My focus is on home workouts, which assumes the availability of certain pieces of equipment or familiarity with bodyweight movements. In addition to bodyweight exercises, there may be resistance cords or dumbbells in play. Some may even have benches and racks suitable for heavy bench pressing, but this is less likely than having smaller and less cumbersome equipment.
So, my goal is to present options for movements without heavy barbells and power equipment found in gyms.
I will also indicate how to obtain certain pieces of equipment that are useful for such specialization in home workouts.
CHEST / TRICEPS SPECIALIZATION
Reasons for specializing on certain muscles or muscle groups include the following:
- To bring up weaker muscles to the same level as others
- To prevent boredom
- To add variety
- To provide a special “pump” to specific muscles or muscle groups.
(Note the triceps development shown in the picture below)
The chest and triceps should not be worked separately and are thus very likely to be paired when specializing. This is because each muscle group responds to similar movements.
For example, push – ups work both the chest and triceps, as do bench presses.
It is very important to work specific chest movements before those for the triceps. Otherwise, the triceps would become exhausted before sufficient chest work could take place. An exception to this would be lying lateral raises for the chest (or similar exercises), which do not engage the triceps muscles.
The pectoralis major muscles extend from the shoulder to the breastbone on each side. These muscles:
- Flex the arm at the shoulder
- Extend the arm at the shoulder
- Medially rotate the arm at the shoulder
- Adduct the arm at the shoulder
Or triceps brachii (Latin for three headed muscle of the arm) is a large muscle on the back of the upper arm. The triceps muscle extends the elbow joint and straightens the arm.
The flexing of the biceps muscle is well known as a means to show off muscular development. This is a classic response to a request to “show me your muscle”. Some may not realize that the triceps is actually much larger than the biceps and is roughly 2/3 the girth of your upper arm.
RESISTANCE CORDS may be anchored at a door. Face away from the door and pull the cords to the front of your chest until they meet. Then repeat for 10-20 repetitions, depending on the “weight” of the cords and your level of strength.
Here is a complete set of cords from Amazon.
DUMBBELLS may be used while reclining on a bench, an ottoman or an exercise ball (which I use). From that prone position, raise your bent arms up until they meet above your chest. Another variation is to raise both dumbbells straight upward from your sides, in the manner of a bench press. Try for 8 – 12 repetitions.
PUSH – UPS are ideal for chest development. Do them slowly and with correct form (see my prior article of June 24, 2019).
A great way to make push – ups more difficult and thus more productive is to employ the Power Press, which presents the possibility of using a variety of hand positions so you may isolate specific muscles. Dipping is lower because of the handles and points of insertion. I use this device and have found it to be very satisfactory.
The illustration below shows the basic push – up.
BULLWORKER chest compressions directly work the pectorals as well as anything I have tried. You are pushing together two sides of a weighted cylinder in front of your chest. There is also the opportunity to turn this into an isometric exercise by holding the position of muscle stress for 10 – 20 seconds at the beginning or end. Some use this device only for the isometric benefit. Others combine isometrics with isotonics.
RESISTANCE CORDS may be used in two ways:
- By anchoring the cords at a door, then facing the door, pull back both handles at waist level by straightening your arms as you pull backward.
- By stepping on the middle of the cords while standing. Then raise the handles to shoulder level with bent arms at the elbows. Then straighten both arms overhead against the resistance.
DUMBBELLS provide resistance as arms are straightened from the elbow joint. This can be done while sitting, while standing, while lying on a bench, with separate dumbbells in each hand or with one heavier dumbbell held by both hands. The dumbbell “kickback” is a movement wherein you are bent over with dumbbells in each hand with elbows bent. You then extend your hands backward against the resistance of the dumbbell weight in each hand. This can also be done with one dumbbell at a time.
The “kickback” exercise is shown immediately below.
Here is the seated triceps motion, width one dumbbell held by both hands.
PUSH – UPS work the triceps along with the chest muscles, as described above. A close hand position may better activate the triceps, while a shoulder width or wider hand position may be better for the pectorals. The same would apply when the Power Press is used, but it becomes simpler since the hand positions are clearly designated throughout.
THE BULLWORKER STEEL BOW provide a means to push the cylinder down against resistance while sitting in a hard chair. The amount of resistance may be regulated by changing the inner spring to a greater or lesser amount of “poundage”.
PLANNING A SPECIALIZED CHEST / TRICEPS ROUTINE
Will depend upon several factors:
- The equipment you have at home
- Your level of current strength
- Your goals
Since you will be temporarily departing from a full body workout, you will be doing more chest and triceps sets than before. If you were doing 20 total full body sets, you will want to continue with 20 – 10 each for chest and triceps.
Again, please realize the importance of working chest first, then triceps. Chest exercises are more in the category of compound movements, those that work more than one muscle group. Triceps work is much more specific.
If you have no equipment at all, you can do 20 sets (or the number of sets in your full body routine) of push – ups, varying the hand width.
With resistance tubes, you may easily do a like number of chest sets and triceps sets.
The same is true for dumbbells and for the Bullworker.
But it would be preferable to vary the means of resistance if you have the necessary equipment. This would give you different types of resistance and a more diverse, less tedious routine.
So….plan your workout based on your needs. Don’t continue indefinitely with such a specialized program. Get back to a basic full body routine after you meet your goals. Later, you can consider specializing with attention to different muscle groups.
There are many home workout routines to try out. A little knowledge and a little equipment is all that is needed. I personally enjoy setting up home programs and then changing them periodically.
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