A Chest, Shoulder, Tricep Workout to Build Upper Body Power

By Jason Williams on August, 11 2021
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The right chest shoulder tricep workout is key for building power with clients of all ages. Whether it is an older adult desiring independence and better functionality or an elite athlete seeking to improve performance, power is vital to their health.

Before throwing together a program, however, there are a number of key factors to take into consideration. Get all the variables right and create the best program for your clients to develop maximum power during their workouts with these strategies and example workout. 

Keep Reading: How to Structure an Upper Body Workout for Beginners


Key Upper Body Power Factors

When designing chest, shoulder, tricep workout programs for power it’s important to understand that power is the product of force times velocity. Often, enhancing the velocity or speed of a movement will improve power; however, this is not always the case. Some need to improve force-producing capability, whereas others need to move weight faster. Determining this variable is key to developing a training program designed to improve power.

In addition, the first question to ask is what is the client’s goal? Are they a shot putter seeking to improve throw distance? A powerlifter seeking to improve bench press strength? A fighter seeking to improve punching power? Answering questions such as these will determine the exercises and vectors to employ. 

For the sake of simplicity and clarity, the rest of this article will assume the client needs to improve the velocity spectrum of the force-velocity curve for the upper body. In addition, specific training methods will be recommended along with an example of a training day.

Keep Reading: 5 Tactical Fitness Strategies to Use With Your Clients


How to Use Prilepin’s Chart

I often tell my undergraduate students that you must first cook rice until you can make your sushi; an analogy that describes the process of learning and perfecting fundamentals. A Prilepin chart is especially useful in this case. 

This chart, shared below, was assembled after researchers and practitioners combed through decades of training logs from Russian athletes in the 1960’s through the 1970’s. Now, do practitioners exceed the bounds of this chart? Of course. But it serves as a guidepost for exercise prescription. 

I would not recommend use of such a chart for hypertrophy training. However, when attempting to periodize training to improve the most elusive physiological variables (power), careful planning that mitigates fatigue and overtraining is essential. Learn more about Prilepin’s Chart and how to use it in this how-to video from Alexander Bromley.


Develop Your Training Plan

Before developing and analyzing the training plan, it’s important to first be aware of the following key considerations:


Intent is Key

When training for power, the intent must be 100 percent. The goal is to move the bar at the highest velocity possible, so clients need to be completely committed.


Rest Periods Matter

Power training may not seem taxing, thus, it’s tempting to shorten the rest periods. This is to be avoided at all costs. A minimum of 2 minutes of rest is needed to perform optimally. You may not feel fatigued at the end of the set, but the nervous system is acutely tired. 

Your nervous system is frantically screaming from the balconies of the brain down to the periphery of many muscles. This is known as rate coding and rapid rate coding can quickly cause fatigue if too much stimulus is applied and not enough rest is prescribed.

Keep Reading: Does Cardio Burn Muscle? What You Need to Know


Example Chest, Shoulder, Tricep Workout

The following workout blends strength exercises followed by explosive movements. This form of power training is known as complex training. Complex training works by way of post activation potentiation, a phenomenon that increases power of the proceeding exercises after lifting a heavy load. Lim et al. (2016) provides the following requirements before clients use this training method:

  • At least two years of resistance training experience
  • Relative strength of 1.4 x 1RM
  • Rest periods of 3-4 minutes






Dynamic Upper Body Warm up (5-10 min)


1A. Push Press

5 x 2


3 minutes

1B. Supine medicine ball chest throws

3 reps


2A. Bench Press

5 x 2

80 %

3 minutes

2B. Plyometric Push up

3 reps



At first glance this session may seem too simple and not contain enough volume. However, more is not better when it comes to training for power. Avoid the mistake of overdoing volume.  Also, moving the bar with maximum intent requires a rested nervous system, so remember to  avoid rushing through the workout. 

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Develop a A Chest, Shoulder, Tricep Workout Program With Power in Mind 

When programming for power, it’s important to take a step back. The chest, shoulder, tricep workout I’ve shared here is very different from any program you might use for standard hypertrophy-focused resistance and strength training. As such, there are a wide variety of elements to take into consideration to keep the client safe and ensure results. Use these strategies to create an upper body power program that boosts power.


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