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Compound Chest and Back Workout

author image Kevin Rail
I am very genuine and magnetic on camera, and have made numerous videos on my own for clients and other organizations that I'm affiliated with. I also have a degree in Sport Management, and multiple certifications to back up my validity. I've also been featured in three different exercise infomercials and had a speaking role in a National Lampoons movie.
Compound Chest and Back Workout
A man is bench pressing. Photo Credit Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

The chest and back pair well together in a workout because they are opposing muscle groups. Training them will help prevent muscle imbalances in the upper body. Using compound exercises is a good way to increase size and strength, as they recruit more than one muscle at a time. This gives you the ability to lift heavy weights.


During compound chest and back exercises, you constantly bend your elbows and shoulders. This leads to multiple muscles being activated at once. Instead of just jumping right into a workout, take the time to thoroughly warm up your body. Include 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio and a series of dynamic stretches in this warm-up. Dynamic stretches acclimate the body to movement patterns performed with exercise, which reduces the chance for injury. Perform stretches such as forward bends, trunk rotations, arm crossovers, arm circles, shoulder shrugs and alternating toe touches.

Choice of Exercises

The back contains multiple muscles, such as the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids and erector spinae. The chest contains a two-part muscle known collectively as the pectorals. The goal with a compound workout is to make a clean sweep and target all of these muscles. Due to the size of the pecs, your best bet is to perform exercises from different angles. This will ensure you target the upper, middle and lower segments of both your chest and back. To satisfy all of these needs, perform bench presses, incline presses, decline presses to target the pectorals, and bent-over rows, upright rows and close-grip pulldowns for all sections of the back.

Technique Pointers

Proper technique is vital for not only making progress, but also to avoid injury. Use a full range of motion and do not rely on momentum to move the weights. Take the barbell bench press, for example. Start in a face-up position on a bench and grasp the bar with a wide grip. Keeping your abs tight, push the bar off the supports and hold it straight above your body with your arms fully extended. Slowly lower the bar as you take a deep breath and let it touch your chest lightly. Steadily push the bar back up as you exhale and repeat. Make sure to fully extend your arms when you push the bar up and squeeze your pecs at the top of the movement.


Using an adequate amount of resistance is important for making good progress with your workout. Aim for a resistance that you can lift 8 to 12 times with good form, approaching failure by the last two or three repetitions. Perform three to five sets with each exercise. To ensure you make your rep range, consider working out with a spotter.


Your muscles need to be worked, but they also need time to recover. It is during the recovery phase that muscle is actually being built. Working out every day with the intent to make fast progress is not the best approach. Instead, take at least one day off in between workouts. Make sure to get plenty of sleep as well.

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