Working out with weights makes your muscles bigger and stronger. These changes occur after you complete your workout, so it is important to allow your muscles to recover fully before you train them again. Many chest exercises also involve your triceps. This means that you should work chest and triceps during the same workout or with sufficient recuperation time in between. Discuss your training regimen and proper recovery times with your doctor.
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Lifting weights breaks down muscle protein. After your workout, your body compensates by replacing the lost amount and adding more back. This makes your muscles stronger and less susceptible to breakdown in the future. It also makes them bigger. After your workout, you should ingest enough protein to support this synthesis without doing anything to create further breakdown until recovery is complete. Protein synthesis is elevated for 48 hours after resistance training, so you should not work the same muscle again until at least 48 hours have elapsed.
There are two types of weightlifting movements. Isolation movements involve motion that is exclusive to the joint that the target muscles crosses. These are also called single-joint movements. Compound movements differ because they also involve motion at joints that the target muscle does not cross. This means that muscles other than the target one are involved in these movements.
The muscles of your chest can be trained with both compound and isolation movements. A dumbbell or machine fly is an isolation exercise because motion occurs at the shoulder only. Conversely, when you are bench pressing, you are also extending your elbow, which means that your triceps are involved. You must consider this involvement when deciding when to do single-joint exercises that isolate your triceps.
If you perform bench presses for your chest, you should work out your triceps on the same day after working your chest, or 48 hours after the workout, once full recovery has occurred. You should not train chest and triceps on consecutive days because your triceps will be overworked. Conversely, if you only do isolation exercises for your chest, you can perform triceps exercises the next day because they will not be directly worked when you are training your chest.
- American Journal of Physiology: Mixed Muscle Protein Synthesis and Breakdown after Resistance Exercise in Humans
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 4th Edition: American Council on Exercise; 2010