Pair your chest and back sessions for a time-saving, challenging workout.
The chest and upper-back muscles are antagonistic, meaning while one is working, the other is resting. Combining your chest work with exercises for the rhomboids, lats and mid-traps of your upper back is one way you can cut down your workout time without lowering intensity. While your chest gets a break, your upper back works and vice versa. Keep an even balance of exercises between the two groups and mix up your rep ranges for a strength and muscle-building upper-body workout.
Simply the Chest
Basic compound moves, such as presses are dips, are the most economical way to work your chest as they hit all the muscle fibers and allow you to lift the most weight. Trainer Barry Lumsden recommends performing the majority of your presses on an incline, as this focuses on the upper pecs -- an under-developed area for most men. A 30-degree incline on pressing movements will suffice.
Back to Basics
Multi-joint compound moves are also the most effective way to train your upper back. The upper back actually works in two planes -- horizontally and vertically -- and you should include exercises for each. Make lat pull-downs your go-to vertical exercise, or if you're strong enough, switch these for chin-ups. The Men's Fitness website advises switching between different chin-up variations, such as close-grip, weighted, negatives -- where you perform the downward movement as slowly as possible -- and pull-ups holding a towel. For your horizontal moves, any machine, cable, barbell or dumbbell row will do the trick.
One of the beauties about training your chest and upper back in the same session is that you can superset exercises by performing a chest move and then a back move with minimal rest in between. This isn't a necessity, but it can give your motivation a boost, save time and increase intensity, notes trainer and fitness model Greg Merritt.
Real Results Routine
Perform all your sets in the five to 15 repetition range. The lower end of this spectrum is optimal for strength gains, and the higher you go, the more you're training for muscular endurance. Somewhere in the middle is best for muscle growth. A sample session that hits all three goals could be doing five sets of six reps on bench presses and weighted chin-ups, followed by four sets of eight to 10 incline dumbbell presses and barbell rows, and then finishing with dips and seated cable rows, both for two to three sets of 12 to 15.