We love the barbell bench press as much as you do, but just because you’ve been doing it every Monday night since high school doesn’t mean you can’t change it up every once in a while. Pressing with dumbbells is safer for your shoulders and activates more pectoral muscle, which means more focused training directly on your chest. Plus, at times when a home or hotel gym is all you have access to, dumbbells are the best weapon you’ve got. Follow this routine for four weeks, and we bet you’ll add as much as another quarter inch to your chest.
How it works
Dumbbells don’t let you go as heavy as barbells, so don’t fight it—instead, follow this workout, which focuses on higher reps and keeping the muscles under constant tension so they work to exhaustion. Dumbbells also let you train your muscles through a larger range of motion—pressing with a barbell cuts you off a few inches short—and they correct strength imbalances between sides. If you find yourself in a gym so bare bones that the dumbbells you have still aren’t heavy enough to provide enough challenge, simply perform your reps more slowly. In your race for bigger gains, slow and steady sometimes is the fastest path.
Perform the workout once per week, resting at least a day before and after any shoulder training. Exercises marked “A,” “B,” and “C” are done in sequence, so you’ll perform one set of each without rest in between.