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Power Building: Chest and Back

by Dylan Falduto

In my recent article, “Power Building for Serious Strength and Size Gains,” I shared my favorite template for building lean muscle and increasing power and strength.

power_building_chest_and_back_imageOne of my favorite workouts to follow under this template is a chest and back split routine. There are many advantages to working more than one muscle group in a single session, and this is one of my personal favorite pairings.

Utilizing multiple body parts in one training session demands a high hormonal output from the body, and this prompts an ideal anabolic state for growth.

Another advantage to training two muscles in one session is the time it saves. If you are unable to adequately hit both of these muscles throughout the week, following this routine will be a great means of doing so, and give you a killer pump in the process. Even if you do have the time and routinely isolate each of these muscle groups, it is always good to periodically mix up your routine and shock your muscles into new growth. I personally adjust my routine every several weeks to keep my goals fresh and my motivation high.

More advanced lifters can also use this split more than once a week, and really increase growth—Arnold was a huge proponent of this. However, I would personally advise most people to train each muscle once a week whether paired or isolated. But like I say every time, do what works best for you!

The Routine:

Following the template laid out in my Power Building overview, this routine is started by performing a compound power movement, followed by a compound strength movement, and from there the fast-paced, high-intensity realm of super-setting.


Standard Barbell Bench Press:

3–5 Repetitions for a total of Five Sets. Resting 1–3 minutes between each set.

bench_press_muscle_building_imageThe most revered and talked about lift of all time, and for good reason. Bench-pressing builds immense power and size in the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Beyond that, it is a great base for overall upper-body strength. While perhaps over-glorified by the “mega bros” out there as the only lift that matters, these fools should not detract you from incorporating this excellent lift into your routine, and reaping the many benefits it offers.

There are a multitude of variations and approaches to bench-pressing—here the movement is being utilized primarily to build power. While repetitions will increase and rest time will decrease as this workout progresses, it is important to keep in mind that the goal of this particular movement is not hypertrophy or an improvement in endurance—it is building raw power. So take your time between sets on the bench and focus on safely putting up as much weight as possible for 35 repetitions.


Standard, Medium Width Pull-Ups:

6–12 Repetitions for a total of Three Sets. Resting 1–2 minutes between each set.

Pull-ups are one of the most functional lifts out there and true measures of real strength. Pull-ups build size in both the upper and lower back—targeting the latissumus dori majors as well as the trapezius, shoulders, and biceps.

There are many variations of pull-ups, and chin ups. Here I am advocating the standard, pronated grip—palms facing away. Many lifters mix their grip between sets, and this can be beneficial for hitting muscles in various angles, and shifting the focus of the lift.

Make sure your chin is rising above the bar on each and every repetition and that you are making a complete descent before rising back up. No Cheating!!!

If you are unable to complete the set amount of repetitions on your own, have a partner assist you past your sticking points by “boosting” you up, or go to failure with your own weight, and then use an assistance machine for the additional repetitions. Conversely, if you are an advanced lifter and this is too easy, acquire a lifting belt, and add weight as needed.

Like the power-bench set, I recommend a fair amount of rest between each set to maximize repetitions and technique, but at this point resting time should begin to decrease.

Chest and Back Super-Setting:

Now the fun really begins, and the hypertrophy portion of the workout becomes central. If you are unfamiliar with what a super-set is, refer to my previous article where a full explanation is given.

For every Super Set, perform 1012 repetitions of each movement, back to back, for a total of 3 sets. Rest one minute between each Super Set, and as needed while setting up and recovering between the multiple super-sets laid out below.

Super Set #1—

Incline Bench Press S.S. with Bent-Over Rows:

power_building_bench_press_imageIncline Bench Press:

A variation on the standard bench press, this movement prompts more direct use of the upper chest, and places less of an emphasis on the outer-chest and rear deltoids. This is an excellent lift for developing a thick, dense chest.

Bent-Over Rows:

One of the best exercises for increasing back size and definition. This movement can be done by utilizing a free-weight barbell, or by using a “T-Bar” already set up in a gym. I personally use both depending on what is available, and what I feeling like mixing in that given day.

Super Set #2—

Lat-Pull Downs S.S. with Incline Pec Flys.

Lat-Pull Downs:

An excellent exercise for back development. I advocate proper technique, and not the craziest amount of weight. The bar should always be coming down to your chest, and you should be making a full range of motion. If this is not happening, decrease the weight and check that ego!

Incline Pec Flys:

A great exercise for really isolating and smoking the chest. Perform this exercise in very slow, deliberate movements, and fully extend! If done properly, you will most certainly feel a burn throughout each and every repetition.

Super Set #3—

Pec-Deck Fly’s S.S. with Rear Delt Deck Fly’s

Pec-Deck Fly’s:

Like the Incline Pec Flys, this machine variation is an excellent way to isolate and really smoke the chest.

Rear Delt Deck Fly’s:

A great movement for targeting the traps and upper-back areas often neglected in routines. Technique is vital to this movement, and it is very important to place the emphasis on the traps and upper-back, not just the deltoids. Visualize the center of your upper-back contracting as you execute the movement.

Super Set #4—

Weighted Crunches S.S with Weighted Obligue Bends.

A great way to continue the burn of the previous three super-sets, and isolate the core to conclude the workout.


This workout will surely give you the most bang for your buck—prompting maximal growth and pushing your endurance from start to finish. If you are pressed for time throughout the week this is an excellent way to compound your workload and stay ahead of the game.

Train hard and live well!

Bench Press Photo Credit: Roberto Trm via Compfight cc1st Weights Photo Credit: ericmcgregor via Compfight cc

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