You miiight not consider chest and triceps workouts top priority (leg day is so satisfying, we get it), but they definitely deserve more love.
Though they’re often overlooked, your chest muscles (a.k.a. pectorals) play a huge role in your ability to stand proud and tall. Yup, a strong chest equals better posture. The benefits of working your chest muscles don’t end there, though. Another major perk: Strengthening your chest means strengthening the rest of your upper body (think arms and back), too.
Plus, your triceps are your secondary movers for all types of exercises that fire up your chest—pushups, included—so it’s pretty much impossible to work your chest without lighting up the backs of your arms, too. Perks on perks, amiright?
This chest and triceps workout is designed to challenge your upper body with a variety of different movements in different positions. You’ll also mix things up by using your body weight, a resistance band, and dumbbells—and incorporate some unilateral (a.k.a. single-side) moves to build balanced strength.
You can either perform this workout two or three times a week on its own—or plug-and-play any of these exercises into full-body workouts if that’s more your style.
Equipment needed: dumbbells, resistance band
Time: 25 minutes
Instructions: Perform each exercise below in order. Complete the indicated number of reps and then continue to the next move, resting as needed. Once you’ve completed all eight exercises, rest for one minute, then repeat the entire circuit twice more for a total of three rounds.
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Lying Dumbbell Chest Fly
How to: Lie on back with knees bent and feet planted. Hold a light to moderate dumbbell in each hand and rest elbows on floor at sides at a 45-degree angle from ribs. This is your starting position. Pressing back into floor, engage core, exhale and draw hands together above chest as if hugging a giant beach ball. With control, reverse the movement until elbows return to floor. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15.
Pro tip: As you get stronger, straighten your elbows to widen your fly and increase the challenge.
Overhead Triceps Extension
How to: Start standing, gripping one dumbbell with both hands, and lift the weight overhead, arms straight, feet hip-width apart. Keeping upper arms by your ears and hands at the top of the bar, bend elbows to lower the weights slowly behind your head. Pause, then straighten arms, returning to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15 reps.
Pro tip: Keep gaze forward and head as still as possible.
How to: Start in a high plank position with hands beneath shoulders. Engage core, keep shoulder blades down back, and bend elbows to lower body down in one long line from head to heels at once. (Elbows should extend away from sides at 45-degree angles.) When upper arms are parallel with floor, press straight back up to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15.
Pro tip: Take pressure off wrists by distributing weight across entire hand. If needed, start with incline pushups instead of full pushups.
How to: Start in a high plank position, but with hands directly beneath chest instead of shoulders. Bend elbows straight back towards feet to lower body toward floor, keeping upper arms close to sides. Press back up to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15.
Pro tip: This pushup variation puts more emphasis on your triceps, so feel free to drop down to your knees as you build strength.
How to: Lie on back with legs lifted and knees bent so shins are parallel with floor. Hold one medium dumbbell between both hands by the ends with arms extended straight up towards ceiling. Engage core so back presses into floor. This is your starting position. Pull arms back to a 45-degree angle and then bend elbows to lower dumbbell to floor above head. With control, reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15.
Pro tip: If ribs flare out, engage core more.
Dumbbell Floor Press
How to: Lie on back with knees bent and feet placed flat on the ground, about a foot from butt. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend arms up over shoulders, palms facing toward each other. This is your start position. With control, bend arms and lower them to sides until triceps touch the floor (dumbbells will still be raised over wrists). Elbows should form a 45-degree angle with the body. Slowly reverse the movement and return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15.
Pro tip: Keep neck long and lower back pressed into floor.
Single-Arm Deadbug Press
How to: Lie on back with legs lifted and knees bent so shins are parallel with floor. Extend left arm straight up toward ceiling (palm facing inward) and hold a dumbbell in right hand with elbow resting on floor about 45 degrees away from ribs. This is your start position. Engage core to keep entire back connected to floor, then extend right arm to press dumbbell straight up toward ceiling. Once right arm is fully-extended, slowly bend at elbow and lower weight back down to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15 on each side.
How to: Start seated in a chair and grip the front edges with both hands. Scoot butt forward until it’s hovering just off the seat and legs form 90-degree angles. Straighten arms. This is your start position. Lower body down until elbows form 90-degree angles. Engage the back of your arms to press back to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15.
Pro tip: Elbows should point straight back throughout the movement instead of flaring out.
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