Workout Routines

The All-dumbbell Workout to Train Your Chest

Leave the bench-press station behind on Mondays and pound your pectorals with this dumbbell-only chest workout.

Dumbbell Chest Flye
Edgar Artiga / M+F Magazine
Edgar Artiga / M+F Magazine
Duration 30
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

In most gyms around the world, it’s a common rule of thumb that every Monday is “universal chest-training day.” There’s no real physiological reason—it’s just that after the weekend is done, lots of guys want to train the pecs first.

And because the majority of recreational lifters out there have nine-to-five jobs, the only time to get in a good session is before, or after work. While this is fine on most days, it can make things quite challenging on chest day—show up at peak hours, and you’ll find that every bench press station, Hammer press, cable and pec deck is in use. That tends to leave you with a ton of enthusiasm, but a serious lack of pec-pumping equipment.

But all is not lost, my fellow universal chest-day devotees. One piece of equipment that is almost always available on Mondays is the almighty dumbbell—and the one should never underestimate the dumbbell. This intense, chest-searing, all-dumbbell workout will have sore ‘til next Monday.

How It Works: The P/RR/S Training Method

The “Power, Rep Range, Shock” training method (P/RR/S) is a cyclical approach to lifting weights. You’ll utilize a unique training protocol every week (in 3-week cycles), with the goal of tapping into all the body’s various growth mechanisms. Each of the three weeks is meant to bring about a specific physiological effect, so your body can’t adapt to any one form of training (because adaptation eventually leads to stagnation). P/RR/S addresses muscle growth from a variety of “angles,” and allows significant progress to take place on a consistent, and long-term, basis:

  • In your power week, you’ll lift heavy weights for few reps with slow negative reps.
  • In rep range week, you’ll use a variety of rep ranges to target fast-twitch fibers.
  • In shock week, intensity techniques like supersets and dropsets take center stage to manifest the greatest possible pump.

The workout below will combine all of these methods into one grueling chest session, which is a protocol known as “Hybrid PRRS” training.

How It Works: Tempo

This workout also incorporates tempo. Tempo refers to the speed of each phase of the rep. It is expressed in seconds, with an “X” meaning “as explosively as possible.” The first number is seconds for the eccentric (negative) phase; the second number is seconds at the midpoint; the third number is seconds for the concentric (positive) phase.

For example: In a dumbbell bench press, the eccentric phase is the section when you lower the dumbbells to your chest; the midpoint is the pause when you hold the dumbbells at your chest; the concentric phase is when you press the dumbbells back up.

Bonus Tip: How to Set Your Torso for Maximum Pectoral Stimulation

  1. Lay down on the bench and set your feet firmly on the floor
  2. Arch your lower back slightly
  3. Raise your ribcage up high
  4. Squeeze your scapulae together
  5. Pull your shoulders downward and push them into the bench

The All-Dumbbell Chest Workout Pound your pectorals

Exercise 1.

Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
4-5 reps
-- rest
Tempo = 6/1/X

Exercise 2.

Incline Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Press thumbnail
2 sets
13-15, 10-12 reps
-- rest
Set bench to 30 degrees; Tempo = 2/0/1

Exercise 3.

Incline Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Press thumbnail
2 sets
10-12, 7-9 reps
-- rest
Set bench to 30 degrees; Tempo = 3/0/1

Exercise 4A.

Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
2 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest
Tempo = 3/1/1

Exercise 4B.

Dumbbell Pullover You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Pullover thumbnail
2 sets
7-9 reps
-- rest
Tempo = 3/1/1