Most split routines will have a chest/triceps day and a back/biceps day.
But, there’s one glaring problem with this sort of arrangement: You’re dead tired by the time you’re done with your chest or back exercises. So, your biceps and triceps never get to be worked at their true potential and lag behind.
Well, perhaps it’s time to lump both chest and back into one beginner workout!
Table of Contents
- About the Creator – Steve Shaw
- What is the 8 Week Chest And Back Specialization Workout Routine?
- 8 Week Chest And Back Specialization Workout Routine Details
- Workout Routine Pros
- The Cons of This Routine
- Can You Do Chest and Back Same Day Twice a Week?
- Chest and Back Superset Workout
- 8 Week Chest And Back Specialization Workout Routine Conclusion
About the Creator – Steve Shaw
This specific routine we’re about to go over was designed by Steve Shaw.
Then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve attempted one of Shaw’s routines along your journey at some point. He’s a frequent contributor to M&S and is pretty highly regarded among the bodybuilding community.
Okay, who is this guy?
Steve Shaw has spent over 30 years in the gym maxing out his body’s potential. And, here’s a look at this best lifts to date to prove he’s the real deal:
- Squat: 602.5 pounds
- Deadlift: 672.5 pounds
- Bench Press: 382.5 pounds
In addition to getting absolutely ripped at the gym, Shaw shared his mass-building knowledge on his YouTube channel, Massive Iron.
What is the 8 Week Chest And Back Specialization Workout Routine?
Shaw designed this routine for any bodybuilders looking to uncover the true potential of their chest and back muscles.
So, here’s everything you need to know about this routine.
- It lasts for 8 weeks, but you can add on an extra 4 weeks if you’re still seeing gains.
- There are two different workouts, each with 20 to 30 sets each.
- Workouts last fewer than 60 minutes.
- Add a shoulder/arms workout on Saturdays and a leg workout on Fridays.
- You need barbells, dumbbells, and basic upper body machines.
This routine is designed specifically to boost upper body gains in beginners. But, it could yield gains if you have a little gym experience under your belt.
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8 Week Chest And Back Specialization Workout Routine Details
What we’re about to go over are the actual chest/back workouts of this routine.
The first chest/back workout of the week (Monday) is focused on heavy free weight exercises while the second workout (Thursdays) centers around machines and rest-pause sets.
Let’s take a look at what this routine entails.
Monday – Back & Chest Day #1
- Deadlift – 3 sets x 3 reps (90 seconds)
- Bench Press – 3 sets x 5 reps (90 seconds)
- Pendlay Rows – 3 sets x 8-10 reps (90 seconds)
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets x 8-10 reps (90 seconds)
- One Arm Dumbbell Row – 2 sets x 20-25 reps (90 seconds)
- Dip – 3 sets x AMAP reps (90 seconds)
- Barbell Shrug – 3 sets x 12-15 reps (90 seconds)
Heavy deadlift triples can be really taxing on your central nervous system if you’re not prepared. Think about strapping on a weightlifting belt that secures with velcro, a lever, or some other strong buckle for the best leverage.
Thursday – Back & Chest Day #2
- Pull-Up or Inverted Row – 6 sets x AMAP reps (30 seconds)
- Machine Chest Press – 6 sets x 8-12 reps (30 seconds)
- Lat Pulldown – 6 sets x 8-12 reps (30 seconds)
- Dumbbell Fly or Pec Dec – 6 sets x 8-12 reps (30 seconds)
- Dumbbell Shrug – 6 sets x 10 reps (30 seconds)
Workout Routine Pros
Okay, let’s go over what the benefits of this routine are:
- Plateaus Less Likely: This all comes down to the variations in exercises, rest periods, and intensity across the two workouts. Your upper body muscles will always be challenged and surprised, which means you may be able to stick to this routine for 3 months or longer while still seeing gains.
- Alternating Between Chest & Back: Luckily, this routine is designed in a way where you don’t have to choose between back gains or chest gains. Since you’re alternating between chest and back exercises, you can help to prevent targeting one more than the other and avoid muscle imbalance.
The Cons of This Routine
Unfortunately, this routine does have a few downsides you’ll need to consider, like:
- Rest-Pause Sets: Rest-pause sets are a good idea in theory, but they can be extremely draining and hard on your muscles. One or two rest-pause sets in total to finish out a workout is okay, but 30 rest-pause sets once a week might be overwhelming and do more harm than good.
- What About Leg Day?: Okay, this routine does technically have a leg day. But, the fact that you’re spending 3 out of 4 of your workouts on your upper body and just one on your lower body (which accounts for half of your body) is a bit ridiculous. There’s not much logic behind 72 upper body sets vs. 21 lower body sets each week.
Can You Do Chest and Back Same Day Twice a Week?
Well, that depends.
The first question you have to ask yourself is whether you plan to hit your biceps, triceps, and deltoids separately during the week. If so, then this isn’t a great idea.
Remember, most chest exercises will also use triceps while back exercises utilize the biceps. So, you’re going to have to plan out 2-3 days of rest between workouts every time you plan to hit your upper body muscles.
Not giving each muscle the appropriate time to rest puts you at risk for overtraining.
But, this could be a solid idea if you’re only looking to focus on compound lifts during your first few months of training. Work on building your strength before switching to more of a split routine.
Chest and Back Superset Workout
If you insist on doing chest and back on the same day, a superset workout is your best bet. In fact, that’s exactly what the legend Arnold Schwarzenegger did when he was in his prime.
Here’s a look at what that routine was like.
- Superset 1: Bench Press (5 x 8-10) & Wide Grip Pulldown (5 x Failure)
- Superset 2: Incline Bench Press (5 x 8-10) & T-Bar Row (8 x 10)
- Superset 3: Dumbbell Fly (5 x 10) & Seated Cable Row (5 x 10)
- Superset 4: Dip (5 x 10) & Close Grip Pulldown (5 x 12-15)
- Superset 5: Dumbbell Pullover (5 x 12) & Cable Crossover (5 x 12-15)
Just keep in mind that supersets call for very little rest in between sets and tend to be extremely draining. This is not a routine for the faint of heart and this workout will be very short.
8 Week Chest And Back Specialization Workout Routine Conclusion
This 8-week routine is a good idea if you really want to light the fire in your chest and back. The two different types of workouts (high-intensity and rest-pause) will help to hold off that dreaded plateau for at least 8 to 12 weeks.
But, the downsides might be a little overwhelming.
Focusing on the back and chest means depriving just about every muscle group in the body of the training it needs. It’s a little silly to leave muscles like the biceps, triceps, and deltoids on the back burner when those muscles are very important in chest/back exercises as well.
Overall, this is a good workout if you’re in a slump, but not a great long-term solution.
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