Chest workouts are predictable, boring and redundant. And let us take a wild fuckin’ guess – you creatures of habit probably hit chest on Mondays, too. You have to mix it up every now and then to not only ‘shock the muscles,’ (if that is even accurate, but it sounds smart enough), but to also keep you from getting stagnant, which will, in turn, put a stunt in your growth.
A smooth transition from the usual barbell-led pressing movements is to turn to the dumbbell rack for an entire chest workout. There are a number of plusses to doing this every once in a while (some people ONLY use dumbbells) and they are fairly significant.
First of all, having to support the weight without the assistance of the opposite side (like when using a barbell) will help you work on that weaker arm. That, in turn, will help your stabilizer muscles.
There is also no comparison when you are using dumbbells when it comes to range of motion. You can take them down much lower than a barbell will allow, utilizing those extra precious inches passed the parallel mark. This will engage your pectoral muscles in a way that is simply not possible with a barbell and you probably only hit them from that angle when doing dips.
Here is a set of movements that you can do with dumbbells for an effective chest routine. Keep the reps in the 8-to-12 range and the sets between 12 and 15 total.
INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESSES
Some people prefer to start with flat presses, but it’s not a bad idea to be at full strength and perform the more difficult of the two – which is incline. Great for that always difficult to develop upper pectoral muscles.
FLAT DUMBBELL PRESSES
The go-to exercise and one that will work your overall chest muscles together. Because of the simplicity of the exercise and the stability that the flat bench provides, this is a great opportunity to give the ‘rest -pause’ method a try.
DECLINE DUMBBELL PRESSES
This is the one exercise that doesn’t give you much of an advantage over the barbell variety, as the range of motion is fairly deep with the bar – a must if you want to isolate the lower chest muscles.
If you’re going to do an all-dumbbell chest day, choose this movement over the decline presses, as it will give you a much better stretch to your lower chest.
FLAT BENCH FLYES
A good choice as a finisher and one that will stretch out those pecs after blasting them with pressing movements.
Similar to doing them on the flat bench with more emphasis on your upper chest. Both these and flat flyes will also work on your inner chest muscles.
While doing these on the cable crossover machine may be commonplace, give it a shot with a pair of light dumbbells the next time and see how it feels. It will humble you that you may need to grab the ‘girlie weights’ to do a full and strict set, but don’t let that emasculate you. Once you feel the pump you will surely get after three sets, you’ll feel like a man again.
An even better way of doing these if from underneath with you palms facing up and in. It may feel awkward at first, but it is a killer once you get used to it.