Table Of Contents:
3: Workout One
4: Workout Two
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Top 10 Dumbbell Chest Exercises
This is arguably the best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells if you’re planning on building muscle at home.
Confident words from a 51-year-old natural bodybuilder making his name from improving physiques and growing natural muscle with minimal equipment.
Hi, I’m Psymon H., your online training partner, workout motivator, and the man behind the BIG-UP Home Training System.
The best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells is a two-part muscle-building blueprint for intermediate and advanced lifters serious about taking their physiques to the next level. If that’s you, you’re going to want to keep on reading, because what I'm about to lay out is a four-week training plan of attack, working chest and triceps twice per week. All you have to do is commit 100% to the fight for new muscle by doing everything in your power to grow inside and outside of the gym.
In this first part, we’re going to lay out the tools for breaking into your treasure chest and ransacking the muscle fibers from top to bottom with some well-thought-out dumbbell exercises.
Next, I’ll table another plan to target and destroy your Triceps with an equally venomous set of dumbbell exercise movements.
Each exercise will come with pictures and cues so there will be no mistaking your intent when you hit the gym on your first workout session.
In part two (the next article), we’ll strategize and plot our way through a training protocol designed to measure your performance, and then we’re going to light up the chest and triceps with an intensity technique. We’ll also discuss sets, reps, and repetitions in reserve. After the setup phase, all systems go!
Before we start part one of this exciting new adventure, I just want to make two important points.
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It’s vitally important that you know what you're dealing with especially when it comes to training your chest. In my nearly 40 years of smashing iron, the one thing I come to realize is that you can save a lot of time and build more muscle when you train properly rather than just going through the motions.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you train harder, but instead, you train smarter. So to do this, first, we’re going to apply some helpful tips to instigate muscle growth.
Tip One: When performing any chest exercise, always keep your core stable and locked in place. When you do this, you avoid movement at the spine which changes the plane and angle of the exercise. The way we do this is to extend at the Thoracic spine and not at the Lumbar spine by tensing the core and bringing the chin down to the chest so you are looking along your torso.
Tip Two: Understand how to create distance from the top of your Sternum to the insertion point of your Pectoral muscle. The greater the distance created at the beginning of a movement, the greater the opportunity there is for muscles to create mechanical tension.
So in the case of a Dumbbell press, you would start by moving the dumbbells away from the Chest and setting the dumbbells at a right angle to your muscle, instead of having the dumbbell tucked into the side of your chest.
Tip Three: To have the best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells, you must learn how to lock your shoulders into place by retracting your Scapula. This will force the chest to do more of the work. In a dumbbell press, you would pin your shoulder blades into the bench and tense through your mid and lower traps to initiate the first part of the movement. Only when you are near the top of the press, you would follow through with your shoulders to finish the movement.
Tip 4: Always warm up at the beginning of a session and warm down at the end of a workout.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s press on and show you both workout sessions.
· Precision Incline Dumbbell Press
· Reverse and Twist Skull Crushers
· Standing Fly Into Press & Squeeze
· Decline Dead-stop Floor Press
Ok, we've all done incline dumbbell press before, so what is so special about this movement? If, like me, you’re not blessed in being able to grow a decent chest while using bad form, then this pressing movement is a great introduction to learning how to be meticulous with all parts of an exercise.
The reason why this makes my best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells is the return on the muscle you get when you invest care and attention to the details.
You’ll quickly realize after a few reps of this magnificent top-shelve chest builder that it's not the run-of-the-mill Dumbbell incline press. Be warned, your ego is going to have to give way to technique and good form for this to work.
Items Needed: An incline Bench set at a 60-degree angle and one pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Sit back on the bench with dumbbells in hand. Set the dumbbells at a 90-degree angle to your upper chest.
Cue 2: Lift your chest high, tense your core and bring your chin towards the top of your Chest so you are looking down your torso.
Cue 3: Retract your shoulder blades by pulling them down and pinning them into the bench.
Cue 4: Tense your chest as you press the dumbbells up to maximize the mechanical tension of the muscle. As you reach the top of the movement, you're going to focus on squeezing your upper arms against the side of your chest (this is what's known as bringing the origin and insertion points closer together.) It's only near the top of the movement do you start to follow through with your shoulders.
Cue 5: Bring the dumbbells down using that same line as if you are pressing between two panes of glass. Repeat all of the clues before each repetition.
Say what you want about this strange-looking exercise, but it works if you spend time implementing all of the cues, and that is why this beauty has made my list for the best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells.
The significant benefits to doing your fly on a roller as opposed to a flat bench are potentially how much harder they are to perform, the extra muscle fiber activation, and how much Shoulder stability is needed to fly through the movement.
Items Needed: Medium to long foam Roller and a pair of dumbbells. (If you don't have a roller, you can perform the movement on a couple of rolled-up bath or beach towels.)
Cue 1: Place foam roller on the floor, grab the dumbbells, and lay back on the foam roller, so it starts at the base of your spine and runs up the center of your Back.
Cue 2: Start as if you were doing a routine fly with arms straight and dumbbells together. Before lowering the dumbbell, retract your Shoulders and squeeze your mid and lower Traps into the roller.
Cue 3: Lower the dumbbells until your elbows touch the ground. On the way back to the top of the movement, practice focusing on your Back muscles bringing the dumbbells together.
Cue 4: Make sure to always retract your Shoulders at the start of every repetition. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
Did you know that your chest gets worked even when you’re pressing overhead? When you hear lifters complain that they have little to no upper Chest, it's because they often don't train at anything higher than a 45-degree angle. Add bad form which often changes the angle and plane of an exercise, leading to more Tricep and front Delt activation, now you can see why the Chest area often looks incomplete.
Here, we’re going after the Clavicle muscle fibers that sit right under the collar bone and also the Chest/Delt tie/in area. You can do this movement with or without a band. The benefit of the resistance band is that it adds additional tension to the top of the exercise.
Items Needed: Upright bench, light resistance band (optional), and a dumbbell.
Cue 1: Set your bench up in an upright position and place the band securely under your feet before looping the other end over the knuckle of your dumbbell.
Cue 2: Turn the dumbbell on its head and place the meaty part of your palms under the top knuckle before bringing it to the start position just under your chin. Raise your Chest, tense your core, and slightly flare your Elbows.
Cue 3: Retract your Shoulders by bringing them down before smoothly pressing the dumbbell overhead. Slowly lower the dumbbell to chin height before retracting your Shoulders and setting off for the next repetition.
Probably the most torturous standing Chest exercise on this list of the best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells, but one that will give the upper Chest no choice but to play ball and grow.
Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Stand with feet Shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your arms. Have your palms facing forward.
Cue 2: Tense your core, lift Chest high, and retract your Shoulder-blades before bringing the dumbbells up to Chin height.
Cue 3: At the top of the movement, you should have an underhanded grip of the dumbbells. Focus on bringing the origin and insertion points of your chest together and at this point squeeze the two nearest knuckles of the dumbbell together as hard as you can.
Cue 4: Turn the dumbbells so that your knuckles are touching each other and maintain the squeeze.
Cue 5: While still squeezing the life out of the dumbbells, lift them and bring them towards you so that they are sitting on your upper Chest.
Cue 6: Reverse all of the cues to get back to the start position.
This is a great movement to target the outer and lower portions of the Chest. While others run from decline angled work for fear of overdevelopment, we're going to run directly towards it and add the movement to our best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells to give balance to our upper chest movements. We're going to take this movement to the floor because we can use the ground as a dead-stop to put more stress on the chest and allow time to reset between reps to get the consistent technique.
Items Needed: A pair of dumbbells and a small platform or crate.
Cue 1: Grab the dumbbells and assume a hip-thrust position on the floor. To get more of a decline, place your feet on the top of a low platform, box, or crate. You should feel yourself resting on the very upper portion of your back. Set your arms so that the dumbbells are set at a 90-degree angle to your Chest muscle.
Cue 2: Retract your Shoulder-Blades by pulling them down and pinning them into the floor. Tense your core and bring your chin down.
Cue 3: Before pressing the dumbbells, tense your chest muscles to generate more mechanical tension and as you press the dumbbells up, concentrate on bringing your inner arms and outer chest together and squeeze.
Cue 4: Bring the dumbbells back to the 90-degree start position, and make sure that the elbows stay directly under the dumbbells. Think about nailing all of the cues before starting every repetition.
The Triceps consist of three different heads. First, you have a long head situated on the inside of your arm. On the outside of your arm is the Lateral Head. Underneath these two heads is where you'll find the Medial Tricep Head. On well-developed arms, the Medial head does pop out closer to the elbow, which allows it to influence Tricep width.
The mass for all three heads is estimated to make up anywhere from 60-70% of the total arm size, so you can see the importance of training this muscle group correctly.
Modeled on its older sister, the close grip barbell press, the Dumbbell Tricep Press is an attack-minded exercise that brutalizes the medial and lateral Tricep head. There’s no doubt that this upper body mass builder will cause collateral damage to other muscle groups such as the chest along with the anterior Deltoid, but this is what makes the exercise a perfect marriage made in workout heaven.
Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells and a flat bench
Cue 1: Lay back on a flat bench in a dumbbell press position, but with elbows tucked in and the dumbbells set at a 45-degree angle touching the edge of your chest.
Cue 2: Keeping the dumbbells close to you, tense your Triceps, and press the dumbbells directly overhead.
Cue 3: Bring them down with the same narrow plane, keeping the dumbbells close to your body.
Many will tell you that any Kickbacks are a grand waste of time, but I’m here to tell you the exact opposite. Why does this exercise make my list for the best chest and Tricep workout with dumbbells?
Take a look where the origination point of the long Tricep head is located and you’ll quickly notice that it starts at the back of the shoulder. As it derives from the back of the shoulder, a simple extension of the Elbow does not provide you with full contraction of the long Tricep head.
To get full contraction of this part of the Triceps (the long meaty bit at the back of your arm most visible from the rear), you have to bring the insertion point on the forearm closer to the origination point on the back of the shoulder. The best way to do this is by bringing your arm behind the line of your body. The Kneeling Dumbbell kickback allows you to do just that.
Items Needed: Upright bench and one pair of dumbbells
Cue 1: Kneel on an upright bench with your torso resting on the back. Start with your elbows tucked into your sides with the dumbbells in the curl position in front of you. (This puts your Triceps in a fully lengthened position. As Biceps are opposite muscles to the Triceps, this would be shortening and contracting the Biceps).
Cue 2: Extend your elbows so that the dumbbells travel behind you (this shortens and contracts the Triceps and is the exact opposite of the Biceps.) At the very top of the movement tense the Triceps before returning the dumbbells to the start position.
No doubt you’ve performed your fair share of the standard Skull Crusher; now it’s time to advance the movement and up the ante, hence its inclusion on the best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells. This Skull crushing version is a no-brainer once you’ve felt the horseshoe pressure on all three heads.
Items Needed: Flat bench and a pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Lay back on a flat bench. Have the dumbbells in a reverse grip by the crown of your head with your elbows in the air.
Cue 2: Bring the dumbbells out and up instead of up and over your head. As they reach the top of the movement, twist them so that your palms face away from you. Try not to swing the bells up or flare your elbow too far out to the sides; this will help to limit momentum and focus the stress on the right area.
From the outset, the Incline Kickout looks like a cross between the Seated Tricep Extension and the Close Grip Bench Press, and while it isn’t the most popular of all dumbbell tricep exercises, it’s a movement that will especially target the medial Tricep head and delivering an incredible pump.
Items Needed: Incline bench and a pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Place incline bench at a 60-degree angle, and set elbows so that they are flared out to the side with dumbbells lightly resting on the upper Chest.
Cue 2: When you get to the top of the movement, rotate your thumbs up to put extra stress on Tricep heads.
We are now on the last exercise of the best chest and tricep workout using dumbbells. This is a great movement for learning how to lengthen the Long Tricep head. While this demands more technique than other movements, once you learn the different cues, you’ll be off and running with another yet brilliant exercise for the Triceps.
Items Needed: Flat bench and a pair of dumbbells.
Cue 1: Lay flat on a bench with a palm-up grip and weights resting to each side of your chin. In this position, the Triceps are loaded.
Cue 2: Slowly press the dumbbells out instead of up, making sure to keep the forearm parallel to the ground. Once you're in full extension, tense your Triceps hard and hold for a brief second.
Cue 3: Now, bend the elbow and slowly drop the dumbbells below head height. At this stage, pause in this fully lengthened position and briefly tense.
Cue 4: You’re now going to play this movement back in reverse, making sure to hold and squeeze when the dumbbells are in full extension and when they return to the side of your chin.
As you’re up to date with all of the exercises and cues for the best chest and tricep workout with dumbbells, be ready for part two where we’ll strategize and plot our way through a training protocol designed to measure your performance, and then we’re going to light up the chest and triceps with an intensity technique. We’ll also discuss sets, reps, and repetitions in reserve…
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