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35-Minute Chest and Back Workout (HIITStrong 35, DAY 1)

This high intensity STRENGTH workout supersets the two largest muscle groups in the upper body — the chest and back! Pairing dumbbell strength supersets with HIIT cardio (and a challenging core finisher).

This is DAY 1 of our HIITStrong 35 Full Body Workout Plan

Jump to Chest and Back Workout Outline

Back rows, chest press, push ups and dumbbell fly’s — we’re combining some of the best upper body exercises in this BACK and CHEST WORKOUT at home! 

Many chest and back workout routines are designed to be completed in a gym; fully stocked with equipment like pull up bars, barbells, cables and flat benches.

But today’s workout requires just a set of dumbbells so you can do the entire chest and back workout at home.

bird dog back row with dumbbells

Is it good to workout chest and back together?

Your back and chest are the two largest muscle groups in your upper body. Training back and chest together:

  1. Strengthens core muscles (which also improves balance, low back pain and assists with daily activities).
  2. Maximizes muscle building and calorie burn (strength training large muscle groups burns calories for hours after your workout).
  3. Combines pushing and pulling movements (functional strength training that mimics everyday movements).

There’s a reason the legendary bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, loved training chest and back together. In fact, chest and back workouts are commonly called the Schwarzenegger’s Superset Workout.

What muscles does this chest and back workout target?

This workout builds strength in the:

  • Chest Muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor)
  • Upper Back and Lower Back Muscles (latissimus dorsi, the trapezius, levator scapulae and the rhomboids)
  • Core Muscles (transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, and rectus abdominis)

Chest and Back Workout with dumbbells | Split Training Workout Plan Day 135-Minute Chest and Back Workout with Dumbbells

Grab your heavy dumbbells because you are strength training two of the largest muscle groups in this upper body workout!

This high intensity STRENGTH workout supersets the best chest exercises and back exercises with HIIT cardio bursts and core burnouts.

I suggest doing this arm workout once a week as part of a well-rounded split training workout routine.

Workout Equipment:

A medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells and optional bench.

I recommend 8-30 lbs depending on your fitness level. I’m using 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in this workout.

The Goal: The last 2-3 reps of each arm exercise should feel challenging to complete; that means you chose the right weights.

Workout Instructions:

Click here to follow along with the Chest and Back Workout video at the top of this post.

I’ll coach you through the entire workout, keeping track of the timed intervals, providing exercise form cues and exercise modifications.

Alternatively, work through the chest and back exercises below at your own pace.

The workout format:

  • 3 Circuits, repeating each circuit x3 before closing it out and moving on to the next one.
  • 2 STRENGTH Exercises and 1 CARDIO Exercise Per Circuit
  • Timed Intervals (45 seconds of work per strength exercise, followed by 15 seconds rest; and 30 seconds of work per cardio exercise, followed by 30 seconds rest).
  • 1-Minute Core Burnout Between Circuits
  • Workout Includes 5-Minute Mobility Warm-Up and 5-Minute Cool Down Stretching

reverse grip back row with weights

Chest and Back Dumbbell Workout At Home

CIRCUIT ONE:

Strength (45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest)

  1. 2 Push Ups + 2 Bear Crawl Rows
  2. Narrow Chest Press + Chest Fly Combo

Cardio (30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest)

  1. Hand Release High 10 (Half Burpees)

REPEAT X3

1 Minute Core Burnout: Dead Bug Alternating Chest Press

CIRCUIT TWO:

Strength (45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest)

  1. Bird Dog Back Row (Plank and Row, set three)
  2. 2 Reverse Grip Back Rows + 2 Standing Chest Flys

Cardio (30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest)

  1. Towel Slams

REPEAT X3

CIRCUIT THREE:

Strength + Cardio (30 seconds work, 15 seconds rest)

  1. 1 Push Up + 1 Burpee Row, Right
  2. 1 Push Up + 1 Burpee Row, Left

REPEAT X2

1 Minute Core Burnout: Plank Walk Outs

7 Best Chest Exercises and Back Exercises with Dumbbells

1. 2 Push Ups + 2 Bear Crawl Rows

Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, upper back, mid-back, abs and core muscles.

push up and bear crawl row | chest back workout at home

How to do 2 Push Ups + 2 Bear Crawl Back Rows:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on weights.
  2. Hold this plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground as your elbows fall back towards your hips (not out to the sides).
  4. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position. Repeat a second push up.
  5. Then, step or jump into bear crawl by stepping into a table top position on all fours, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, toes tucked under and knees lifted one inch off the mat. Shoulders are stacked over wrists, hips stacked over knees, maintaining a straight line with your torso while abs are engaged.
  6. Perform a single arm back row on the right arm. Pull your elbow back towards your right hip while squeezing your back.
  7. Control the dumbbell back down to the starting position. Repeat the back row on the left arm.
  8. Repeat this sequence of two push ups and two bear crawl back rows for 45 seconds.

Modification: Option to follow Rachel and take the push ups and back rows from an incline by placing your hands/weights on a chair or bench.

2. Narrow or Diamond Chest Press to Chest Fly

Targets: Chest (pecs) and shoulders (deltoids).

chest fly and diamond press | dumbbell chest exercises

How to do a Narrow Chest Press to Chest Fly:

  1. Lay flat on your back (on the ground, on a bench, or on a stability ball). Hold a dumbbell in each hand, elbows pinned at your sides, dumbbells at mid-chest point, and palms facing in toward one another. Press your feet firmly into the floor.
  2. Exhale as you press dumbbells up in a straight line, ending with your arms straight overhead, wrists over shoulders.
  3. At the top of the chest press, slowly open your arms, lowering the dumbbells in a wide arc until they reach shoulder level (or the ground). Your elbows should remain soft and not over-extended (slight bend in the elbows).
  4. Exhale as you pull the dumbbells back up and squeeze your chest muscles together. Keeping your chest puffed out and your elbows slightly bent.
  5. Lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position of your narrow chest press.
  6. Repeat this sequence of one narrow chest press and one chest fly for 45 seconds.

3. Hand Release High 10 (Half Burpees)

Targets: Total body — legs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, low back, upper body, chest, shoulders, triceps and core.

how to do half burpees with a push up | chest and back exercise

How to do a Hand Release High 10’s (Half Burpees):

  1. Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers.
  2. With control, lower your chest down to the mat, resting your stomach on the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your palms off the ground and hold for a second, then return your hands to the mat.
  3. Push up to high plank position (in one straight line from knees or toes), then step or jump your feet outside your hands.
  4. Land softly in a low squat position, bringing your hands up in front of you as if you’re giving a high five (with both hands, so a “high ten”).
  5. Plant your hands on the mat and hop or step back to high plank position.
  6. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Modification: Follow Rachel, omit the belly down to mat and rather perform a push up from an incline by placing your hands on a chair or bench.

4. Bird Dog Back Row

Targets: Upper, mid and lower back muscles (entire erector spinae), biceps, glutes, hamstrings, abs and core.

how to do a bird dog back row | dumbbell back exercise

How to do a Bird Dog Back Row:

  1. Find a quadruped position on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and hands firmly on the ground, about shoulder-width apart. Engage your core. Have one dumbbell on the ground in front of your left hand.
  2. Find a bird dog position by sending your opposite (right) leg back, floating it off the ground.
  3. Perform a single arm row with your left arm, pulling the dumbbell back toward your left hip.
  4. Repeat this movement for 45 seconds.

Modification: Follow Rachel (on the left), taking the single arm back row from a quadruped position (in tabletop position) rather than from bird dog.

5. 2 Reverse Grip Back Rows + 2 Standing Chest Flys

Targets: Both the lower back and upper back (specifically the lats and rhomboids), biceps, the chest muscles (pecs), shoulders, abs and core.

two rows two chest flys | chest and back workout with dumbbells

How to do 2 Reverse Grip Back Rows + 2 Standing Chest Flys:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent slightly.
  2. Grip a set of dumbbells, palms facing out away from the body (underhand grip).
  3. Hinge at the hips until your chest is parallel to the floor (neck in line with your spine, flat back, and belly button and rib cage pulled in).
  4. Pull the weights back towards your hips. Feel your shoulder blades squeeze together.
  5. Control the dumbbells back down to the starting position. Repeat for 2 reverse grip rows.
  6. Then, stand tall and squeeze your chest as you lift your right hand across your body (45-degree angle crossover); parallel to your left shoulder. Think “right pinky finger to left shoulder”. Palm up towards the ceiling.
  7. Keep a soft bend in your elbow as you lower the dumbbell back to starting position with control. Repeat on the left hand.
  8. Repeat this sequence of two reverse grip back rows and two standing chest fly’s for 45 seconds.

6. Towel Slams

Targets: Total body — legs, glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, calves, upper body, shoulders, back (lats), abs and core.

A great cardio exercise that also works your arms, pectorals and core (as well as your legs).

how to do towel slams

How to do Towel Slams:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a towel in both hands.
  2. Raise your heels off the ground as you fully extend your arms overhead, pulling the towel above your head.
  3. With controlled force, slam the towel onto the ground, finding the bottom of a squat position. Engage your total body as you do so. You should feel your core and arm muscles working as you slam the towel down.
  4. Then, pick the towel back up and return to standing. Again, raise your heels off the ground as you fully extend your arms back overhead.
  5. Repeat for 30 seconds.

7. 1 Push Up + 1 Burpee Row

Targets: Arms, chest, shoulders, triceps, back, biceps, abs and core.

push up burpee row

How to do a 1 Push Up + 1 Burpee Row:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your right hand on a dumbbell and left hand on the mat (option to have both hands on the floor if that’s more comfortable).
  2. Lower your chest towards the ground to perform a push up; elbows fall back towards your body.
  3. Exhale as you push back up into a high plank position.
  4. From a high plank, jump your feet up towards your hands and perform a half lift so you are hinged forward at your hips with a neutral spine (in a bent over row position).
  5. Perform a single arm dumbbell row by pulling your right elbow up to meet your rib cage.
  6. Then, with control, lower the dumbbell back to the mat and jump your feet back to high plank, returning to the starting position.
  7. Repeat, performing a row on the right arm for the entire 30 seconds. Switch sides on the next set.

Modification: Follow Rachel and take the push up from an incline by placing your hands/weight on a chair or bench to provide additional support.

HIITStrong 35: FREE Full Body Workout Plan

A 2-week, high intensity strength training program designed to help you build muscle, burn fat AND train like an athlete at home!

If you liked this chest and back workout at home, download the FREE, 2-Week Full Body Workout Plan.

HIITStrong full body workout plan

Ready for more? HIITStrong 35 Day 2: 35-Minute Leg Day: Base, Build, Power

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4 comments
  1. Loved this workout! Challenging but time flew by – thanks for another great workout series! Looking forward to the rest of the workouts!!