If you were a highly qualified personal trainer with your own gym, you’d have the knowledge and resources to construct the perfect workouts. But, while the office or factory calls for many of us when our alarm goes off each morning, the good news is that we can draw on the wisdom of these strength and conditioning professionals in order to save time and skip straight to their tried and tested plans. Here, Jake Gowan a personal trainer and owner of Halo Gym in Tunbridge Wells, England, has developed a seriously effective chest and back workout that you can try for yourself in order to make massive gains. He also uses drop set pins as a great hack to minimize rest times and keep reps flowing.

Since Jake Gowan is able to trial different equipment and routines in a gym that he’s been running successfully for more than 12 years, this qualified coach is in a great position to figure out what works and what is just a bunch of hype when it comes to packing on muscle.

Drop Set pins in a weight lifting machine
Jake Gowan

What are dropset pins?

Dropset pins are a relatively inexpensive accessory that you insert into your machine’s weight stack. They are spring loaded, so once you have completed each set, the dropset pins will eject. You can place multiple dropset pins on your stack, meaning that you can progress through your dropsets with no downtime required for setting up the next plate. Many people take advantage of this momentum and reduce their rest time to around three seconds between sets. This makes dropset pins great for those who want to make the most of their time under tension while also increasing their endurance levels.

Jake Gowan performing his Back and Chest Drop Set Pins Workout
Jake Gowan

Jake Gowan’s Back and Chest Drop Set Pins Workout

Cybex Eagle Chest Press (with Dropset Pins) — 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Hammer Strength Low Row (with Dropset Pins) — 2 Sets x 10 Reps

Cybex Bravo Chest Press (with Dropset Pins) — 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Triceps Dips (weighted optional) — 2 Sets x 10 Reps

Pullups (assisted, weighted optional) — 2 Sets x 10 Reps

Jake Gowan’s Back and Chest Workout Deconstructed

Space out this workout so that you are executing it twice each week and take 3 seconds rest between each set. “If I wasn’t doing dropsets with the dropset pins, I would take a three-minute rest rather than three seconds,” explains Gowan. “Using the dropset pins are just an easier way of doing dropsets. It’s basically one giant, intense set rather than 3 individual sets.” The PT points out that dropset pins are great for reducing the time between sets, but also notes that for some exercises, rest time should be utilized fully. “The rest time of a typical set depends on the size of the muscle,” he explains. “If you are working to failure on a back squat then 3 minutes might not be quite long enough to recover for your next set. However, doing lateral raises for the delts would require a lot l less rest time between sets as the muscle is much smaller.”

Cybex Eagle Chest Press or Equivalent

Gowan has installed a Cybex Eagle Chest Press at Halo Gym because the movement takes a natural path, heading forward and then to the center rather than simply straight ahead. The Cybex Eagle’s arms also move independently of each other, requiring the user to work each arm to achieve balance, rather than just relying on the strongest limb.

Hammer Strength Low Row or Equivalent

“Like the Cybex Eagle Chest Press, how the Hammer Strength Low Row works is fantastic,” explains Gowan. “It’s heavier on the muscles at the lengthened range, and it feels lighter as you pull back in on the shorter range. So, the resistance really matches the strength profile of our muscles. We use a lot of the lats in this movement and then as we really squeeze back, our deltoids, rhomboids and traps are activated.”

Cybex Bravo Chest Press (seated) or Equivalent

This Cybex Bravo machine is great for working the chest through its full range of motion. “Again, like the Cybex Eagle, the movement converges, starting out wide and then narrows,” explains Gowan, who prefers to be seated on a bench while pressing ahead in order to work from an optimum position. Start with the handles in front of your shoulders and place your elbows out to the sides, a little below the shoulders. As you push the handles out straight ahead your hands should get closer together.

Triceps Dips (weighted optional)

In order to add more emphasis on the chest, Gowan leans further forward during his triceps dips. He also carries a weight around his waist to increase the load. The coach explains that exercises such as dips are also great tools for working on our stabilizing muscles, such as the serratus anterior since you will be balancing yourself as you complete each rep.

Pullups (assisted or weighted optional)

Gowan performs his pullups with an overhand grip, a great way to build the much-needed forearm and grip strength that is essential for completing each rep. While this strength professional is able to execute his pullups while wearing an additional weight, those who are new to this exercise should begin with either their own bodyweight, or consider assisted pullups by using a resistance band. Any of these methods will help teach you the proper form while building strength and improving your stability while navigating the correct movement pattern.

“I like doing functional training as well as bodybuilding training,” shares Gowan, In summarizing this chest and back workout. The PT is detailed in his approach, making sure to hit his muscles from all angles. And, by adding the dropset pins, he is able to blast through the machine portion of his workout with no fuss. While Gowan likes to lift heavy weights, he’s just as excited by the idea of lifting his own bodyweight. “Building muscle is a slow and steady game,” he explains. “Consistency is key.”