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Chest Triceps Workout for Strength

Here’s an advanced five-exercise workout to build chest and triceps muscle mass and strength.

Most chest triceps workout for strength focus on either building muscle size or strength. The majority of trainers, though, want both. To optimize muscle mass and strength, you need to train in a specific way.

chest triceps workout for strength

In this article, we’ll lay out a workout to hit all areas of the chest and triceps for optimum mass gains while maxing your strength output.

chest triceps workout for strength

Training for Strength & Mass

There is a direct correlation between the size of your muscles and how strong you are. A 2002 study measured the correlation between strength and muscle mass of male powerlifters and found that a subject’s muscle mass accounted for 77 percent of their strength. [1]

The result suggests that training for increased muscle mass will also increase your strength levels.

chest triceps workout for strength

However, training for adding muscle mass and strength at the same rate requires a different training approach, with the key difference coming down to the training repetition range.

chest triceps workout for strength
chest triceps workout for strength
Ronnie Coleman


Training For Adding Muscle Mass

When training for muscle hypertrophy, you should work the muscles to near failure. The ideal rep range to work a muscle is between five and 40 reps per set [2]. The amount of weight used should be in the 40-85 percent of your one rep max (1RM) range.

Training for mass involves hitting a muscle from every angle while following a full range of motion.

Training for Building Strength

Numerous studies have shown that the ideal reps for building strength are between one and five. Furthermore, the training load should be 85 percent (and more) than your 1RM. [3]

Strength training focuses on big compound lifts like bench presses, squats, and deadlifts.

Training Chest for Size and Strength

A bigger and stronger chest will greatly improve your upper body pressing ability. When it comes to getting stronger on the bench press, research shows that the pectoralis major and the anterior deltoid provide 74 percent of the force required to push through the sticking point of the exercise [4]. This compares to just 26 percent force coming from the triceps.

chest triceps workout for strength

The bottom line here is that to develop an awesome pressing ability, you need to train your chest. For optimal mass gains, work the pecs through their full range of motion to engage maximum muscle fibers.

Chest Exercises

chest triceps workout for strength
Barbell Bench Press

In order to hit all muscle fibers, you should train your pecs from a range of angles [5]. That includes doing exercises from a flat, incline, and decline angle. For this workout, we will work the pecs from each of these angles with the following exercises:

  • Flat barbell bench press
  • Incline dumbbell bench press
  • Dips

While the flat bench press will engage all the pectoral muscle fibers, the incline dumbbell press will preferentially work the upper pecs. Plus, dumbbells allow you to achieve a bigger range of motion than the barbell.

chest triceps workout for strength

Dips emphasize the lower pectoral fibers.

Sets and Reps

In this workout, you will be training for a combination of strength and power. Here’s what your sets and reps will look like on each chest exercise:

1. Bench Press Reps

The bench press will be your main strength developer. You’ll be doing a total of five sets with reps ranging from 12 down to three.

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chest triceps workout for strength
Bench Press Exercise

Here’s the breakdown:

  • First Set (warm-up): 12 reps @ 50 percent of 1RM
  • Second Set: 6 reps @ 80 percent of 1RM
  • Third Set: 4 reps @ 85 percent of 1RM
  • Fourth Set: 3 reps @ 90 percent of 1RM
  • Fifth Set: 3 reps @ 90 percent of 1RM

Make sure that you have a trustworthy spotter who knows how to give just enough help to get you past the sticking point on your last couple of reps.

chest triceps workout for strength

Your rest between sets on the bench press should be two to three minutes. You want to be sufficiently recovered so that you can give maximum effort on your next set.

chest triceps workout for strength

2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Reps

The incline dumbbell press is your primary mass builder for the chest. You will do a combination of high reps to target your slow twitch muscle fibers and low reps for your fast twitch fibers. Perform a total of four sets of this exercise.

chest triceps workout for strength
chest triceps workout for strength
chest triceps workout for strength

Here’s the breakdown:

  • First Set: 30 reps
  • Second Set: 15 reps
  • Third Set: 10 reps
  • Fourth Set: 8 reps

Use a weight so that the last 20 percent of reps are challenging. You should be knocking out the last couple of reps with difficulty.

Your rest between sets on the incline dumbbell press will be shorter than the bench press. Your goal is to build a stair step of intensity on the muscle to overload the fibers. Limit yourself to 60 seconds of rest on this exercise.

3. Dips Reps

Dips are a bodyweight exercise that requires you to move your entire body against gravity. Coming at the end of the chest routine, the dips will be pretty challenging.

chest triceps workout for strength

In this exercise, you will be doing three sets to failure, meaning you keep pumping out reps until you cannot do another unaided rep with proper form. You should expect to get between 8-15 reps on each set. If 15 reps feel easy, feel free to add resistance by using a dumbbell or weight plate.

chest triceps workout for strength

Make sure you are leaning forward at a 45-degree angle with the floor when doing chest dips. Keep your rest between sets on this exercise between 45-60 seconds.

chest triceps workout for strength

Training Triceps for Size and Strength

The triceps make up two-thirds of the upper arms, so if you want massive guns, you’ve got to work your tris hard and often.

chest triceps workout for strength

For maximum mass gains, you need to work all three heads. To hit the lateral head, you need to be doing pressing exercises. So, the bench press that you’re doing mainly for your chest will also develop this part of the triceps.

chest triceps workout for strength

When it comes to working the long and medial triceps heads, you need to do more targeted exercises for those areas. In a 2020 study, the bench press was compared with the lying barbell triceps press in terms of triceps stimulation and growth. [6]

The study involved two groups of trainers. One group did the bench press for 10 weeks while the other did the lying triceps extension. The group who did the triceps press had significantly better gains in the lateral and medial triceps heads than those who did the bench press.

The long triceps head is the largest of the three heads. It differs from the lateral and medial heads as it originates on the shoulder blade and crosses over the shoulder joint. As a result, the position of your arm will affect the length of the long head.

chest triceps workout for strength

A 2018 study compared the effects of doing the overhead triceps extension and triceps pushdown. Both exercises produced the same level of muscle growth in the long head, but that growth was distributed differently across the head. [7]

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The triceps pushdown produced strength evenly across the long head, while the overhead triceps extension targeted growth in the distal part of the long head, close to the elbow.

chest triceps workout for strength

These studies lay out the best strategy for optimum triceps development. You should be doing:

  • A pressing movement to target the lateral head.
  • An overhead movement to work the long head.
  • A pushdown movement to hit the long and medial heads.

Triceps Exercises

The first exercise in the triceps routine will be the bench press, which you’ve already done in the chest routine. The five sets of heavy presses will give the lateral triceps head a good workout, improving its mass and power.

4. Lying Triceps Extension

In the lying triceps extension, you’ll be placing your arms overhead to activate the long head. This exercise can be done with a barbell or dumbbell. However, you should try both as many people find that the dumbbell version allows better isolation of each arm and a fuller range of motion. On the other hand, a barbell can help lift heavier and shorten your workout duration.

You can also do a single-arm version of the exercise with a dumbbell. This allows you to use your free hand to keep your working elbow in place, preventing it from flaring out.

chest triceps workout for strength

Sets and Reps

You will be doing four sets of lying triceps extensions to stimulate your triceps. Here’s the breakdown:

  • First Set: 30 reps
  • Second Set: 15 reps
  • Third Set: 10 reps
  • Fourth Set: 8 reps

You should rest 45-60 seconds between sets on this exercise.

chest triceps workout for strength
chest triceps workout for strength


The cable triceps pushdown is a good finisher as it hits all three heads. Make sure that your elbows are locked in at your sides and that you are only moving your forearms. Stop just short of lockout to keep the tension on the triceps.

chest triceps workout for strength

You’ll be doing the same set and rep scheme as in the previous exercise:

  • First Set: 30 reps
  • Second Set: 15 reps
  • Third Set: 10 reps
  • Fourth Set: 8 reps

Rest 45-60 seconds between sets on this exercise.

Chest & Triceps Workout for Muscle & Strength

Here is an overview of the training session:

  1. Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 12, 6, 4, 3, 3 reps
  2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 30, 15, 10, 8 reps
  3. Dips: 3 sets to failure
  4. Lying Triceps Extension: 4 sets of 30, 15, 10, 8 reps
  5. Cable Triceps Pushdown: 4 sets of 30, 15, 10, 8 reps


How often should I train my chest and triceps?

You should train your chest and triceps every four days. Give yourself at least three days of rest between workouts. So, if you are training chest and triceps on Monday, you can repeat the workout on Friday.

Should I train chest or triceps first?

You should always train the chest before the triceps. That’s because the triceps are a much smaller muscle group; if you work them first, they will be too fatigued to assist in your chest training. As a result, they will prevent you from working your chest with maximum intensity.

chest triceps workout for strength

Are two exercises sufficient for the triceps?

Yes, two exercises are sufficient to work the triceps in this case. If you are training triceps after chest, the muscle will already be activated from the pressing moves you have already done in your pec-training routine. Performing an exercise to target the long head, such as the overhead triceps extension, and a lift for the overall muscle, like the triceps pushdown, will allow you to hit the triceps from all angles.

chest triceps workout for strength

However, if you are training the triceps first, you may want to add a pressing movement such as the close grip barbell bench press at the start of the workout.

chest triceps workout for strength


The five exercise chest and triceps workout we’ve covered in this article will allow you to increase both the strength and size of your pecs and triceps. However, it will only happen if you constantly push yourself to lift heavier weights without compromising your form. As your strength increases, keep adding pounds to the bar, adjusting reps accordingly, and you will continue to experience exponential growth.

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  1. Brechue WF, Abe T. The role of FFM accumulation and skeletal muscle architecture in powerlifting performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Feb;86(4):327-36. doi: 10.1007/s00421-001-0543-7. PMID: 11990746.
  2. Schoenfeld, Brad J.1; Grgic, Jozo2; Ogborn, Dan3; Krieger, James W.4. Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations Between Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: December 2017 – Volume 31 – Issue 12 – p 3508-3523 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002200
  3. Thiago Lasevicius, Carlos Ugrinowitsch, Brad Jon Schoenfeld, Hamilton Roschel, Lucas Duarte Tavares, Eduardo Oliveira De Souza, Gilberto Laurentino & Valmor Tricoli (2018) Effects of different intensities of resistance training with equated volume load on muscle strength and hypertrophy, European Journal of Sport Science, 18:6, 772-780, DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2018.1450898
  4. Larsen S, Gomo O, van den Tillaar R. A Biomechanical Analysis of Wide, Medium, and Narrow Grip Width Effects on Kinematics, Horizontal Kinetics, and Muscle Activity on the Sticking Region in Recreationally Trained Males During 1-RM Bench Pressing. Front Sports Act Living. 2021 Jan 22;2:637066. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2020.637066. PMID: 33554113; PMCID: PMC7862765.
  5. Chaves SFN, Rocha-JÚnior VA, EncarnaÇÃo IGA, Martins-Costa HC, Freitas EDS, Coelho DB, Franco FSC, Loenneke JP, Bottaro M, Ferreira-JÚnior JB. Effects of Horizontal and Incline Bench Press on Neuromuscular Adaptations in Untrained Young Men. Int J Exerc Sci. 2020 Aug 1;13(6):859-872. PMID: 32922646; PMCID: PMC7449336.
  6. Brandão, Lucas1; de Salles Painelli, Vitor1,2; Lasevicius, Thiago2; Silva-Batista, Carla2,3; Brendon, Helderson1; Schoenfeld, Brad Jon4; Aihara, André Yui5; Cardoso, Fabiano Nassar5; de Almeida Peres, Bergson1; Teixeira, Emerson Luiz1,2. Varying the Order of Combinations of Single- and Multi-Joint Exercises Differentially Affects Resistance Training Adaptations. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: May 2020 – Volume 34 – Issue 5 – p 1254-1263 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003550
  7. Stasinaki A-N, Zaras N, Methenitis S, Tsitkanou S, Krase A, Kavvoura A, Terzis G. Triceps Brachii Muscle Strength and Architectural Adaptations with Resistance Training Exercises at Short or Long Fascicle Length. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology. 2018; 3(2):28.


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