to get warm and ready, not exhaust yourself, so don’t go all-out. The cardio part of the warm-up is helpful but not essential, so you can skip it and go straight to the weights if you’re short on time or hate cardio.
Don’t go straight to your work sets, though. Work your way up to your first actual set by gradually increasing the weight over several warm-up sets. The heavier the weight you’ll be using, the more prep sets you’ll need.
The bench press is the first exercise of the workout, so start with an empty bar and add weight to it for the number of sets you need to reach your working weight. One or two warm-up sets are probably enough for the second exercise, the incline dumbbell press. After that, you shouldn’t need to warm up more until you begin your bicep session.
Once you’ve warmed up properly, you’re ready for the real work, starting with the bench press.
The workout begins with the barbell bench press. The bench press involves all the muscle fibers of your pecs and is one of the best, if not the best, chest exercises for strength and muscle mass. It is often called the king of upper body exercises, and for a good reason. Starting your workout with a barbell exercise ensures you can use heavier weights for maximum gains.
You’ll be utilizing the pyramid training method in the bench press. That means starting with a fairly light weight and increasing the load with each set, going from ten reps in the first set to six in the last. You can see the exact set configuration in your StrengthLog app.
Muscles Worked in the Bench Press
How to Bench Press with Proper Form
- Lie on the bench, pull your shoulder blades together and down, and slightly arch your back.
- Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale, hold your breath, and unrack the bar.
- Lower the bar with control, until it touches your chest somewhere close to your sternum.
- Push the bar up to the starting position while exhaling.
- Take another breath while in the top position, and repeat for reps.
Rest 2–3 minutes before moving on to the dumbbell incline press.
Dumbbell Incline Press
The dumbbell incline press is a tremendous mass-builder for the entire chest, emphasizing the upper part. According to research, incline presses lead to more significant muscle growth of the upper chest than using a flat bench.5 That’s why you’re doing both flat and incline presses in the chest and bicep workout routine: a complete workout for a complete chest.
Using a set of dumbbells instead of a barbell allows for a full range of motion, which might benefit muscle hypertrophy. In addition, many people find it easier to get into position and feel the right muscles working when using dumbbells instead of a barbell for incline chest presses.
Muscles Worked in Incline Dumbbell Press
How to Incline Dumbbell Press
- Sit on a bench, and lift a pair of dumbbells up to the starting position.
- Press the dumbbells up to straight arms, while exhaling.
- Inhale at the top, or while lowering the dumbbells with control back to your shoulders.
- Repeat for reps.
Take another 2–3 minutes to recover. Then it’s time for some flyes.
Standing Cable Chest Fly
The cable chest fly keeps constant tension on the muscle during the entire movement, stimulating your pecs throughout the full range of motion. The result is not just muscle growth but a great pump as well.
Get a good stretch at the top of the movement and contract your chest muscles forcefully at the bottom of the movement.
Muscles Worked in Standing Cable Chest Flyes
How to Do Standing Cable Chest Flyes
- Fasten a pair of handles in the top position of a cable cross. Grip the handles, step forward, and lean slightly forward.
- With just a slight bend in the arms, push the handles forward until they meet in front of your body.
- With control, let the handles go back to the starting position.
Rest 2–3 minutes and get ready for the finishing exercise for your chest: the good old push-up.
The push-up is one of the classic moves used by fitness enthusiasts for more than a century to build a muscular and toned chest and upper body. You might not think of the push-up as a mass– and strength builder, but you’d be pleasantly wrong. Research shows that push-ups and bench presses are comparably effective for muscle hypertrophy and strength gain.6
In this workout, you’re doing them as a finisher. Go all-out and do as many as you can for three sets. I want you to only rest for a minute between sets to pump your pecs to the max.
Muscles Worked in Push-Ups
How to Do Push-Ups
- Assume the starting position, with hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Try to form a straight line from head to feet, and brace your abdomen slightly.
- Lower yourself as deep as you can, while inhaling.
- Reverse the motion when you’ve touched the floor, and push yourself up to straight arms again while exhaling.
- Repeat for reps.
That concludes the chest workout. Rest up and get ready for a biceps workout, starting with the good old barbell curl.
Again, you’re starting with a barbell exercise, this time the cornerstone of many bicep routines, including this one: the barbell curl. The barbell curl is one of the best biceps exercises to help you build stronger and bigger arms and generally allows you to lift a heavier weight than you can with dumbbells.
For most reps, make sure you use proper form and don’t swing your arms or body to get the bar going. You want your biceps to do all the work. However, feel free to use a little momentum on the last repetition of your sets. Doing so allows you to get past the sticking point and do one more rep than you would have otherwise. Used sparingly, the “cheat curl” is an effective way to overload your biceps and force them to grow.
Muscles Worked in Barbell Curls
How to Barbell Curl
- Grip a bar with an underhand (supinated) grip, hands about shoulder-width apart.
- Lift the bar with control, by flexing your elbows.
- Don’t let your upper arm travel back during the curl, keep it at your side or move it slightly forward.
- Reverse the movement and lower the bar back to the starting position.
Rest 2–3 minutes, then it’s hammer time! Hammer curl time that is.
The hammer curl is a variation of the traditional bicep curl. A cool thing about hammer curls is that it also works your forearms to a greater degree, especially the large brachioradialis muscle on the thumb side of your forearm. Hammer curls target the long head of the bicep along with another upper arm muscle called the brachialis, and your forearms in a single package, making it a tremendous exercise for building thick, massive arms.
Muscles Worked in Hammer Curls
How to Hammer Curl
- Hold a pair of dumbbells in a neutral grip (palms facing each other), arms hanging by your sides.
- Lift the dumbbells with control, by flexing your elbows.
- Don’t let your upper arms travel back during the curl. Keep them at your sides or move them slightly forward.
- Reverse the movement and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Take a 2–3 minute breather, then finish your workout in style with the incline dumbbell curl.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
This is it! The finisher of your biceps workout and the entire training session. Let’s go for the pump with the incline dumbbell curl.
You force your biceps into a stretched and extended position by keeping your arms behind your body when doing incline dumbbell curls. Doing so promotes potentially greater muscle growth and gives you an out-of-this-world muscle pump.
Making a light weight feel heavy is one of the key training techniques in bodybuilding. Use a lower weight than you would use in the regular dumbbell curl. You’ll be surprised at how heavy even a relatively light weight feels with your arms in this position.
Muscles Worked in the Incline Dumbbell Curls
How to Do Incline Dumbbell Curls
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, and sit down on an inclined bench. Let your arms hang straight down by your sides.
- Lift the dumbbells with control, by flexing your elbows.
- Reverse the movement and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s do some FAQ!
Can I Use Supersets With the Chest and Bicep Workout Routine?
No problem! Doing supersets is an excellent way to save time and get an even greater muscle pump. A chest and bicep superset session works better than supersetting chest and triceps because the muscle groups don’t interfere with each other.
A superset version of the workout could look like this:
- Bench press + barbell curl
- Incline dumbbell press + hammer curl
- Standing cable chest fly + incline dumbbell curl
Then finish off with push-ups as usual.
How Do I Fit the Chest and Bicep Workout Routine into My Training Split?
The chest and bicep workout routine is very versatile. You can fit it into most training splits. This is an example of a four-day training split:
- Day one: chest and biceps
- Day two: legs and calves
- Day three: shoulders and triceps
- Day four: back and abs
You can either train each muscle group once per week by resting on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, or train four days in a row followed by a rest day for greater training frequency.
And that’s just one example of many.
Track the Chest and Bicep Workout Routine in the StrengthLog App
There you have it! A complete chest and bicep routine that hits the targeted muscle groups from all different angles for the best results in the form of muscle gains and strength.
If you want to grow bigger and stronger, the key to fast and consistent gains in strength and muscle is to increase the weight you use in your training or to do more reps.
It’s almost impossible to keep track of your progress without a workout log. Our app StrengthLog is 100% free to download and use as a workout tracker and general strength training app. All the basic functionality is free – forever.
You’ll also find a bunch of training programs and workouts in the app. Many are free, but our more advanced programs and workouts (such as this one) are for premium users only.
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Good luck with your training, buddy!
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- J Hum Kinet. 2022 Jan; 81: 199–210. A Systematic Review of The Effects of Different Resistance Training Volumes on Muscle Hypertrophy.
- Sports Medicine Volume 48, Pages 137–151 (2018). Effects of Rest Interval Duration in Resistance Training on Measures of Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review.
- Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Sep;17(8):983-993. The effects of short versus long inter-set rest intervals in resistance training on measures of muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review.
- Int J Exerc Sci. 2020; 13(6): 859–872. Effects of Horizontal and Incline Bench Press on Neuromuscular Adaptations in Untrained Young Men.
- Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness, Volume 15, Issue 1, June 2017, Pages 37-42. Low-load bench press and push-up induce similar muscle hypertrophy and strength gain.