When you’re just beginning a strength training routine weight machines are an excellent option to help you build a solid foundation. However, as you continue to progress you should begin to substitute some of those machine exercises with dumbbell exercises to help build additional overall strength and balance.[i]
If you’re just beginning weight training, use the links below to get started with machines.
If you’ve been keeping up with our Weight Machines 101 series and you’re ready to move on to dumbbells, then check out our first segment of Dumbbells 101- Chest Exercises.
Both weight training machines and dumbbell exercises have their advantages. Once you have developed a solid foundation of strength and proper form using machines, dumbbells are a great way to incorporate more of your stabilizing muscles.[ii]
Now, let’s introduce you to dumbbell weight training with some Chest Exercises!
Dumbbell Chest Press – Flat, Incline and Decline
- Position dumbbells to the sides of your chest with your arms bent; the dumbbells should be positioned directly over your elbows.
- Press or push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended; bring the dumbbells together at the top until they are about an inch apart.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to an angle that is slightly past 90 degrees.
TOP TIP: Avoid knocking the dumbbells together at the top of the lift, as this can throw off your form.
TOP TIP: Concentrate on controlling the weight on the way down during the lift. This part of the lift is known as the “eccentric” portion and is just as important for strength and muscle development as it is for safety.
Dumbbell Fly – Flat, Decline and Incline
- Start with dumbbells directly above your chest with your arms extended out.
- Slowly extend your arms away from your body with a very slight bend in your elbows as if you are a bird trying to “fly.” It is very important that you control the weight on the way down during this lift to prevent injuries and to make sure you are keeping proper form.
- Bring your arms back in to your initial position directly above your chest with your arms extended out.
TOP TIP: Keep the isolation of this lift on your chest muscles and not your biceps. If you are feeling more fatigued in your biceps you are probably bending your elbows too much.
TOP TIP: Think of the action as being similar to giving a bear hug.
TOP TIP: Take this lift extra slow (especially if it’s your first time.)
These dumbbell chest exercises will help you incorporate more core stability and will create additional variety in your workouts. Soon you will be feeling the difference in your body and reaching new personal records!
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