Chest and Back Exercises for Sports Performance and Injury Prevention

One of the fastest ways to make performance gains is to concentrate on your chest and back. Develop full-body strength with four exercise combos from STACK Expert Jim Carpentier.

DB Bent-Over Row

Building the chest and back is essential for performing better in almost every sport. The chest muscles are involved in pushing movements in sports such as football (blocking), wrestling (pushing away an pponent), basketball (passing and shooting), ice hockey (pushing opponents away from the boards to get to the puck), and volleyball (set ups). Lower, middle and upper back muscles are engaged in pulling movements in sports such as rowing, football (tackling), wrestling (pulling an opponent down to the mat) and basketball (pulling down a rebound).

Below are four full body exercise combinations that target not only chest and back muscles, but also arm, shoulder, leg, hip and core muscles that assist the chest and back during pushing and pulling motions. These exercises will improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.

Full-Body Chest/Back Combo Exercises


  • Sets/Reps: 3x10
  • No rest between exercises in a combo
  • Rest 30 seconds between combo sets and hydrate

Side Lunges with Med Ball Press-Outs & Pull-Ups

  • Assume athletic stance holding a moderately heavy med ball at chest height
  • Lunge laterally with right leg and simultaneously explosively press ball away from chest
  • Drag left foot toward right foot while bringing ball back to chest
  • Repeat for nine more reps, then perform 10 Pull-Ups

Swiss Ball Squeezes with Squats & Standing Cable Rows

  • Assume athletic position while holding a Swiss ball at chest height with arms slightly bent
  • Perform 10 Squats while squeezing the ball as hard as you can
  • Immediately do 10 Standing Cable Rows to waist level at 80% RM

Elevated Push-Ups, Prone Planks & Hyperextensions (Supermen)

  • Place toes atop a bench or chair in a push-up position with hands at shoulder width
  • Perform 10 Push-Ups, then immediately put forearms on floor and hold prone plank position for 60 seconds
  • Without rest, come off chair or bench, place toes on floor and move to stomach
  • Place hands in front of head and simultaneously raise upper and lower body off floor 10 times (abdomen is on floor at all times) for the Superman movement

Bar Dips, One-Legged Squats & Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

  • Perform 10 Dips on parallel bars
  • Immediately grab two dumbbells (80% RM) and assume squat position on right leg (left foot dangling off floor)
  • Simultaneously pull dumbbells to waist while straightening knee
  • Finish set, then switch to left leg
  • Perform 10 Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

Build full-body strength this summer with workouts from STACK's Chest and Back guides.


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