Chest shoulders Workout routine
Generally speaking, mass building exercises are those that involve movement at more than one joint and therefore work multiple muscle groups at once. Furthermore, free weights such as dumbbells and barbells are also better for gaining mass because in addition to working the intended large muscles, they also recruit many smaller muscles needed for stabilization.
The majority of the following exercises fit this criteria with the exceptions being a few isolation exercises that I threw in that serve as good finishers to your routine. The following exercises are also bilateral movements (moving both at same time) in order to keep your training short and intense, which provides for a highly effective and efficient mass building strategy. Exercises are listed in order of priority to your fitness program but exercise programming (reps, sets, resistance, frequency, etc.) is not discussed.
Lat-Pulldown and/or Pull-Ups or Assisted Pull-Up Machine - View Exercise
Arch your chest up and bring the bar to the top of your chest (or to your chin on chin-ups) by bringing your elbows back and your scapula together. You can increase the resistance of a chin-up or pull-up by using a weighted belt; forced reps and/or negatives by having a partner assist you at the feet; or negatives by placing a bench beneath your feet.
Bent Over Barbell Row and/or Cable Row and/or T-bar Row - View Exercise 1 / 2 / 3
It's important to note that you should never round your back with these movements, always keep that natural arch in your lower back as well as keep your chest up and out and your torso erect. Bring the bar to your sternum (low chest/upper abdominal region) and squeeze your shoulder blades back and together.
Deadlifts - View Exercise
This is a definite mass and strength builder for the lower back as well as the large muscle groups of the lower body. Think of this movement the same as a squat except you are holding the resistance in front of you below your knees. With arms extended grasp a loaded barbell on the floor in front of you with one hand palm-up and one hand palm-down grip. Keep your chest up and extend your hips so that you come to a standing position (keep your arms straight and extended throughout movement).
Lat-Pulldown Machine - View Exercise
Row Machine - View Exercise
Pullovers (E-Z Curl Bar, Dumbbell, Cable, Machine) - View Exercise
Try this as a finisher on back days for a great burn and pump as well as a nice stretch. In addition to it working your back it also works the long head of the triceps and your chest. I prefer to perform these while on my knees in front of a high pulley cable stack with a rope attachment and bending forward a little bit at the waist in order to fully extend my shoulders.
Lock your elbows in a slightly bent position throughout the movement in order to take tension off the biceps as well as prevent the triceps to push down. You can also achieve this full shoulder ROM (range of motion) by lying on your back on a bench or stability ball. I prefer cables for this movement because it allows for continuous tension throughout the entire ROM which really fatigues the muscles and serves as a good finisher to my back workout.
Shrugs (Barbell or Dumbbell) - View Exercise
This is a must if you are looking to isolate the upper trapezius only. Never roll your shoulders - straight up and down. Keep your elbows locked in a slightly bent position throughout the movement. You should hold the full contraction at the top for a 1 count. I prefer dumbbells because it allows for a greater range of motion and also because DB's don't catch against my thighs as barbells do. But use barbells for variety.
- Keep in mind that using a neutral grip and keeping your elbows inward and by your sides during rowing exercises places more emphasis on your back muscles. By simply changing your grip to an overhand one with a wider grip (flaring your elbows outward so that they are inline with your shoulders and your elbows form a 90 degree angle) you will be placing added emphasis to your posterior deltoid head. Using an underhand grip will place added emphasis on the biceps and on the lower portion of your lats.
- Training back is difficult for many, especially beginners and novices, because you cant see the muscles working, therefore it is imperative that you build that mind/muscle connection with this muscle group and focus on feel by squeezing for a full contraction with a 1-2 count.
- On all pulling movements it helps to visualize your arms and hands simply as pulleys and your back doing all the work.
- I never recommend beginners perform pull-ups or lat-pulldowns behind the neck, because if done improperly it can cause injury to your cervical spine or rotator cuff. Even after the movement is mastered, lighter resistance and higher repetitions should be used and focus should be on form and feel.
Flat Bench Press (Barbell or Dumbbell) - View Exercise
A wide grip should be used - a rule of thumb is to place an empty bar on your chest and form a 90 degree angle with your elbows (upper arms parallel to floor and forearms perpendicular to floor) in order to mark your optimal grip width. Your elbows should be flared out so that they are inline with the shoulders. Your lower back should not arch - it should remain against the bench.
Incline Bench Press (Barbell or Dumbbell) - View Exercise
Dips (weighted if necessary) or Assisted Dip - View Exercise
Use a forward tilt and point your elbows outward as far as possible. Go through the full range of motion. You can use a partner for forced reps and/or negatives, or a bench under your feet for negatives.
Decline Bench Press (Barbell or Dumbbell) - View Exercise
I never suggest that someone perform decline bench presses due to the fact that the lower chest gets worked well with flat bench presses and dips. But, I must include it because it is a great mass builder. Use it for variety. Although you're on a decline, you should still be pressing straight up to the ceiling. Bring the bar down to your sternum on this one in order to avoid unnecessary stress on your shoulders and to allow for greater strength.
Chest Press Machine (flat and/or incline) - View Exercise
Well-designed pressing machines are useful because you don't have to worry about things like balancing the weight or the injury risks that can be associated with free weights. You can simply put all of your focus into pushing as much weight as possible which allows for great overload of the intended muscles but also does not work the smaller muscles used for balance.
Push-Ups (flat and/or incline) - View Exercise
Do incline w/ feet on a bench or platform and hands on the floor. For greater ROM and the incorporation of core stability you can hold onto dumbbells instead of placing your hands on the floor. The push-up exercise basically works all of the same muscles in the same fashion as the chest press and can be used as a good finishing exercise at the end of your routine in order to completely fatigue your muscles and pump some extra blood in there.