An excellent way to develop the pectoral muscle group is through proper isolation. While power movements like the traditional bench press are foundationally important, dumbbell exercises performed with isolation are equally beneficial in the development of the pectoral muscles. Dumbbells provide the opportunity to approach different angles that affect the pectorals from origin to insertion in a way that places precise stress on the muscles. It is also a way to engage the pecs while working around shoulder injuries because of the flexibility of the positioning of the dumbbells grips.
Dumbbell Presses and Flyes
Dumbbell presses mimic the overall motion of a traditional bench press while allowing hand variations that alter the contraction of the muscle as the pressing motion is executed. Dumbbell flyes give the pecs a deep stretch, pulling the muscle’s attachments from the sternum, creating the microtears that provide growth for the muscle as it recovers during rest and recovery. The movements of presses and flyes with dumbbells can also be performed at different bench angles such as flat bench, decline bench and incline bench. This also alters the stress on the muscles and tendons, addressing multiple areas of the pectoral muscles. Every repetition should be performed slowly, feeling the contraction of the muscle in the positive, static and negative motions. That is, you should feel the contraction as you press and ascend the dumbbells, then as you hold the executed press for a brief second, and finally as you descend the dumbbells downward, allowing the pecs to open up and stretch. Another way of altering the positive motion is to turn your hands to an inverted hand position at the top of the press. So, as you press, your palms are facing away from your head until you reach the top and twist your hands inward with your palms facing toward your head.
Here is an example of a pectoral dumbbell workout that I would perform for excellent isolation of the pecs using a weight in which I am able to handle cleanly for 10 repetitions, with the 10th rep approaching the brink of failure:
Decline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets x 10 reps
Flat Bench Dumbbell Press – 3 sets x 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets x 10 reps
Decline Dumbbell Flye – 3 sets x 10 reps
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flye – 3 sets x 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Flye – 3 sets x 10 reps