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sealturkey

How to isolate chest muscles with dumbbell bench press.

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I workout at home with bodyweight and dumbbell exercises. Whenever I do a few sets of dumbbell bench press' I only feel it in my biceps and triceps. They are always the first thing to give when I am doing that exercise. I.e, they fail first so I cannot do any more reps. I only feel a slight tightness in my chest, but no burning like my arms. The morning after I only feel the ache in my biceps and triceps as well, and none in my chest. What am I doing wrong?

I've never really worked out my chest before, so maybe there is such little muscle that there's not enough for it to ache?

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I rarely do dumbbell work but I would try to get as much range of motion as you can.

You can also try DB flyes/flies. Around the worlds (?) And pullovers to get some chest work with dumbbells

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Dumbbell presses asks for a lot of multidirectional stabilization work from your arms. Chances are, the weight you're handling right now is easy peasy for your chest but is the limit for your arms.

 

If you really want to hit your chest hard, use a barbell. Otherwise, at least take comfort in the fact that you know you have strong arms when you do hit the point that you feel the burn in your chest instead.

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Dumb bell flies are the best option for dumb bell oriented chest work.  Another option is dips.  Probably still a lot more of your arms than you want, but will also work the chest.  Otherwise, Rafcardeno's reccomendation for the barbell is your other option.  Going the barbell route may change all of your training, though.  It did for me.

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If you're really trying to target the chest use bench press or dips.  Add weight to the dips if you can.  Anything with a dumbell is more or less considered supplementary exercise.

 

Don't get me wrong, people can build a whole program (sucessfully) around dumbells.  But barbells with big compound moves are by far the most efficient means to gain strength/mass.

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If you're really trying to target the chest use bench press or dips. Add weight to the dips if you can. Anything with a dumbell is more or less considered supplementary exercise.

Don't get me wrong, people can build a whole program (sucessfully) around dumbells. But barbells with big compound moves are by far the most efficient means to gain strength/mass.

Dips I completely agree with but in regards to building mass powerlifting barbell bench definitely hasn't added any mass to my chest. I think DBs or bodybuilding bench probably adds more mass

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DB work to target your chest takes some work. (As you said, it's really easy to fatigue your arms, first.)

 

It could be that your bis/tris are weak enough that you actually can't  target your chest with the weight you're using.

 

It could be that you have a terrible mind/muscle connection to your pecs. Since you've never really trained them before, learning to actually fire your pecs when you want to is a skill to be learned.

 

Some things to try:

Do dumbbell flyes before your DB press. This could help "wake up" your pecs during the flyes. Once you know "where they are," do a couple sets of DB press and try to fire the same muscles that got fatigued during the flyes.

 

When doing DB press, adjust the angle of your upper arms compared to your torso. Tucked close to your sides vs flared a bit wider will target things differently. Be careful of your shoulders and don't flare too wide.

 

Can you flex your pec just sitting around? Put the fingers of one hand on the opposite side of your chest and try to flex the muscle. Again, learning  how to flex/fire that muscle will help you actually feel them working during DB press.

 

Good luck. I had the same problem for awhile. Frustrating for sure. With a combination of the above steps (plus just getting stronger), I fixed it. You can, too!

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When you are doing the dumbbell flyes (http://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/dumbbell-flys.html), really try and concentrate on using your chest to pull your arms up. It helped me to think about it this way... When you lower the dumbbells and your arms are opened up,squeeze your chest to pull the weights in toward your body, do not actually pull your arms in, just tighten up the chest. Then keep that tension on your chest and use it to lift the weight. Obviously your arms will be doing a lot of the work, but if you concentrate, you will feel it the next day.

 

Also, you might want to add some wide stance pushups to your warm up and/or between sets and see if you feel those help engage your chest.

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He starts the video by explaining how to engage your pecs on a barbell press but after about a minute he goes into dumbbells.

 

I (and a lot of others) consider Ben one of the top experts in the world in building muscle because he teaches exactly how to contract a muscle. A very underrated skill. Hope this helps.

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You have a video where he talks more about the idea of intention? I have exectly the issue he talks about with my bench, so much of the load is on triceps and I get elbow issues. If I could recruit the pecs more, while still using the same competition grip width, that would help me a lot, and I think help build my bench better.

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He starts the video by explaining how to engage your pecs on a barbell press but after about a minute he goes into dumbbells.

 

I (and a lot of others) consider Ben one of the top experts in the world in building muscle because he teaches exactly how to contract a muscle. A very underrated skill. Hope this helps.

 

 

So, potentially stupid question...

 

In the video he starts out saying that to work the chest you want a wider grip...

post-32153-0-03163900-1413387296_thumb.p

 

 

but then at the end of the video he is saying that you really need to squeeze the chest, and bring the elbows together, which ends up being a close grip...

post-32153-0-75652400-1413387313_thumb.p

 

 

Which is it, or am I just being dense?

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So, potentially stupid question...

 

In the video he starts out saying that to work the chest you want a wider grip...

attachicon.gifScreen shot 2014-10-15 at 10.30.20 AM.png

 

 

but then at the end of the video he is saying that you really need to squeeze the chest, and bring the elbows together, which ends up being a close grip...

attachicon.gifScreen shot 2014-10-15 at 10.32.07 AM.png

 

 

Which is it, or am I just being dense?

 

The wider grip is where you grip the bar, which doesn't change throughout the movement. THe rest of the video is talking about where you initiate the movement from. His cues are meant to get you use your chest to roatate your elbows toward each other rather than focusing on pushing the bar up. By thinking of the movement differently, yuo're firing muscles differently, which will bring you chest more into the movement if you use his cues. The grip on teh barbell is in the same place.

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You have a video where he talks more about the idea of intention? I have exectly the issue he talks about with my bench, so much of the load is on triceps and I get elbow issues. If I could recruit the pecs more, while still using the same competition grip width, that would help me a lot, and I think help build my bench better.

 

 

He talks a little more in depth about intention here. Intention is essentially just intentional tension on a muscle group versus just doing the movement and hoping it works x muscle group. He takes the guesswork out of it. Any cue I've followed of his instantly causes me to contract the correct muscle.

 

So, potentially stupid question...

 

In the video he starts out saying that to work the chest you want a wider grip...

attachicon.gifScreen shot 2014-10-15 at 10.30.20 AM.png

 

 

but then at the end of the video he is saying that you really need to squeeze the chest, and bring the elbows together, which ends up being a close grip...

attachicon.gifScreen shot 2014-10-15 at 10.32.07 AM.png

 

 

Which is it, or am I just being dense?

 

It's both. The part of the video you're referencing he's explaining how to do a dumbbell press. You basically just need to do the movement as shown.

 

If you want to apply it to the barbell bench then it's as Gainsdalf said. It's more of a cue than actually moving your arms. All you need to do is apply an inward force with your arms to activate your chest.

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I light up my chest a lot harder on floor press than I ever get on the bench, both with dumbbells and a barbell. Taking the bottom out of the movement and putting a dead stop just above where the shoulders have stopped pushing forces your chest to do all the work getting the weight moving. I find keeping my wrists at about 45 degrees makes the best pump with dumbbells, but obviously heavier weights can be thrown around with a bar.

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My friend found that the BB aggravated his shoulder, but the DBs did not, so we've been doing DB bench for several months.  My biggest issue with doing dumbbell bench, that I am starting to run into is going up in weight.  My gym has a good range of weights, but they are 5lb increments.  I don't think I've seen smaller increments without the "build your own" dumbbell sets, so I'm not surprised.  Going up 10 lbs each time is tough.  I'm going to move over to the Barbell next time and he can keep doing DBs.

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He was probably flaring his elbows too much on bench. If he wants to go back to BBs at all, tell him to narrow his grip and keep his elbows more tucked.

 

Progressing with big jumps is just about progressing reps first. build up to 8 reps before jumping in weight and starting at 5 again.

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He was probably flaring his elbows too much on bench. If he wants to go back to BBs at all, tell him to narrow his grip and keep his elbows more tucked.

 

Progressing with big jumps is just about progressing reps first. build up to 8 reps before jumping in weight and starting at 5 again.

That is what we'd been doing (with increasing reps before making the jump).  I'd still like to be on the same page as most others so that I can compare my progress (and submit my entry to the leader board :) )

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