Run The Rack Chest Workout

Build your chest using this intense workout that focuses on working from light to heavy to light dumbbells. Can be inserted into virtually any split.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Single Muscle Group
Intermediate
8 weeks
1
20-30 minutes
Barbell, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female

Workout Description

This chest workout can be used as a nice change up and added into nearly any split. Though it contains a total of 3 exercises, you will be "running the rack" only on dumbbell bench presses.

Running the Rack

When running the rack, the rules are:

  1. Form - Always use good form. If your form starts to break down on a set, stop that set.
  2. Failure - Do not train to failure. The point of this workout is to overload your chest with a volume of sets. Stop a set if you feel like you may fail on the next rep.
  3. Rest - Rest at least 2 minutes between each set. You may rest 3-4 minutes between heavy sets if needed.
  4. Sets - The total number of sets you perform will vary. You will be working up and down in 10 pound dumbbell increments.

Running the Rack - Light to Heavy

For the first set of dumbbell bench presses, pick a weight that allows you to perform around 15 to 20 reps. After resting, perform another set using dumbbells that are 10 pounds heavier. So if you used 60 pounders for your first set, use 70 pound dumbbells for your second set. Continue this pattern of rest and adding weight until you perform 5 or fewer reps for a given set.

Here is an example of running the rack, light to heavy:

  • 50 pound dumbbells x 20 reps
  • 60 pound dumbbells x 15 reps
  • 70 pound dumbbells x 10 reps
  • 80 pound dumbbells x 6 reps
  • 90 pound dumbbells x 3 reps (5 or fewer reps, so progression upwards in dumbbells is stopped)

Running the Rack - Heavy to Light

Once you reach the point where you performed 5 or fewer reps for a set, you will now start to decrease the weight by 10 pounds per dumbbell. Once again, perform as many reps as possible, stopping all sets shy of failure, or when your form deteriorates.

Note: Only work back down to your starting dumbbell weight, and no lower.

Here is an example of running the rack, heavy to light:

  • 80 pound dumbbells x 5 reps
  • 70 pound dumbbells x 8 reps
  • 60 pound dumbbells x 12 reps
  • 50 pound dumbbells x 15 reps

Notes

After running the rack your chest, shoulders and triceps should have a nice pump. Take a 3-5 minute break before moving on the the next exercises.

How long can I use this workout?

Running this approach no longer than 8 weeks.

When do I add weight?

Add 5 pounds to the first dumbbell when you are able to perform 20 reps or more.

What are good substitutes for machine chest press and pec dec?

Can I use this workout more than once per week?

No. Hit it hard in the gym, then rest and recover. This is meant to be performed only once per week.

Chest Workout
Full Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Bench Press - Run the Rack Varies Varies
Machine Chest Press 3 8-12
Pec Dec 3 12-15

41 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 02/13/2014 - 18:07
John

Is it important to "Run the Rack" first? Can we do machine press first? Pec Deck second? Run the Rack last? Thanks.

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Posted Thu, 01/16/2014 - 18:44
George

I am interested in adding this work out to my four day split I already do, but it dosnt seem alot for chest? at the moment I do bench press, incline and decline, cable cross overs, dips and flys. Or is it that im doing too much at the moment?

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Posted Tue, 12/03/2013 - 16:59
Elias

Do i run the rack from heavy to light or from light to heavy ? Or i do them both ?

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Posted Sat, 11/02/2013 - 05:30
Body Pumpers

muscleandstrength Of the most beautiful sites that explain exercises in terrible ways and specially Chest muscle.. chest mucle is a muscle medium-sized businesses and is the interface for bodybuilding players I am very amused reading the explanation of this exercise .I’m a bodybuilder 9 years ago and do I explain exercises in slightly different ways www.bodypumpers.com

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Posted Sat, 10/26/2013 - 14:39
robert

will this workout increase strength for incline and decline as well? or should I run the rack on incline one week, decline the next, etc?

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Posted Sun, 10/13/2013 - 02:58
robert

can you use this workout fer other muscle groups? like biceps?

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Posted Tue, 07/16/2013 - 20:07
mike

Having big problems benching.My shoulders feel pain and weakness.Any suggestions?

mnsjason's picture
Posted Wed, 07/17/2013 - 17:22
mnsjason

It could very well be your form. Most lifters have a tendency to flare their elbows out. You want to keep your elbows tucked in and "row" the bar to your chest. Those who flare the elbow out tend to suffer from shoulder pain.

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Posted Fri, 06/28/2013 - 10:24
buryboy79

When do I add weight?

Add 5 pounds to the first dumbbell when you are able to perform 20 reps or more.

At what stage of RTR? 1st set of the exercise (lightest) or last set of the exercise (lightest)

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Posted Tue, 06/04/2013 - 09:45
Harbhajan singh

Is adviseable for 80 years for weight training ; chest building with dumbbell ? I am using 3 kg dumbbell and working out 4 days a weak. I have no coach and needed advise.

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Posted Mon, 05/13/2013 - 21:14
Alim

how many days to workout in the week., and how long should one train every session mean timing?

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Posted Tue, 05/07/2013 - 14:00
Johnny

this workout is awesome and I love it. What exercise should I do after the 8 weeks? Going back to my normal routine or find another workout exercise?

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Posted Sun, 04/21/2013 - 22:39
Jim

How much weight would you add each set if it was flat barbell bench?

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Posted Mon, 03/25/2013 - 12:45
Gabriel Salazar

When do I incorporate incline dumbell press? Or incline flies?

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Posted Wed, 03/13/2013 - 15:07
Nick Souza

I lift 5 days a week. 3 on 1 off 2 on 1 off. I do chest twice a week, once to start an once after my off day. Can I sub this workout into one of my chest days and see progress or would that be over training.

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Posted Tue, 07/02/2013 - 04:12
Juan

You can do chest and arms twice per week.I do chest biceps Day 1 Monday,,then shoulders triceps day 2 Tuesday,then back and abs day3 Wednesday,,then legs Triceps day4 thursday,then chest and biceps day 5 Friday.Then rest Saturday and Sunday.

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Posted Wed, 01/30/2013 - 08:10
ryan

hey i am looking to tone my chest up, add muscle to it and shed the fat around it. this will be my first night doing 'run the rack'. how many 'sets' of it should i be doing or how many times should i repeat the 'run the rack' exercise?
many thanks

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Posted Sun, 01/27/2013 - 17:41
Hello

What should I do after this workout and all the other workouts?

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Posted Thu, 01/10/2013 - 14:26
jack

hey steve,
as for shoulders, do u use run the rack for every exercise or just first exercise?

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Posted Mon, 11/05/2012 - 05:45
Val

Hi Steve,

Can you please clarify something. It says "Add 5 pounds to the first dumbbell when you are able to perform 20 reps or more". So for example, I did 20reps with 50 pounds, so the next time I will start with 55p. But what is the weight for the next sets? Is it 65,75,85... or should I stick with what I did last week - 60, 70, 80?

Thank you

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Posted Sun, 09/23/2012 - 22:51
rupam

as u mention "Running this approach no longer than 8 weeks." after 8 week then the chart will be.........? n 'Running the Rack' 2sen heavy 2 light then light to heavy these 2 set or more?
thnx for the post plz ans me...........

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Posted Mon, 08/27/2012 - 02:11
Josh

Just curious, any part of this working the upper chest?

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Posted Sun, 07/08/2012 - 12:20
Pete

Can I alternate one week flat bench the next incline bench and so on for run the rack?

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Posted Fri, 07/06/2012 - 13:58
Jake

is one set of running the rack do you do heavy to light or light to heavy, or do you do both?

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Posted Fri, 08/17/2012 - 11:33
Mike

One set is Low to High and back down High to Low.

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Posted Wed, 06/27/2012 - 18:37
Jack

If I use this workout, may I run either chest and biceps on the same day?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 10:56
Steven

Absolutely.

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Posted Wed, 09/12/2012 - 18:14
bon87

Hey Steve,
I was wondering if it would be a good idea to use this routine 1 week, then mix it up with another chest routine the following chest workout, and just cycle back and forth with these 2 seperate chest routines. Is that a good idea?

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Posted Mon, 06/25/2012 - 21:50
oddy

Can I use this technique in working out other muscle groups?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 10:55
Steven

Absolutely.

Joey's picture
Posted Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:26
Joey

Definetly. 

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Posted Mon, 12/03/2012 - 16:29
Ash Brackers

Could I do bb bench for run the rack instead of db bench

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Posted Tue, 06/12/2012 - 07:00
pd

should i be doin the dumbell benchpress run the rack then 1 set of incline benching, 1set pec dec, 2nd set inclines, 2nd set pec dec, 3rd set inclines, 3rd set pec dec in that order or would it be best to finish all sets of 1 workout before moving on?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 06/12/2012 - 14:37
Steven

After dumbbell presses do all 3 sets of the next exercise before moving on to the final exercise.

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Posted Sun, 06/10/2012 - 23:30
jeremy

Once you figure out youre starting weight and max weight for running the rack should you go to failure on the last set? Just wondering is this more of a pre exhaustion type of workout?

Thanks for any input

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 06/12/2012 - 14:37
Steven

No, do not train to failure.

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Posted Sun, 06/10/2012 - 10:08
Joe Spaz

Seems intense and will be effective. For the rest of the week should I continue my regular workout such as Legs, Bi's, Tri's Back, shoulders and Abs?

Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 06/10/2012 - 12:25
Steven

Absolutely. Just allow for some recovery before blasting another Pushing workout, such as shoulders and/or triceps.

I would either run triceps or biceps on the same day after this workout.

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Posted Mon, 11/05/2012 - 11:45
Josiah

What are the best toning work outs you have for former football players? I was an offensive lineman about 6'3" 331 lbs. Now I need to shed body fat and reserve my muscle in the meantime.

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Posted Sun, 06/09/2013 - 14:15
Miichael

Thank you.. i was about to ask if i could do my biceps with this routine.. But you already answered it..

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Posted Wed, 05/22/2013 - 11:47
AlphaBuild

Yes after you have done all of these sets, you can go into another major muscle workout or you can rest and go another day.