Chest workouts are essential if you desire a broad and well-defined upper body.
Although barbell lifts are great in developing those pecs, you can also achieve your desired hypertrophy and pec sculpting using just a pair of dumbbells. Moreover, dumbbells offer less risk of injury, are more versatile, and are inexpensive.
Dumbbells are a great option especially nowadays wherein home workout is becoming the norm due to recurring lockdowns brought about by the ongoing pandemic. Locked down or not, with or without a bench, dumbbells will give you a wide variety of options for chest exercises.
In this article, you’ll learn why dumbbells are so effective for chest workouts, as well as some of the best chest dumbbell exercises you can do.
Interested to know more about it? So keep reading!
Advantages of Dumbbell Chest Workout
1. Enables a Wider Range of Motion
Dumbbells allow you to get that fuller range of motion without any obstructions, stretching those muscle fibers to their limits compared to when using barbells, the bar will come into contact with your chest before your pectoral muscles have achieved a full stretch.
2. Balance Strength to Both Sides of Chest Muscles/ Pectoral Muscles
Dumbbell presses promote muscle strength equally on both sides of the arm/chest as there is no compensatory factor as such in the case of barbell presses.
There is a tendency in barbell presses to compensate for the weaker side when necessary and this is possible due to the bar supporting both sides. Dumbbells, on the other hand, are independent on each side.
3. Less Pressure on Joints = Less Injury
Dumbbells allow you to use your arms in a more natural fashion, which avoids injury to the joints. It allows you to freely move your wrists, elbows, and shoulders comfortably. Finally, this allows you to shift the load away from your joints and onto your muscles where it should be.
4. Can Be Done Even With Small Spaces
When real estate space is an issue, having dumbbells will go a long way with you in your fitness journey. It doesn’t require bulky space like barbells and other equipment to operate as well as for storage purposes.
Dumbbell Chest Exercises With Bench
1. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press
The flat dumbbell bench press should be a part of everyone’s fitness routine. It’s a great compound dumbbell exercise that works the entire chest, allowing for the heaviest load and widest range of motion, which is ideal for sculpting massive pecs.
Like most exercises, focusing on maintaining a good form while achieving the full range of motion with the weights is important. This allows the muscle fibers to stretch fully and complete their contraction to safely achieve maximum results.
If you have no bench available, you can also do this workout with a floor press.
Steps to do it
- Lie on a flat bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your feet flat on the ground.
- Hold dumbbells forming a 90-degree angle while your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Keep your palms facing outward.
- Push the dumbbells up by keeping your arms straight.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back down then up.
2. Incline Fly Press
The incline dumbbell fly is a great way to improve chest development by targeting the upper chest. The triceps stabilize the movement, while the shoulders play a supporting function.
In stretching the chest muscles, the incline fly increases scapular contraction by pressing the shoulder blades together in the back. Other than posture improvement, it can also make routine tasks easier, such as reaching for a heavier item on a high shelf.
While the flat bench fly is beneficial to the pectoralis major, the incline fly isolates the upper half of this muscle. Including both movements in your training regimen will help you get the most out of your chest workout.
Steps to do it
- Lie down on an incline bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Raise the dumbbells straight up to the ceiling then gradually allow your arms to slowly come down to the sides until it reaches your chest level while keeping your arms extended.
- Then back up, take a pause right over our shoulders, and back down slowly.
3. Dumbbell Squeeze Press/ Crush Press
In targeting the shoulders and pectoralis major in particular, the dumbbell squeeze press is one exercise routine you don’t want to skip. Depending on the rep range you choose, it’s ideal for increasing strength and muscular endurance.
Your upper back and abs muscles are also worked by the dumbbell chest squeeze press. To stabilize the body during the exercise motion, your abdominal and upper back should always be engaged.
Steps to do it
- Lie on a flat bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand, placing it close to your chest. Keep palm facing each other.
- Press the dumbbells together in the center of your chest.
- While keeping it pressed, slowly push them up to arm’s length over your chest.
- Then slowly lower it back down near your chest then up again.
Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without Bench
1. Dumbbell Floor Press
Another best dumbbell chest workout is the dumbbell floor press. It doesn’t get much better than floor presses when it comes to dumbbell-only chest exercises. Instead of using an exercise bench, this workout requires you to lie on the floor. Dumbbell floor presses can be done with both arms or one arm at a time, depending on your preference.
It has a shorter range of motion which may feel wrong at first but this makes the exercise more shoulder-friendly, especially for those recovering from injuries or having shoulder pains in the case of normal bench presses.
Steps to do it
- Lie on the floor while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your knees bent.
- Push the dumbbell straight up above your chest by keeping your arms straight. Keep your palms facing outward.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells down until your upper arms touch the floor at a 45-degree angle. Pause. Then press the weight back up again.
2. Dumbbell Deep Push-Ups
Dumbbell pushups are a good chest workout that does not require you to lift weights, rather you just use them as your pushup grips. This way, you can extend the range of motion by allowing you to lower your chest between your hands.
Steps to do it
- Get down in a push-up position with dumbbells on the floor on each hand.
- Keep your arms shoulder-width distance, your feet a little wider, and legs extended with toes on the floor. Keep your core tight.
- Slowly come down as low as possible, pause, then slowly return all the way up.
3. Dumbbell Pullover on Stability Ball
Dumbbell Pullover On Stability Ball is a basic but effective exercise. It can efficiently target your back, chest, shoulders, upper body, and upper chest when done correctly. This is a fantastic chest opener that stretches all of your chest muscle fibers.
There’s no need to go all out here, just focus on the correct form. Just be cautious when using heavy weights since you’re also controlling the stability of the ball, so you may need to anchor your feet.
If a bench is not available, using a stability ball is also great to execute other chest workouts like chest presses and flys. You will get the ideal range of motion and get the benefit of core stability.
Steps to do it
- Lean your upper back on a stability ball while holding one end of a dumbbell over your chest. Keep your arms straight, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
- While keeping your arms straight and core tight, gradually lower the dumbbell behind your head until the upper arms are parallel to the floor.
- Pause, then slowly raise the dumbbell back until your arms are vertical.
Dumbbells are an excellent option, especially since home workouts are becoming more common as a result of the continuing pandemic’s recurring lockdowns.
If you have limited space at home or don’t have a bench to work out with, no worries! You can still achieve the sculpted pecs you aim for!
Whether from the floor or the bench, dumbbells provide a wide range of chest training options including different pressing movements – chest press, floor press, and other unparalleled variabilities! You can also do an advanced dumbbell chest workout by combining different exercises and concentrating more on the decline presses.
If you like this article, you might also want to check out our other articles at ExpertFitness.org
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.