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How much rest for chest-and-arm workouts?

7210-smart2Q: For a chest-and-arm workout, how much rest time should I take between exercises? Also, would you give me an example of a good workout that focuses on those two bodyparts?

A: How much rest time you take depends on the exercise. A bench press uses more muscle mass than a triceps pressdown, so more rest time is necessary. I also would perform more technically difficult exercises before simple ones, such as doing incline dumbbell curls before pressdowns. Here’s an example of a chest-and-arm workout that takes the size of the target muscle mass into consideration.


A1) Close-grip flat-bench presses, 4/2/X/0 tempo,

5 x 10, 8, 8, 6, 6, rest 120 seconds

A2) Seated dumbbell curls, 4/0/X/2 tempo,

5 x 10, 8, 8, 6, 6, rest 120 seconds

B1) Seated EZ-curl-bar French presses 3/2/1/0 tempo,

3 x 8-10, rest 90 seconds

B2) Close-grip barbell Scott curls, 3/2/1/0 tempo,

3 x 8-10, rest 90 seconds

C1) Pressdowns, 2/0/1/2 tempo,

3 x 10-12, rest 60 seconds

C2) Low-pulley curls, 2/0/1/2 tempo,

3 x 10-12, rest 60 seconds


The workout progresses from the most effective movements, involving the most muscle mass, to the least effective—the least muscle mass—with the rest intervals gradually decreasing as fatigue sets in.

If for some reason you cannot finish a workout, just completing the first two exercises will give you a good workout for your chest, triceps and biceps.


Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit Also, see his ad on the opposite page.   IM


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