When strength training to improve performance and sidestep injury, it’s easy to forget about the importance of targeting your upper body.

Cyclists prioritize lower body and core strength, which makes sense. The primary muscles utilized during a ride are of the legs, glutes, and core after all. But it’s equally important to work your upper body and maintain a well-balanced strength routine, says Lindsey Clayton, senior instructor at Barry’s in New York City, cofounder of Brave Body Project, and the expert behind this chest and triceps workout.

The Benefits of a Chest and Triceps Workout

In the long run, it might be your upper body strength that helps you sustain those last few miles of your workout, especially if the legs are fatigued. Having a strong chest is crucial for good posture and core stability, as this can bolster your speed and efficiency while you ride.

That’s why you want to incorporate these upper body exercises into your routine at least once a week—twice is even better.

How to use this list: Perform these exercises as two circuits, the first focusing on the three chest exercises and the second, the three triceps exercises. Do the first circuit for 3 sets before moving onto the second, and performing another 3 sets. Do each exercise for 12 to 15 reps, limiting rest between exercises.

You need a set of dumbbells for this workout, and an exercise mat is optional. Clayton demonstrates each exercise in the video above so you can learn proper form.

Chest Circuit

1. Chest Press

chest and triceps workout, chest press
Lindsey Clayton

Lie faceup on the floor or on a bench, knees bent and feet planted. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing away from body, weights over chest with arms straight. With control, bend elbows about 45 degrees away from torso, lowering the weights toward chest. Pause, then press back up. Repeat.

2. Closed-Grip Chest Press

chest and triceps workout, closed grip chest press
Lindsey Clayton

Lie faceup on the floor or on a bench, knees bent and feet planted. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other and dumbbells pressed together, arms straight over chest. With control, bend elbows and lower weights down toward chest, keeping dumbbells together. Pause, then press back up. Repeat.

3. Chest Fly

chest and triceps workout, chest fly
lindsey clayton

Lie faceup on the floor or on a bench, knees bent and feet planted. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other and weights together. Slowly open arms out to sides, keeping a slight bend in elbows, and lower weights to floor. Once wrists are in line with the chest, press weights back up and together. Repeat.

Triceps Circuit

4. Skull Crusher

chest and triceps workout, skull crusher
Lindsey Clayton

Lie faceup with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend arms above chest. Slowly bend elbows to lower dumbbells down toward the top of the head, keeping elbows over shoulders. Press weights back up, extending elbows. Repeat.

5. Alternating Triceps Kickback

chest and triceps workout, alternating triceps kickback
Lindsey Clayton

Start on all fours with knees hip-width apart, shoulders over wrists and knees under hips. Place each hand on a dumbbell. Keeping back straight, pull the right dumbbell back and up toward chest so triceps are aligned with back and elbow is close to side. Straighten right arm to bring the dumbbell back behind you. Pause to contract the triceps, then re-bend the elbow, and lower the weight back down to the floor. Repeat on left side. Continue alternating.

6. Kneeling Overhead Tricep Extension

chest and triceps workout, overhead triceps extension
Lindsey Clayton

Start in a kneeling position. Holding a dumbbell with both hands, lift arms directly overhead, arms straight. Bend elbows to lower weight behind head. Pause, then straighten arms to contract triceps. Repeat.

From: Runner's World US
Headshot of Monique Lebrun
Monique Lebrun

Monique LeBrun joined the editorial staff in October 2021 as the associate health and fitness editor. She has a master’s degree in journalism and has previously worked for ABC news and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.