Can the bicep and chest be trained on the same day? Yes, here is the best bicep and chest workout. There are no rules to which muscles should or shouldn’t be trained together, but it’s important to have a strategic periodization of your workout throughout the whole week. Read more to learn how to create a great bicep and chest workout!
In this article, we are going to focus on the most important factors to keep in mind when doing a bicep and chest workout. First, we will take an in-depth look at the chest and biceps muscles individually, before we then can see how we can intelligently create a bicep and chest workout. We will also provide you with some sample biceps and chest workouts.
The chest muscles are known as pectorals or pecs. According to Britannica, the pecs consist of the muscles that connect the pecs with the arms and shoulder. They are known as the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major is the larger muscle and originates at the clavicle. It stretches across the top of the chest and is attached to the humerus.
The major functions of the pectoralis major are adduction and rotation of the arm.
The Pectoralis minor, on the other hand, is beneath the pectoralis major. It stretches from the middle part of the ribs to the scapula. The main functions of the pectoralis minor are pulling the shoulders forward and downward (Britannica, 2022).
Correspondingly, we split chest training into clavicular, costal, and sternal pec.
The clavicular part of the pec is also known as the upper pec, the sternal as the middle, and the costal pec as the lower part of the pectoralis. As you can see, it is vital to know how to target the different areas of the pecs for your bicep and chest workout.
Exercises to target the clavicular pectoralis include 45-60° Incline Dumbbell or Barbell Presses, Incline Machine Presses, and Clavicular Cable Fly’s. When doing Dumbbell Presses, keep your elbows closer to your torso, as opposed to higher up.
For the Cable Fly’s, place the cables at the lowest setting, and push the cable high towards the top of your chest and above your head.
Costal pecs can be trained with High Cable Presses and Fly, Decline Presses and Fly’s, as well as Flat Presses or Fly. When performing High Cable Presses or Fly, place the cables at the highest setting, bend over with your body tilted slightly towards the ground, and aim around your nipples.
As for focusing on sternal pecs, the following exercises are great options: Cable Fly’s (shoulder height), 30-45° Incline Presses and Fly’s, Incline Chest Machine Presses, and Machine Fly’s. For the Cable Fly’s, again, aim to end the concentric portion around your nipples.
Dumbbells or Barbells for Chest Workouts?
Kassem Hanson at N1Education says that using a width wider than 1.5x your acromioclavicular (AC) length are correlated with more injuries. The AC length is your shoulder balls (N1Education, 2022).
Therefore, we want to keep the elbows closer to the torso, and not further away, when doing chest exercises. For that reason, dumbbells can be more beneficial to target the chest compared to the barbell, and they can minimize injuries.
Likewise, let’s focus on understanding the biceps muscles so you can maximize your bicep and chest workout.
The biceps is known as biceps brachii in medical terms. It is made up of the short head, which is called caput breve, and the long head which is caput longum. Biceps brachii is the antagonist of triceps brachii or the triceps as we all know it. The biceps is strong when it comes to forearm supination, but as an elbow flexor it is weaker (StatPearls, 2022).
Biceps brachii is connected to the bones by tendons, which are tough connective fibers. One of its functions is to pull the forearm up and turn it outward when it contracts (WebMD, 2022).
Assuredly, the biceps is not only an elbow flexor and extensor but also a supinator. Consequently, to fully shorten your biceps, it is necessary to perform an exercise that allows for shoulder flexion.
An example is a Prone Preacher Dumbbell Curl. Secondly, you have to supinate the dumbbell throughout the movement. In this way, you will have supination and elbow flexion.
To train your biceps in a lengthened position, we want the arms slightly behind the torso. This can be achieved through an Incline Dumbbell Curl or Low Pulley Cable Curls.
Long Head of the Biceps
The long head is on the outside of your arm, and is what makes your biceps look long or short. Exercises to target the long head include Low Pully Cable Curls (Face away), Incline Dumbbell Curls, and Incline Supinating Dumbbell Curls.
Short Head of the Biceps
The short head, however, is located on the inner side of your arm. It is what makes your biceps look thick and full. The following are some exercises to target the short head: High Cable Curls (Face towards cables), Concentration Curls, and Preacher Curls.
Mid-Range of the Biceps
We do not want to only focus on the shortened and lengthened position of the biceps, but also on the mid-range. Some great exercises that primarily train the mid-range are Dumbbell Curls (sitting or standing), Supinating Dumbbell Curls, Prone Incline Curls (supinated and regular), and Machine Arm Curls.
How Do We Program a Bicep and Chest Workout?
Following this, we have thoroughly examined both the chest and bicep muscles individually, and we can examine how we can create an efficient bicep and chest workout.
What workout suits you best depends on you as an individual, and what your goals are.
Whether you are focused on metabolic workouts, hypertrophy, or neurological training, the programming will be different. Sets, reps, and tempo may vary drastically in these different kinds of training phases.
The Three Different Phases of Training
During metabolic workouts, the time under tension is longer, and the rest ratios are lower than in the other two phases. This is often called the “fat loss” phase, even though there are other reasons to have metabolic workouts as well.
Furthermore, for hypertrophy workouts, we usually have a pretty high duration of time under tension, moderate rest periods, and very often more sets to failure than metabolic and neurological training.
This is the phase where we’re most often focused on adding muscle. Lastly, we have neurological workouts. Here we have the lowest time under tension, fewer reps, and longer rest periods. This is where we push the heavyweights!
How to Read Tempo and Sets
Tempo is a vital part of working out that is rarely mentioned among the common gym-goers. It can be used for progression and changing resistance profiles.
Let’s take an example tempo like, (3-0-1-0), to understand how we can read it. The numbers are in seconds. We will use a dumbbell bench press to demonstrate this example.
3 – Time spent in the eccentric part of the lift (lifting the dumbbells down towards your chest).
0 – Time spent “pausing/stretching” at the eccentric (when your dumbbells are at the bottom of the rep).
1 – Time spent in the concentric part of the lift (pushing the dumbbells up from the bottom).
0 – Time spent “pausing/squeezing” in the concentric (the top of the rep).
With this in mind, we can make out how to read the number of sets. We will use an A1, A2, B1, C1, etc. system.
A1) Machine Chest Press, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-0), 0s rest
A2) Dumbbell Fly, 3 x 12, (3-0-1-0), 60s rest
Begin with A1) and do the prescribed amount of reps with the correct tempo, and rest, before moving onto A2) and repeating. Remember, perform one set of A1, then another of A2). Do this until all sets are completed, before moving onto B1 and following the same concept.
Certainly, it is important to understand the difference between the eccentric and concentric parts of the exercise.
The eccentric is the lengthened position, while the concentric is the shortened position. Not all exercises start at the eccentric. A lat pull-down starts with the concentric, whereas a squat will begin with the eccentric part of the lift.
Metabolic Chest and Bicep Workout
A1) 60° Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 x 8-10, (3-1-1-0), 0s rest
A2) Cable Fly, Pulley Highest Setting, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-1), 45s rest
B1) Flat Dumbbell Press, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-0), 0s rest
B2) Cable Fly, Pulley Lowest Setting, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-1), 45s rest
C1) Incline Biceps Cable Curl (Face Away), 3 x 8-10, (3-1-1-0), 0s rest
C2) Supinated Reverse Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-1), 45s rest
Hypertrophy Chest and Bicep Workout
A1) Flat Dumbbell Press, 4 x 8-10, (4-0-1-0), 30s rest
A2) Cable Fly, Pulley Highest Setting, 4 x 8-10, (3-0-1-1), 60s rest
B1) 45° Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-0), 30s rest
B2) Cable Fly, Pulley Lowest Setting, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-1), 60s rest
C1) Concentration Curls, 3 x 8-10, (3-0-1-1), 30s rest
C2) Incline Dumbbell Curls, 3 x 8-10, (3-1-1-0), 60s rest
Neurological Chest and Bicep Workout
A1) Flat Dumbbell Press, 5 x 4-6, (3-0-1-0),1 min rest
A2) 30° Incline Dumbbell Fly, 5 x 4-6, (3-0-1-1), 2-3 min rest
B1) Incline Machine Press, 5 x 4-6, (3-0-1-0), 1 min rest
B2) Cable Fly, Pulley Highest Setting, 5 x 4-6, (3-0-1-1), 2-3 min rest
C1) High Cable Biceps Curls, 4 x 6, (3-0-1-1), 1 min rest
C2) Incline Dumbbell Curls, 4 x 6, (3-1-1-0), 2-3 min rest
At last, we have looked at three different phases for a bicep and chest workout. There are many similar exercises, but the reps, sets, and tempo, vary drastically. Undoubtedly, this makes a huge impact. What phase you should be in depends on what you have done in the past, and what your future fitness goals are.
We have taken a deep dive into the bicep and chest workout. At first, we studied the biceps and chest muscles individually to gain a deeper understanding of the muscles, then we inquired into how we intelligently can program such a workout. What kind of workout you should do and what kind of phase you should be in, is very individually dependent. This is something you either have to answer for yourself or consult with a personal trainer if you feel like that would benefit you.
Thank you for reading our article!
– Terry Asher
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