For the last 6 months I have been doing a 3 day routine twice per week in the following structure:

  • Legs and shoulders
  • Chest and triceps
  • Back and biceps

I have seen very good results with this routine (I'm fairly certain it is quite a common plan) but lately I haven been reading a lot about doing chest and back on the same day.

I'm considering changing my routine to:

  • Legs and shoulders
  • Chest and back
  • Biceps and triceps

But I am very skeptical of having two large muscle groups (chest and back) on the same day. I have always been under the impression that recovery doesn't yield good results if you hit multiple large areas. I did previously train biceps and triceps on the same day with better results than I am currently experiencing, but my current routine overall is working better.

Would this change have better results than my current routine? What are some pros and cons of what I am doing now vs the proposed routine? I've touched on some material talking about lactic acid moving around in a beneficial way during your workout if you alternate chest and back sets, but I'm not sure what is true and what's not.

My goal is mass.

  • You do not want to use the second routine because working on your chest would most likely mean that you are also working on triceps (pushups, dumbell/barbell presses, etc). That counts for your back and biceps too!
    – user8502
    May 1, 2014 at 18:27
  • I'm asking myself the same question. You say you've been reading a lot about combining chest and back. Do you have any links about that? In my (very small and anecdotal) experience, training back and biceps the same day gave me the impression that once I had finished training my back, my arms were already half exhausted and didn't really benefit from the remaining exercises. Same for chest + triceps. I now combine biceps + triceps and then back + chest and I feel that it allows me to train more intensely.
    – s427
    May 2, 2014 at 11:15
  • @s427 I have been thinking the exact same thing; my biceps are pretty worn out after an intense back workout, same with my triceps after chest. I will collate what material I have come across when I get the chance.
    – Marty
    May 2, 2014 at 11:19
  • It depends on your body's reaction to the exercise. Personally I've done that routine and it gives me great results, I feel more energetic and much stronger especially when you do them at the same time(example set of bench press then pull ups, then 2nd set and so on...) It looks like there is no rest time because right after pull up get back on bench press. The rest for your chest would be the pull up time and vice versa . but I get back on my old routine because I felt that it is not that intense anymore for me. So I think that going back to my old routine would freshen up my body.
    – Ker p pag
    Feb 6, 2015 at 3:00

4 Answers 4


As a former competitive bodybuilder, I can tell you that there is no one recipe for gaining mass. My "pros" and "cons" for a routine would not be the same for you. That's because everyone is an individual. It's all about forcing your muscles to overcome their desire to adapt to workload. One sure way to help that is to change up your training routine as you've proposed. That may mean switching the order of body parts, days, etc. In the "old" days, we would switch up the routine every 6 to 8 weeks in order to not become "stale". As there are with diets, there are many "fad" training routines. Pick the one(s) that work for you and make small adjustments. Just be mindful of getting proper nutrition and rest.

  • 1
    I agree with everything said, though I am curious whether you tried the proposed routine in your career? If so, what was your experience with it?
    – Marty
    May 2, 2014 at 6:10
  • 1
    Yes, I have tried that routine. However, as I stated in my answer, I made sure to avoid any problems with pre-exhausting antagonist muscles by occasionally changing the order they were performed. That way, one muscle group does not become more dominant than the other thus affording you a more balanced physique.
    – rrirower
    May 2, 2014 at 12:24
  • 1
    This is the most succinct, honest answer I've read in a while. Everyone is different, there is no magic-routine, it takes a ton of dedication and fine-tuning to achieve a goal. Thank you for being the right kind of physical fitness advocate.
    – BryceH
    Dec 22, 2014 at 19:32

Lots of people train with full-body routines. They train legs and shoulders and back and biceps and triceps and all the rest on the same day. It works for many people. It might work for you--or it might not, depending on your specific training level and needs.

I am not convinced that recovery has anything to do with whether one hits multiple muscle groups. I think that recovery is a whole-body affair, whereas stimulus can be either whole-body (e.g. burpees) or highly specific (e.g. using a grip trainer).

Split routines, I think (without much evidence), are more about managing stimulus than managing recovery. It can take a lot of time for a big, strong person to really make their back tired. That person might want to devote almost an entire workout to doing so. Other people might be fine with just a half hour of deadlifts and pull-ups for their back, and see results that way.


I've just started experimenting with chest/back on the same day, and love the intensity. Although because it is time consuming, I've created my routine with chest/back supersets. I get a crazy good workout in 1 hour's time.

I do 3 supersets that looks like this:

  • Incline dumbbell chest press / superset with Wide Grip Weighted chinups. (both 3x6)
  • Cable rows / superset with flat chest flys (3x10)
  • Weighted chest dips / superset with another form of row. (3x8-12)

And I've just started introducing a second day of chest/back in my week, with other exercises to target areas I may have missed: pin pulls, hyper extensions, flat dumbbell bench press, etc.

  • Welcome to fitness.stackexchange.com, thanks for sharing your answer!
    – Eric
    Dec 23, 2014 at 6:32

Well, I have been lifting for 1 year this week. I started that workout routine and I am loving it. For chest and back, I combine both muscles in super sets. Watch the youtube video of Lazar Angelov's chest and back routine. Thats the one I am doing for triceps and biceps. Watch how Arnold does it. I like the old school kind of routine. If you are cutting, my advice is not to cut a lot of carbs out. You will need them before your w.o. for good energy. For me, 0 carbs or -50 carbs diet is b.s.

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