How to Do a Chest and Back Workout with Dumbbells

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is what you need to do...
Step 1

The chest and back are two big muscle groups that typically require a lot of different exercise variations in order to be developed and grown. However, it isn't anywhere near impossible for you to get both of these body parts worked with only a set of dumbbells. In the following steps, I'll show you how to masterfully go through a dumbbell-only chest and back workout that leaves you with a great pump and a lot of incoming gains.

Step 2

In order to do a sufficient chest and back workout with just dumbbells, the key ingredient is speed. We will be doing supersets throughout the workout, and between these supersets you're going to have to focus on moving from one exercise to another with a quick flow. Before we get started, i'll let you know that for the chest portion it will help to get a yoga mat. I recommend Gaiam Sol Dry-Grip Yoga Mat, which does a great job of keeping your body comfortable and helping you focus more on the workout and less on the hard ground.

Step 3

The first superset we'll be going after is: bent over two arm dumbbell rows, flat dumbbell bench press. Doing the bent over two arm dumbbell rows will open your back up early to a good amount of weight and work. You'll be stretching your back out for the lifts ahead, and pumping blood into it to get those muscles working. This exercise should be done with maximum effort, and you should already feel tired when it's done. As soon as you finish your set of bent over two arm dumbbell rows, you should lay down on your yoga mat and go right into flat dumbbell bench presses. Like the exercise it's paired with, the flat dumbbell bench press will both stretch out and pump blood into the muscle Your chest will be ready to work from the first part of the superset, so don't hold back on the energy you expend in this exercise. Both of these movements are large, and they will cause the muscles to get toned and gain mass. Perform this superset for 4 sets of 8-10 reps.

Step 4

Next is going to be one arm dumbbell rows and one arm dumbbell bench presses. One arm dumbbell rows might seem exactly the same as the two armed version, but they aren't. Doing this exercise with one arm at a time will allow you to focus on contracting your back to its peak ability, which will help with overall definition in the back muscles. Again, as soon as the one arm dumbbell rows are done, drop down for the one arm dumbbell bench presses. Similarly to its paired exercise, the one arm dumbbell bench press will allow you to focus greatly on the movement and contraction of each side of your chest individually. This will let you pump up the width of your chest in an excellent way, and will promote a lot of size gain. Perform this superset for 3 sets of 10-15 reps with each arm.

Step 5

Lastly, you'll be switching up the order of the muscle groups and starting with chest. This superset will consist of pushups and reverse dumbbell flies. For the pushups, hold your hands on the dumbbells instead of placing your hands on the ground. This will force you to exert extra energy to keeping your balance, which will help the overall growth of your chest. For reverse flies, keep your speed up and focus on contracting the middle back as much as possible. This will bring a lot of toning and shredding to your back muscles, which is always a plus. The reason the muscle groups are flipped now is because the pushups will cause your back and your chest to work, and the flys will help your chest stretch a bit while your back gets some finishing touches. Perform this superset for 3 sets of 15-25 reps.

Step 6

And there you have it! Hopefully you'll walk away from this workout with a bit of sweat on your forehead and a lot of pump in your chest and back. The exercises above are woven together in order for your body to gain size, and shred the muscles. You'll feel a lot of work get done- and the best part is that all you'll need are a couple of dumbbells (although having the yoga mat definitely won't hurt).

Special Attention

Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, the only real difficulty for this kind of a workout is the speed at which you do it. If you find yourself slacking off and looking at your phone a lot, you'll walk away without feeling like you got much out of the workout. On the other hand, if you punch through this workout at full-speed, taking as little time between sets as possible, you will walk away feeling great and looking even better. So focus and get the Thing done.

Stuff You'll Need

Brand Product Price
Gaiam Sol Dry-Grip Yoga Mat (5mm) No Price

Suggested Further Reading

This Student Author

This Student Author's Background

Funny or interesting story about this topic...

I injured my ankle really badly one year and was constrained to using crutches all the time for about a month and a half. There was no way I could go to the gym during this time, wobbling around on my crutches in between moving iron...bad recipe. So I stayed home, where I had in my basement a modest little set of dumbbells and a few other exercise related odds and ends. In that basement I had to figure out how to work my entire body with the little bit that I had (not to forget that I had a bum ankle). During the period I was on crutches I spent a lot of time devising the perfect exercises, which I am now more than happy to pass on to you. And if I could do it with a bad ankle, you can definitely do it with a healthy one.

When did you first do this & how did you get started?

L first started dumbbell-only exercises when I was younger. I never did them often, because I always had access to other types of machines and equipment. When I hurt my ankle, though, I had to rely on dumbbell-only workouts. Luckily I was able to gather together the corners of my knowledge and create a completely workable and very helpful set of routines. I hope your chest and back benefit from this one- mine certainly did. Lift on, brothers


Other Tips from Jeremy