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September 5, 2020

Best Chest and Tricep Workout for Women

Working the chest muscles allows a woman to lift and shape the bust area. It also helps to develop that athletic, toned, streamlined look to the upper body. Combining this locker with well-developed and toned triceps allows any woman to look fantastic in an outfit that puts her arms on display. In this article, we present you with a super effective chest and tricep workout for women that will allow you to achieve attention grabbing chest and triceps development.

Chest and Triceps Anatomy

Doing your chest and tricep workouts together makes a lot of sense. That’s because the triceps are involved in every exercise you do for the chest. So, when you work your chest first, you give your triceps a good warm up.  It also doesn’t make sense to work them on different days because the fatigue from your previous work out will affect your performance.

The scientific name for your chest is the pectoralis. It is divided into the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major is a fan shaped muscle that covers the top third of the front of your torso. It is made up of three groups of fibers that run in specific directions. All of the fibers of the pectoralis major insert on the upper part of the humerus (upper arm bone).

The pectoralis minor is a small muscle that lies beneath the pec major. It is not attached to the humerus, so that it is not affected by any exercises that involve movement of the arms. Its job is to stabilize the shoulder blade. This muscle does not have any capacity for growth and so does not need to be worried about.

The triceps is situated at the back of the upper arm. It is a single muscle that has three insertion points, or heads. The job of the triceps is to extend the elbow, thereby increasing the angle of the elbow joint. Contrary to what many people believe, it is not possible to work any of the three heads of the triceps separately. When you bend your elbows and then extend, all three of them work together – that is because they all have the same insertion point.

Best Exercises for the Chest and Triceps

Decline Dumbbell Chest Press

When we consider the biomechanics of the chest and triceps, we find that many of the accepted exercises such as the standard barbell or dumbbell bench press and the dumbbell fly are not ideal.

The most effective exercise for the chest for women is the decline dumbbell chest press. Set the decline of the bench to around 20°. This will provide the ideal angle to follow the natural direction of the fibers in your chest muscle. Get on the bench with a pair of dumbbells in each hand and your arms extended above your lower chest. Now breathe in as you slowly lower the dumbbells in each hand down. Keep your core engaged. In the bottom position, your upper arms should be parallel to the floor with a 90° angle at the elbow. Feel the squeeze in your chest and then extend your arms back up to push the weights and bring the dumbbells together to return to the starting position and repeat.

How to do the decline dumbbell chest press

Triceps Pushdown (Cable at Rear)

The best triceps exercises involve having your upper arms at your sides or very close to your sides. That is because this puts the triceps and the ideal anatomical position for their natural movement. The best exercise to work the triceps is the triceps push down. However, the traditional way of doing the exercise, where you have the cable resistance in front of you, is not ideal. A far better direction of resistance is achieved when the resistance is behind you. That will take the posterior deltoids and the lats out of the movement and put all of the emphasis on the triceps.

To achieve this optimized position when you perform the triceps pushdown exercise, use a cable machine that allows you to stand with your back to the machine, facing away from it as you perform the exercise. Many gyms will have this cable set-up, with a back pad for you to stand against. Note that this is a harder version of the exercise than if you were standing facing the machine, so you will have to lower the weight that you use. Be sure to keep your elbows pinned to your sides throughout the entire movement and do not allow momentum to help you get the weight up or down.

How to to the tricep pushdown cable at rear

Note: If you do not have access go a gym, you can do these exercises with resistance bands. Resistance bands are a great alternative.

Sets and Reps

In this chest and tricep workout for women, you will be performing in just one exercise for each body part. However, you will be doing 12 sets on each of those exercises. That should take you around 30 minutes per body part, providing that you allow yourselves about a minute and a half to rest between sets.

With this workout you will be following a wide rep range to completely work the muscle. Here is what it will look like:

set one – 30 reps

step two – 20 reps

set three – 15 reps

set four – 10 reps

set five – 10 reps

set a six – eight reps

set seven – eight reps

set eight – six reps

set nine – six reps

set 10 – four reps

set 11 – four reps

set 12 – 30 reps

With each succeeding set, make it your goal to increase the weight slightly. Then, on the sets where you are doing the same number of reps, use the same weight on both sets. When you get to the final set of 30 reps, use a weight that is slightly lighter than the one you used for your first set of 30.

The Workout

Exercise One: Decline dumbbell press: 12 x 30/20/15/10/10/8/8/6/6/4/4/30

Exercise Two: Triceps push down (cable at rear): 12 x 30/20/15/10/10/8/8/6/6/4/4/30

Wrap Up

This chest and tricep workout for women is an extremely taxing one but one that will produce great results. Our pro tip would be to stick with this workout six weeks, performing the workout every five days to get the most out of it.

On your other workout days, split your upper body so that you are training your back and biceps on one day and your legs and shoulders on the other. Work hard, be consistent and strive to progressively use heavier weights that you are lifting to build muscles and you will be well on your way to achieving toned and sculpted chest and triceps muscles. 

There are many chest and triceps exercises that you include as part of your workout routine for women ( triceps pushups, overhead presses, triceps dips, chest fly, triceps kickbacks, dumbbell pullover, overhead extensions and so on), some are a great workout at home. However, we given you the what we think is best.

Always remember to aim for a total body workout overall, both lower body and upper body workouts, to achieve a great physique overall.  

Read more “Best Fat Burning Supplements for Women

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Steve (Qualfied Personal Trainer and Nutritionist)


Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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