Challenge and build strength in your upper body with this dumbbell chest and back workout. All you need is a mat and a few pairs of dumbbells.
I’ve always struggled with my upper body strength. New Years have come and gone with the resolve to be able to do an unassisted pull up by year’s end. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve made that resolution, but I can tell you that I’ve failed to uphold it every year. I know the fault is my own. I’m not consistent enough with my upper body workouts, specifically with moves that will help with a pull up.
So instead of waiting until the New Year to make a resolution, I’m making one here and now. I’m not going to resolve to be able to do a pull up (mostly because I don’t have access to a pull up bar in which to track my progress), but I will resolve to be more consistent with strengthening my upper body, and it’s all starting with this dumbbell chest and back workout.
THE DUMBBELL CHEST AND BACK WORKOUT
Take as long as you need to complete all assigned reps with good form. After completing each move, start again at the top until you’ve completed each move three times through. Rest when needed, but the goal is to keep moving.
Move 1: Alternating Chess Press Triset – 10 reps with the right arm, 10 reps with the left arm, 20 reps alternating and 10 reps with both arms at the same time (see below for more details on how to do the move)
Move 2: Plank Row – 20 reps
Move 3: Chest Fly with Glute Bridge – 10 reps
Move 4: Supermans – 10 reps
Move 5: Reverse Fly – 10 reps
Move 6: Lat Pullover – 10 reps
Move 7: Staggered Push Up – 10 reps
HOW TO DO THE MOVES
Alternating Chess Press Tri-Set: Lay on your back with feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Hold a medium dumbbell in each hand and press them over your chest, palms facing each other. Keep your left arm raised and back flat on the floor as you bend at the elbow and lower your right arm down to the floor at a 90 degree angle. Press the arm back up. Repeat 10x. Then switch sides, keeping the right arm raised as you lower and press the left arm. Then alternate the press, doing one rep with the right arm (left arm raised) and one rep with the left arm (right arm raised) for a total of 10 reps per side. Then lower and press both arms at the same time for 10 reps.
Plank Rows: – Get into a plank position with a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Keep the hips in line with the torso, engage the core and row the right dumbbell up toward your chest, sending the elbow up toward the ceiling. Return to start and row the left dumbbell up toward your chest. Repeat for a total of 20 reps. Your core and butt should remain square to the floor. If you find your torso rotating with each row, step your feet wider.
Chest Fly with Glute Bridge: Lay on your back with feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Hold a light-medium dumbbell in each hand and press them over your chest, palms facing each other. Keep your shoulder-blades and upper back pressed into the floor as you tighten your booty, engage your core and drive your hips up toward the ceiling. This is your starting position. Hold the bridge as you slowly lower the weights down to the sides, forming a T with your arms and torso. Just before your arms hit the floor, slowly pull them back up to start. Repeat while holding the bridge position (alternatively, you can lower your butt back down to the floor between reps).
Supermans: Lay on the floor, belly down, with legs straightened behind you and arms straightened out in front of you. Engage your core and lift your arms and legs off the floor as much as you can comfortably. Return back down to the floor and repeat for 60 seconds.
Reverse Fly: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hinge at your hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. The dumbbells should hang straight down from your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight) and palms facing each other. Keep your core tight and back flat as you pull your shoulder blades down and back while raising your arms out to the side until your elbows are at shoulder height. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pause for a second. Then slowly return to start.
Lat Pullover: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Hold a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand and press them over your chest, palms facing each other. With a flat back (keep your low back pressed to the floor, no arch), lower the weights toward the floor behind your head until your arms are in line with your torso. Arms should not touch the ground. This is your starting position. Engage your lats and raise the weights back above your chest. Pause, return to start and repeat.
Staggered Push-Up: Start in a high plank position with wrists under the shoulders and feet hip width apart, back flat and core engaged. Move your right hand up about 6 inches and the left hand down 6 inches (but still shoulder width apart). Bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your body down to the floor, keeping everything in a straight line. Press back up to start. Complete 5 reps in that position. Then switch your hands, placing the left hand up and right hand back for 5 more reps. If this is too challenging, lower your knees to the floor.
What’s your favorite chest or back move?