Chest, Shoulders and Triceps Workout - Crush Your Upper Body

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Chest, Shoulders and Triceps Workout

Woman doing pushups on knees
Woman doing pushups on knees. Chris Cole/Getty Images

This intermediate/advanced chest, shoulders and triceps workout will challenge your upper body with tough tri-sets.  Each tri-set will take you through 3 exercises: A chest exercise, a shoulder exercise and a triceps exercise. 

There's no rest between sets (one muscle group rests while the other works), so this workout moves fast.  This workout will take about 45 minutes depending on your rest periods and how many tri-sets you choose to complete.

Precautions
See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed
Various weighted dumbbells, a barbell, a chair or ball and a resistance band.

How To

  • Begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up of light cardio (walking in place, etc.)
  • Perform the exercises in each tri-set, rest for 30 or more seconds and repeat
  • For a more challenging workout, repeat each tri-set 1-3 times
  • For a lighter workout, complete each tri-set 1 time
  • Choose a weight that allows you to finish the set with good form.  The last rep should be very difficult.

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Tri-Set 1 - Drop Set Pushups

Pushup
Pushups on the Toes. Paige Waehner

Pushups

For these pushups, you'll go through a series of drop-sets.  Go through each set, doing the pushups on your knees or toes and rest briefly in between each set. Do as many sets as you can and don't worry if you can't make it all the way through!

  • Set 1: 16 pushups
  • Set 2: 14 pushups
  • Set 3: 12 pushups
  • Set 4: 10 pushups
  • Set 5: 8 pushups

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1.5 Overhead Presses

Overhead Presses
Paige Waehner

1.5 Overhead Presses
  

Hold heavy weights in both hands with elbows bent, weights next to the ears (like a goal post). 

Press the weights overhead, lower back down and then press the weights half-way up and down.  That's one rep. 

Continue, alternating a full rep with a half rep for 12 total repetitions.

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1.5 Close Grip Bench Presses

Close Grip Bench Press
Paige Waehner

1.5 Close Grip Bench Presses

Lie on a bench or step and hold a heavy barbell just over the rib-cage, hands close together (just inside the shoulders). 

Press the weight up over the ribcage, lower the weight down and then press half-way up.  That's one rep. 

Continue, alternating a full rep with a half rep for 12 total repetitions.

For a harder workout, repeat this Tri-Set.  Otherwise, move on to the next Tri-Set.

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Tri-Set 2 - Bench Presses

Barbell Chest Press
Paige Waehner

Tri-Set 2 Bench Press

Lie on a step, bench or on the floor and hold a heavy barbell a few inches above the chest.  Keeping trunk braced, exhale and push weight up overhead without locking elbows.  Lower the weight until it's just over the chest and repeat for 12 reps.

Feel free to use dumbbells if you don't have a barbell.

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Arnold Presses

Arnold Press
Paige Waehner

Arnold Press

Seated or standing, hold heavy weights with elbows bent, palms facing the chest.  Press the arms up over the head, rotating the palms out. Lower back down, rotating the hands back to starting position and repeat for 12 reps. 

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Skull Crushers

skullcrushers.jpg
Paige Waehner

Skull Crushers

Lie on a bench and hold a medium-heavy barbell in a narrow grip (about shoulder-width apart). Begin with the bar straight up over the chest, palms facing out. Bend the elbows and lower the weight down towards the head, stopping when the elbows are at 90 degrees. Push the weight back up and repeat for 12 reps.

In other words, don't crush your skulls, people.

For a harder workout, repeat this Tri-Set.  Otherwise, move on to the next Tri-Set.

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Tri-Set 3 - Incline Chest Press

Incline Chest Press
Paige Waehner

Incline Chest Press

Lie down on an incline bench or on an inclined step (as shown) and begin with heavy weights in each hand straight up over the chest, palms facing out. Bend the elbows and lower the arms down until the elbows are just below the chest. Press the weights back up without locking the elbows and repeat for 12 reps.

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Reverse Flies

Reverse Fly. Paige Waehner

Reverse Flies

Hold medium-heavy dumbbells and begin seated, bent over with arms hanging down and weights under the knees. Lift the arms out to the sides, up to shoulder level, squeezing shoulder blades together.  Keep the elbows slightly bent and repeat for 12 reps.

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One-Arm Triceps Pushups

One Arm Triceps Pushup
Paige Waehner

One-Arm Triceps Pushups

Lie on your right side with the knees bent and the hips stacked.  Wrap the bottom arm around the waist and place the left hand on the floor in front of you.  Contract the triceps to push the body up and off the floor, straightening the left arm as much as you can without locking the elbow. Lower the body down until the arm brushes the floor and continue for 10 reps before switching sides.

For a harder workout, repeat this Tri-Set.  Otherwise, move on to the next Tri-Set.

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Tri-Set 4 - Incline Fly

Incline Chest Fly
Paige Waehner

Incline Fly

Lie on an incline bench or on an inclined step (as shown) and begin with heavy weights in each hand straight up over the chest, palms facing each other. With a slight bend in the elbows, lower the arms out to the sides until they're at or just below shoulder level. Squeeze the chest to pull the arms back, keeping the bend in the elbows. Imagine that you're hugging a tree. Repeat for 12 reps.

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Incline Front Raise

Incline Front Raise
Paige Waehner

Incline Front Raise

Sit on the ball and roll forward to an incline position holding medium weights.  Keeping the arms straight and palms facing each other, lift the arms up to shoulder level.  Lower down and repeat for 12 reps.

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One-Arm Triceps Extensions

One Arm Triceps Extension
Paige Waehner

One-Arm Triceps Extensions

Lie with the left side on the ball with the bottom knee down for support.  Hold a medium weight in the right hand with the arm straight up, palm facing out.  Bend the elbow and lower the weight behind your head to about 90 degrees.  Squeeze the triceps to straighten the arm and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.

For a harder workout, repeat this Tri-Set.  Otherwise, move on to the next Tri-Set.

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Tri-Set 5 - Chest Press with One Arm Flies

One-Arm Chest Fly
Paige Waehner

Chest Press with One-Arm Flies

Lie on a bench or step and hold heavy weights with arms up over the chest.  Bend the elbows and lower the weights down just past the chest.  Press the arms up and, at the top of the movement, rotate the palms in and lower the right arm out to the side in a chest fly.  Bring the right arm back up, rotate the palms out and do another chest press.  At the top of the movement, rotate the palms in and lower the left arm out to the side in a chest fly.  Continue with the chest press and chest fly (alternating arms for each fly) for a total of 8 reps (one rep includes flies to both sides)

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Clean and Press

Clean and Press
Paige Waehner

Clean & Press

Begin with weights in front of thighs, palms in. Raise the weights up to chest level (almost like an upright row) and in a smooth move, flip elbows down and weights up so that they're over the shoulders. Press the weights up overhead and lower back down, flip the arms back to upright row position and lower. Repeat for 12 reps.

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Triceps Dips

Dips
Paige Waehner

Dips

Sit on a chair or bench and balance on your arms, moving backside in front of the step with legs straight. Bend the elbows and lower down, keeping the shoulders down until elbows are at 90 degrees. Push back up and repeat for 12 reps.

For a harder workout, repeat this Tri-Set.  Otherwise, move on to the next Tri-Set.

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