– Pectoralis minor. Because it rests beneath the larger pec muscle, it doesn’t have the same visual impact as the pec major, but it performs a stabilizing function and aids in scapular mobility. Dip variations are the best way to train it.
– Serratus anterior. These stabilizing muscles, which are located directly below the pec major, got their name from the fact that they resemble the edge of a serrated knife on a lean, well-developed physique.
– Triceps brachii. The triceps brachii is made up of three parts: the long head, lateral head, and medial head (all of which are part of the same muscle). The long and medial heads are on the closest side of the arm to the body, while the lateral head is on the opposite side. The three heads work together to extend the elbow and support the shoulder joints, but the long head also assists in drawing the upper arm closer to the body. As with the chest, some exercises are more suited to working one head over the other, thus triceps training should be varied.
The Best Chest and Triceps Exercises
Best Chest Exercises
“The pushup is something that gets overlooked, especially in old-school bodybuilding circles,” Rusin explains. Rusin believes it’s “unbelievable for not only chest strength but full-body functional strength,” even though it’s unglamorous and old-fashioned.
Because the shoulder blades aren’t pushed down by a bench like they are with a barbell bench press, the pushup allows them to move freely. This helps build a more functional chest and upper back by adding a component of dynamic stability to the posterior (back) side of the body, which can’t be done with pure isolation moves like flys and cable crossovers. Most guys treat pushups as a finisher, completing high reps after a session to burn up their chests, but Rusin prefers to prioritize them. If you load the pushup with chains, sandbags, or a weight plate and do sets of 5–15, you’ll get more out of it, he says.
2. Dumbbell Bench Press
This popular choice among lifters of all hues offers a full range of motion at the shoulders, allowing for maximal pec stretch. This is wonderful for muscular development, but the fact that dumbbell pressing also allows for normal wrist rotation is crucial for long-term growth and injury prevention. Unlike pressing with a barbell, your joints can move in the direction that is most comfortable for them, rather than the path dictated by the bar your hands are attached to. “They’re also fantastic for connecting the mind and the muscles,” explains Rusin. That is, your capacity to focus on the muscles you’re working on in order to activate them as effectively as possible.
If you press on a flat bench, at a small drop of 10–20 degrees (tuck one or two plates under the foot of the bench), or at an incline of up to 45 degrees, you’ll gain these benefits.
3. Barbell Bench Press
This time-honored measuring stick of upper-body strength should be a fixture of any advanced lifter’s program, according to Rusin, assuming you make a few adjustments (and can perform it without shoulder pain).
“People make the mistake of always benching with the same grip on the same bar on the same flat bench,” Rusin explains. To keep your chest expanding and avoid overuse problems, you need some diversity in your barbell benching. Small incline and decline angles perform wonders for highlighting stress on the upper and lower pecs.
Changing your grip is a good idea now and then. “The majority of individuals will do OK with a slightly narrow grip,” Rusin says. “On each hand, think about where your grasp is strongest and move it in an inch.” For most males, this is where the knurling (the jagged, criss-cross pattern on the bar) meets the smooth part of the bar.
Every month, according to Rusin, beginners should switch up how they bench. Advanced lifters can switch it up as frequently as once a week.
Best Triceps Exercises
1. Rope Pressdown
It’s the most common triceps exercise, and it’s also one of the most effective. Too many folks, on the other hand, lean over the weight and rock into it while extending their elbows. The upper body’s mass is used to drive the handle down and hoist the weight up, which minimizes triceps activation. This is why Rusin recommends practicing press down while kneeling. He claims that “there is no hip involvement and no momentum.” “Kneeling press downs are substantially more effective at isolating the triceps.” Another piece of advice: don’t just push down. “Drive your fists apart to get a little amount of shoulder extension,” Rusin explains, “which targets the triceps’ long head.”
2. Overhead Triceps Extension
This technique, performed with a band connected to a power rack or from a cable pulley set to head height, maximizes the stretch on the long head of the triceps, which crosses both the shoulder and elbow, making it a critical stabilizer for both joints.
3. Bench Dips
When using a traditional dip station, where the body is suspended between two bars and just the arms provide support, it’s natural to lean forward, emphasizing the pecs and front deltoids. Dipping on a single bench is likewise a bad idea since it puts too much strain on the shoulders. Instead, Rusin suggests putting two flat benches parallel to each other—just far enough away to fit your butt between them—and doing dips with one hand on each bench, feet on the floor, and spine exactly vertical (see the advanced workout below).
“Other dip variations can severely aggravate your shoulders,” adds Rusin, “and it’s very difficult to control spinal position between dip bars because there is no ground contact.” However, when the hands and feet are in continual contact, positive things happen.” That is, all of the tension is concentrated on the triceps. It’s simple enough to install a weight plate right on your lap if you require an external load to boost the difficulty.