Most split routines will have a chest/triceps day and a back/biceps day.
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But, there’s one glaring problem with this sort of arrangement: You’re dead tired by the time you’re done with your chest or back exercises. So, your biceps and triceps never get to be worked at their true potential and lag behind.
Well, perhaps it’s time to lump both chest and back into one beginner workout!
About the Creator – Steve Shaw
This specific routine we’re about to go over was designed by Steve Shaw.
Then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve attempted one of Shaw’s routines along your journey at some point. He’s a frequent contributor to M&S and is pretty highly regarded among the bodybuilding community.
Okay, who is this guy?
Steve Shaw has spent over 30 years in the gym maxing out his body’s potential. And, here’s a look at this best lifts to date to prove he’s the real deal:
- Squat: 602.5 pounds
- Deadlift: 672.5 pounds
- Bench Press: 382.5 pounds
In addition to getting absolutely ripped at the gym, Shaw shared his mass-building knowledge on his YouTube channel, Massive Iron.
What is the 8 Week Chest And Back Specialization Workout Routine?
Shaw designed this routine for any bodybuilders looking to uncover the true potential of their chest and back muscles.
This isn’t your standard V Shred program.
So, here’s everything you need to know about this routine.
- It lasts for 8 weeks, but you can add on an extra 4 weeks if you’re still seeing gains.
- There are two different workouts, each with 20 to 30 sets each.
- Workouts last fewer than 60 minutes.
- Add a shoulder/arms workout on Saturdays and a leg workout on Fridays.
- You need barbells, dumbbells, and basic upper body machines.
This routine is designed specifically to boost upper body gains in beginners. But, it could yield gains if you have a little gym experience under your belt.
Chest And Back Workout Details
What we’re about to go over are the actual chest/back workouts of this routine.
The first chest/back workout of the week (Monday) is focused on heavy free weight exercises while the second workout (Thursdays) centers around machines and rest-pause sets.
Let’s take a look at what this routine entails.
Monday – Back & Chest Day #1
- Deadlift – 3 sets x 3 reps (90 seconds)
- Bench Press – 3 sets x 5 reps (90 seconds)
- Pendlay Rows – 3 sets x 8-10 reps (90 seconds)
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets x 8-10 reps (90 seconds)
- One Arm Dumbbell Row – 2 sets x 20-25 reps (90 seconds)
- Dip – 3 sets x AMAP reps (90 seconds)
- Barbell Shrug – 3 sets x 12-15 reps (90 seconds)
Thursday – Back & Chest Day #2
- Pull-Up or Inverted Row – 6 sets x AMAP reps (30 seconds)
- Machine Chest Press – 6 sets x 8-12 reps (30 seconds)
- Lat Pulldown – 6 sets x 8-12 reps (30 seconds)
- Dumbbell Fly or Pec Dec – 6 sets x 8-12 reps (30 seconds)
- Dumbbell Shrug – 6 sets x 10 reps (30 seconds)
Pros and Cons of This Specialization Workout
Okay, let’s go over what the benefits of this routine are:
- Plateaus Less Likely: This all comes down to the variations in exercises, rest periods, and intensity across the two workouts. Your upper body muscles will always be challenged and surprised, which means you may be able to stick to this routine for 3 months or longer while still seeing gains.
- Alternating Between Chest & Back: Luckily, this routine is designed in a way where you don’t have to choose between back gains or chest gains. Since you’re alternating between chest and back exercises, you can help to prevent targeting one more than the other and avoid muscle imbalance.
Unfortunately, this routine does have a few downsides you’ll need to consider, like:
- Rest-Pause Sets: Rest-pause sets are a good idea in theory, but they can be extremely draining and hard on your muscles. One or two rest-pause sets in total to finish out a workout is okay, but 30 rest-pause sets once a week might be overwhelming and do more harm than good.
- What About Leg Day?: Okay, this routine does technically have a leg day. But, the fact that you’re spending 3 out of 4 of your workouts on your upper body and just one on your lower body (which accounts for half of your body) is a bit ridiculous. There’s not much logic behind 72 upper body sets vs. 21 lower body sets each week.
Can You Workout Chest and Back on the Same Day Twice a Week?
Well, that depends.
The first question you have to ask yourself is – Do you plan to hit your biceps, triceps, and deltoids separately during the week? If so, then this isn’t a great idea.
Remember, most chest exercises will also use triceps while back exercises utilize the biceps. So, you’re going to have to plan out 2-3 days of rest between workouts every time you plan to hit your upper body muscles.
Not giving each muscle the appropriate time to rest puts you at risk for overtraining.
But, this could be a solid idea if you’re only looking to focus on compound lifts during your first few months of training. Work on building your strength before switching to more of a split routine.
Chest and Back Superset Workout
If you insist on doing chest and back on the same day, a superset workout is your best bet. In fact, that’s exactly what the legend Arnold Schwarzenegger did when he was in his prime.
Here’s a look at what that routine was like.
- Superset 1: Bench Press (5 x 8-10) & Wide Grip Pulldown (5 x Failure)
- Superset 2: Incline Bench Press (5 x 8-10) & T-Bar Row (8 x 10)
- Superset 3: Dumbbell Fly (5 x 10) & Seated Cable Row (5 x 10)
- Superset 4: Dip (5 x 10) & Close Grip Pulldown (5 x 12-15)
- Superset 5: Dumbbell Pullover (5 x 12) & Cable Crossover (5 x 12-15)
Just keep in mind that supersets call for very little rest in between sets and tend to be extremely draining. This is not a routine for the faint of heart and this workout will be very short.
Best Chest And Back Exercises For a Same Day Workout
Although we mentioned some exercises earlier, this guide wouldn’t be complete without our picks on some of the best chest and back exercises you can do on the same day.
Best Chest Exercises
Some of the best chest exercises to build muscle and strength include:
- Bench press
- Dumbbell flyes
- Cable crossovers
- Incline push-ups
Best Back Exercises
These back movements make a great combination to the chest exercises above:
- Lat pull-down
- Single-arm dumbbell row
- Back extension
What To Consider When Training Chest And Back On The Same Day
You’ll need to be aware of any relative weaknesses in your chest and back muscles. If your back is relatively weaker than your chest, then you may want to start with back exercises or visa versa.
How Long You Have to Train
Depending on how much training time you have, you may not be able to train either one of them (chest or back) as much as you’d like to in a single session. If time is limited, either focus on compound movements for both or put emphasis on one muscle group and save emphasis for the other group on a different day.
Type of Training
For example, if you’re doing an upper/lower body split, then it’s reasonable to combine chest and back (upper-body exercises) on a day dedicated to upper-body training. But for a 5-6 day body-part split, doing too much in one session can lead to serious DOMS and overtraining.
How Often You Train
Depending on how many training days you have in a week, you may design your routine differently and decide to work your chest and back on the same day, then leave out your chest or back on another training day. Training 3-4 days per week is the sweet spot. If you train more often, hitting chest and back on the same day will be really taxing on your body and may be difficult to recover from.
This 8-week routine is a good idea if you really want to light the fire in your chest and back. The two different types of workouts (high-intensity and rest-pause) will help to hold off that dreaded plateau for at least 8 to 12 weeks.
But, the downsides might be a little overwhelming.
Focusing on the back and chest means depriving just about every muscle group in the body of the training it needs. It’s a little silly to leave muscles like the biceps, triceps, and deltoids on the back burner when those muscles are very important in chest/back exercises as well.
Overall, this is a good workout if you’re in a slump, but not a great long-term solution.
Chest And Back Workout Same Day FAQs
Is It Okay to Train Chest and Back on the same day?
Yes, it’s perfectly okay to train your chest and back on the same day, and it’s common in different training routines. But ensure you don’t train your chest or back to failure before hitting the other, so you can still get an effective workout.