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Should you do chest and triceps or chest and biceps?

Learn whether you should do chest and triceps or chest and biceps for maximum muscle growth.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd May 2022
A weight lifter demonstrating that you can do chest and triceps or chest and biceps

Deciding whether to do chest and triceps or chest and biceps is a big decision that can affect the rest of your training program—one that’s complicated by the fact that there’s no right or wrong choice.

This guide explains the pros and cons of doing chest and triceps vs chest and biceps so that you can see which option fits best with your schedule and training goals.

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Should you do chest and triceps or chest and biceps?

A man demonstrating that you can do either chest and biceps or chest and triceps

Should you do chest and triceps or chest and biceps for the best results? It depends on the rest of your training program, but in general, training chest and triceps together is your best bet because there’s a big overlap between chest and tricep exercises.

For example, when you’re working your chest with the bench press, your triceps are highly active regardless of whether you intend to train them or not. For this reason, it often makes sense to do some tricep isolation exercises (overhead extensions, pushdowns, etc.) after your heavy compound presses.

On the other hand, when you do chest and biceps, there’s no interference between the muscle groups, meaning that you can train your biceps in a more or less completely unfatigued state.

Yet, as I just noted, whenever you do a bench press, you are training triceps—and your front delts, for that matter. So even if you think you’re only doing chest and biceps, you’re actually training your chest, biceps, triceps, and anterior deltoids.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of training chest and triceps together?

A weight lifter showing that you can do either chest and bis or chest and tris

The main benefit of training your chest and triceps together is that it enables you to construct a logical training split that allows for plenty of recovery. What I mean by this is that it’s a good idea to train similar muscles in the same session.

So, as mentioned, since every kind of bench press works your triceps, it just makes sense to work your chest and triceps together in the same session. You can also train your front delts as well since, like the chest and triceps, your anterior deltoids are a pushing muscle and one that’s highly active during any kind of compound press.

Of course, you could argue that because your triceps won’t be 100% fresh after training your chest, you should train them in a separate session.

To this, I would simply say that you are working your triceps when you train your pecs, so you may as well just finish them off with some lighter isolation exercises after your heavy presses.

What are the pros and cons of working chest and biceps together?

A man wondering whether he should train his chest with triceps or biceps

The main benefit of doing a chest and bicep workout, in some people’s minds, is that there’s no interference between the muscles or exercises.

Sure, the biceps play a stabilization role during the bench press, but this role isn’t enough to fatigue them, meaning that you’ll be able to do your curls with all of your strength still intact.

The main downside of doing chest and biceps vs chest and triceps is that you may actually be leaving your triceps understimulated. Since the bench press already works your triceps pretty well, why not finish the job by doing some kind of tricep extension afterward? It just makes sense if you ask me.

The verdict: Should you do chest and biceps or chest and triceps?

A man showing that you can do chest and tris or chest and bis

So, for maximizing your results, should you do chest and biceps or chest and triceps?

Ultimately, you can make great gains doing chest and biceps or chest and triceps. But if I had to choose one option, it would definitely be chest and tris for the simple fact that, given the large overlap between the chest and triceps on exercises like the bench press, it just makes sense to train them together.

For best results, I actually recommend working your front delts with your chest and triceps so that you can work all of your pushing muscles in one convenient session.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing chest and biceps; it’s just that I think a chest and triceps session makes more sense given the overlap.

References

  1. Davies, D., & Cooper, E. (2022, April 7). The Chest Exercises and Workouts You Need to Build Bigger Pecs. Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/building-muscle/a759235/best-chest-exercises-for-building-muscle/
  2. Kippel, J., & Blackstien, M. (2019, January 23). Training For Triumphant Triceps: Sample Exercises! Bodybuilding.Com. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/wnso27.htm
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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