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The best dumbbell chest workout to try this week

For gym lovers across the board, skipping chest day is a big no-no. Usually, a chest workout involves a mixture of bench presses, jumping on gym machines, and barbell exercises.

However, this formula needn’t be the only option. Adding dumbells to the chest-day arsenal may be just what you need to ensure that you can work out your chest muscles, even without going to a gym.

When using dumbells to complete chest exercises, there’s no need to wait for gym machines or find a spotter. It’s not even necessary to pay a hefty monthly gym membership. All you need is a bench and some dumbells, and you’re all set to work that upper chest like never before.

It’s now easy and affordable to purchase dumbells, something that was quite unusual a few years ago. They’re also extremely versatile.

While barbells and kettlebells are only ideal for some lifts, dumbells can usually be used as a replacement piece of equipment for most moves.

Investing in a set of dumbells is all you need to do to complete our killer dumbbell chest workout, whether it’s in your home, backyard, or even your garage.

The analogy of chest muscles

While other large muscle groups such as the legs and back are composed of many muscles, the chest is simpler. When we speak about the chest – otherwise referred to as pecs – we tend to be referring to the pectoralis major, a single muscle.

This muscle splits into three parts:

  1. The Upper Chest (Clavicular Part)
  2. The Centre or Middle Part (Sternal Part)
  3. The Lower Chest (Costal Part)

Underneath the pectoralis major is a smaller muscle group, known as the pectoralis minor. There are no specific exercises to target this muscle group, so it isn’t of much concern

However, inflammation of the pectoralis minor can be mistaken for shoulder pain. Therefore, knowing that it’s actually an issue with the pectoralis minor is important, to avoid misdiagnosis.

How to safely workout with dumbbells during our chest workout

When working out with dumbells, it’s important to know your limits. Lifting more than you’re comfortable and able to manage can result in injuries. Make sure that you’re able to lift the dumbells into starting position in a controlled manner, and that you’re able to put them down without aid.

Ensuring a proper technique will mean that you’re able to complete the dumbbell chest exercises properly, without any risk of injury.

Also Read: The best kettlebell core workout

How to conquer our kickass dumbbell chest workout

Our dumbbell workout is designed to be a circuit workout. This means that each exercise is completed to the set amount of reps, with a rest period in between each different exercise.

To get the most from your workout, in minimal time, keep rest periods between each exercise short, at about a minute or less.

Dumbbell bench press

One of the most effective free-weight exercises for improving the definition of pecs is the dumbbell bench press. It’s actually more effective than the classic barbell bench press.

Compared to a barbell bench press, a dumbbell bench press allows for a wider range of motion. Bringing the dumbbells together to complete the movement makes for better muscle contraction.

How to do it:

1) Lie down with your back on a flat bench, with your dumbbells in each hand just in front of your shoulders.

2) Push the dumbbells above your head, until your arms are straight, but don’t let them touch.

3) With your arms straight, contract your muscles and hold for a few seconds, before bringing them back down. Ensure that the range of motion is as large as possible.

10 reps

One arm, one leg dumbbell row

While this is a total body exercise, it mainly works on the chest muscles and the lats, while also stretching the hamstrings.

How to do it:

Stand on one leg, and hold onto a solid surface in front of you with one hand to stable yourself. Bend, by lifting the leg opposite to your free hand and dropping your chest.

Pick up a dumbbell with your free hand, and lift it to your waist before lowering it. Repeat this 10 times on one side, then switch to complete 10 reps on the other side.

10 reps per side

Dumbbell chest flyes

There aren’t many exercises that are as effective as this chest exercise when it comes to working the pecs, AND also working out the biceps and shoulders.

How to do it:

Lie with your back against a flat bench, and hold a pair of dumbbells above your chest with your palms facing inwards, and your elbows slightly bent. This is your starting position.

Keep your arms almost straight, and lower the dumbbells to the side, separating your hands, until you can feel a stretch in your chest, and your palms face the ceiling. Then, bring the dumbbells back to the starting position.

10 reps

Incline dumbbell bench press

This exercise is a variation of a bench press that works your chest from a different angle, making you place more emphasis on your upper chest and the front of your shoulders.

How to do it:

To begin the bench press, lie with your back on a bench set at 45 degrees. Hold the dumbbells at the outer edge of your shoulders. This is your starting position.

Next, lift them straight over your chest, before lowering them until they touch the sides of your shoulders, before pushing them back up.

10 reps

Also Read: What is lean bulking?

One arm dumbbell hang snatch

This is actually a full-body exercise, with most of the power coming from your hips. However, the chest provides stability during the “catch” phase. Practise this move with a light weight, so that you can perfect the form.

How to do it:

Stand up, with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell down in front of you. Keep your chest up and your back flat, and push your hips back and down, so that you can lower the dumbbell between your knees.

“Explode” in one motion, by extending your hips quickly and pulling the dumbbell straight up. When the weight reaches its maximum height, drop your body underneath it, and catch it overhead, before lowering it back to start position.

10 reps

One arm offset dumbbell bench press

Like a normal dumbbell press, this exercise builds strength in your chest, while also helping to stabilize the shoulders.

How to do it:

Lie on a flat bench, with your left glute and left shoulder blade on the bench, and the right glute and right shoulder blade off the bench.

Hold onto the bench above your head with your left hand, and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Lower the dumbbell until your elbow is in line with your shoulder, then return to starting position. Continue this for 10 reps, before switching sides.

10 reps per side

Bridged floor press

The bridged position allows you to target your pecs, while also activating your hamstrings and glutes. Floor presses mean that you’re less able to hip-drive the weight up, meaning your pecs are more emphasized.

How to do it:

Lie down, with your back on the floor or on a mat. Bend your knees, and with your feet flat on the floor, hold your dumbbells over your chest with your palms facing each other. Create a line from your knee to your shoulder by contracting your glutes, and pressing the balls of your feet into the floor.

Slowly lower the weights and hips together, and pause at the bottom before pushing back up into the bridge and bringing the weights back together.

10 reps

The bottom line – Crushing your chest workout

With these dumbbell exercises, you’ll be able to get the most from your chest workouts, without needing to go to the gym.

The variation in the above dumbbell chest workouts means that you’re hitting different muscles in the upper body, giving you a workout that targets both your pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

Just by investing in some adjustable dumbbells, you’re all set to work those chest muscles, helping you to build a bigger chest.

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