Dumbbell Chest Workout: Ultimate Workout Guide to a Rock-Solid Chest

By guardian-elite
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We often think of the chest in terms of being one singular muscle, (Spoiler alert: It’s a little more complicated than that) and the only way to build the chest, is to go straight to a flat bench, load up a barbell and bench press over and over. Bench press is effective, for sure. But there is a different way. Try a dumbbell chest workout and open your eyes to a whole new way of building out every area of your chest using this intense dumbbell chest workout.

Dumbbell Chest Workout at Home
Dumbbell Chest Workout Without Bench
Complete Dumbbell Chest Workout On Floor
Dumbbell Chest Workout For Mass
Dumbbell Upper Chest Workout
Dumbbell Inner Chest Workout
Dumbbell Lower Chest Workout
Outer Chest Dumbbell Workout
Dumbbell Chest Workout Routine
Single Dumbbell Chest Workout
Single Dumbbell Chest Workout Routine

Dumbbell Chest Workout at Home

When it comes to weight training at home, there really is no substitute for a solid pair of adjustable dumbbells.Why?Dumbbells don’t take up a ton of space and you can basically perform any weight training workout you’d ever need to do. No gym membership required.This is especially true with a dumbbell chest workout at home.If you don’t yet have the right equipment, then step one would be to get the gear you need. Below is our recommendation for several different adjustable dumbbell sets, along with an incline weight bench.With these two items, you can complete a killer dumbbell chest workout. Not only that, but many other weight training exercises too. They really are worth the investmentUsing dumbbells as opposed to a standard barbell for these exercises will allow you to indirectly work the shoulders, triceps and core

The reason for this is because using dumbbells requires and allows for a greater range of motion when performing any exercise.

Each arm is responsible for holding and balancing the weight of the dumbbell, so additional muscle fibers are used for stability reasons.

Dumbbells are a great tool for building out your chest, but it’s not the only way. Check out our other post on the Best Chest Exercises to Get Ripped for a full run down on everything you need to know.

Dumbbell Chest Workout Without Bench

If you just want to go with the adjustable dumbbell set and no bench for now, then we have you covered. You can still get a great dumbbell chest workout at home without a bench. Here are the best dumbbell chest workout on floor only.
Dumbbell Chest Exercises on Floor
Bridged Floor Press

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How to do it:

Lie on your back, with a dumbbell in each hand.
Bend both legs at the knee until they are at a 90 degree angle to the ground.
Activate your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips off the floor, pressing both feet into the ground.
Lift the dumbbells off your chest and squeeze at the top of the movement.
Slowly lower both dumbbells back to your chest, while keeping your hips elevated.

Why It Works:

The bridged press is a great way to work not only the chest but some lower body too. Your body is in a decline position, which will hit more lower chest, while also engaging the core, glutes and hamstrings.

Dumbbell Floor Fly

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How to do it:

Lie flat on the floor, with legs bent at the knees.
Extend both dumbbells overhead, with elbows slightly bent. (No lock-out)
Palms should be facing each other. Lower both weights in a half-circle or arch motion.
Elbows should touch the floor.
Move the dumbbells back up toward the start position in the arch, as if your are hugging a tree.
Squeeze the pecs together as the dumbbells reach the top of the movement.

Why It Works:

The fly is a staple dumbbell chest workout. Doing the dumbbell floor fly takes some of the risk away since the floor is acting as your spotter for the weight.

The fly will stretch and flex the outer pec muscles.

Alternating Chest Dumbbell Press

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How to do it:

Lie with back on the floor and legs bent at the knee. Feet are planted flat on the ground.
Dumbbells should be extended overhead with palms facing inward.
Lower each dumbbell independent of the other and alternating right and left.
Squeeze the chest with each rep.

Why It Works:

The standard dumbbell floor press is good for working the upper pecs, but adding an alternating variation adds an extra challenge since you are having to stabilize one arm while moving the other arm.

Close Grip Chest Dumbbell Press

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How to do it:

Start with back and feet flat on the floor.
Legs should be bent at the knee.
Hold both dumbbells together, with palms facing inward. Dumbbells should be at the center of your chest.
Squeeze the chest together as you lift the dumbbells together at the same time.
Keep the dumbbells close together and over the center of the chest throughout the exercise.

Why It Works:

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The close grip chest press will work to squeeze the inner pecs, while also engaging the triceps. Slowly pushing the weight while focusing on squeezing the pecs together will enhance the movement.

Straight Arm Pullover

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How to do it:

Lie on the floor, feet flat and legs bent at the knee.
Hold the dumbbell either standing on end or with both hands gripping each side, horizontally.
Keeping the arms extended up above your chest, slowly lower the dumbbell in an arching motion, until the dumbbell is behind your head.
Pause, then slowly move the dumbbell following the same arc back up to the start position.

Why It Works:

The dumbbell pullover is a unique exercise that will stretch the upper chest while also hitting the upper back muscles as well.

The dumbbell pullover also requires greater stability to hold and move the weight. This causes the core and glutes to engage as well.

45-Degree Dumbbell Floor Press

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How to do it:

Lie flat on your back, feet planted firmly on the floor. Legs bent at the knees.
Hold the dumbbells in the standard press position.
Instead of the arms being extended at a 90-degree angle to your torso, only extend them halfway, or 45-degrees.
Perform the normal dumbbell press.

Why It Works:

The 45-degree floor press will hold the same benefits of the normal floor press, but using the 45-degree angle, you’ll be hitting a slightly different part of the upper and outer pec muscle.

Complete Dumbbell Chest Workout On Floor

Using the six different dumbbell chest workouts above, you can put together a dumbbell chest workout routine using the floor only.

This is still a great way to get a chest workout at home, even when there is not a bench available.

No dumbbells or bench? You’re still in luck. Try out our Best Push-Up Workout to Smoke Your Chest. We’ll show you the best push-up variations to get in a great chest workout.

Dumbbell Chest Workout For Mass

Now to the main part of this dumbbell chest workout. These exercises will focus on hitting the inner, outer, upper and lower chest areas, so you can build out a full and well-rounded chest.

It’s easy to focus on only a handful of different movements. In reality, the chest is more than just the pecs.Making sure to challenge and build out each area will ensure you get the results you want.

Dumbbell Upper Chest Workout
Arnold Chest Press

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How to do it:

Using a flat bench, lie down flat
Extend arms out above your body with palms facing your feet
As you lower the dumbbells down toward your chest, rotate your wrists.
Your palms should be facing toward your own face at the very bottom of the movement
Squeeze your chest as you slowly return the dumbbells to their starting position following the same movement in reverse

Why It Works:

The original Arnold Press was meant more as a shoulder and delt movement, to be done sitting upright.

Using this for the chest acts as a variation of the standard dumbbell bench press, but by rotating the wrists, you will be using some deltoid muscle too.

Flat or Slight Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

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How to do it:

Use a flat bench or an adjustable bench set at 15 degrees ( or the smallest incline)
Use an overhand grip on the dumbbells and hold them slightly more than shoulder width apart and above the shoulders.
Elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle and the triceps should be parallel to the ground
Slowly push the dumbbells up and bring the dumbbells together. Squeeze the chest at the top.
Lower the dumbbells slowly to their starting position.

Why It Works:

No other chest exercise will help to build upper body strength more than the bench press. Using dumbbells for the chest press instead of a barbell will recruit additional stabilizer muscles to hold and balance the weight.

Another benefit is lengthening of the muscle fibers and increased range of motion over the normal barbell.

This can help with injury prevention, since you are developing these smaller stabilizing muscles that you would not normally hit using a barbell for a bench press.

Alternate Single Arm Incline Dumbbell Press

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How to do it:

Set the bench at a 45 degree angle
Dumbbells should start overhead and over the chest, with palms facing away
Lower one dumbbell while keeping the other in the start position
Drive the single dumbbell from the chest back to the start position. Squeeze the chest at the top
When one side is back at the start, over the chest, lower the other dumbbell and repeat

Why It Works:

We outlined the benefits for the alternating floor dumbbell press already, and the bench version is no different.

As before, the standard dumbbell bench press is good working the upper pecs, but adding an alternating variation adds an extra challenge since you are having to stabilize one arm while moving the other arm.

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Dumbbell Inner Chest Workout
Close Grip Squeeze Press

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How to do it:

Start by lying on the flat or slightly inclined bench with feet flat on the floor
A dumbbell in each hand, palms should be facing each other
Both dumbbells should start over the center of the chest and can be touching each other
Drive both dumbbells up until the arms are fully extended, but not locked out
Squeeze the chest at the top and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the start position

Why It Works:

Benefits of the close grip dumbbell squeeze press is that not only will the placement of the dumbbells cause you to squeeze the pecs together and engage the inner pec, but the triceps are used as well.

This triceps work is caused by the locking out of the elbows at the top pf the movement. Another benefit is this lift will take stress off of the shoulders caused by a wider grip.

Fly-Press

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How to do it:

Using either a flat bench or an incline, start with dumbbells overhead and above the chest
Palms should be facing each other with dumbbells close to touching
Lower the dumbbells in an arching movement until you feel a slight pull at the pec muscle
Bring the dumbbells back to the top using the same arching movement. Squeeze the chest at the top.
Rotate the wrists until your palms are facing away from you
Lower the dumbbells in a standard press movement until your upper arm is parallel to the ground
Raise the dumbbells back slowly to the start position and again squeeze the chest at the top.
Rotate the wrists again so they face each other and repeat

Why It Works:

This is a great combo exercise that will hit multiple areas of the chest as it combines a dumbbell fly with a dumbbell press in the same movement. The trick is to control the weight and focus on form.

The lower the bench incline the less active the shoulders will be during the lift. A slight bench incline is recommended.

Dumbbell Lower Chest Workout
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

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How to do it:

With dumbbells in each hand, using an overhand grip, lay back on the decline bench
Keep the dumbbells at your chest as you lay back for balance
Press the dumbbells up above your chest, lock out and squeeze the chest at the top
Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the chest
The handles of the dumbbells should be even with your chest

Why It Works:

Building out the lower region of the pectoral muscle is harder to do and often neglected, but the decline bench press is a perfect way to hit this lower area of the pec.

Hitting these often missed muscle fibers in the lower pec will help to increase your overall chest strength.

Outer Chest Dumbbell Workout
Reverse Incline Dumbbell Press

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How to do it:

Use an adjustable bench at a 45 degree incline
Hold dumbbells with palms facing toward you and slightly shoulder more than shoulder width apart
Elbows should be at a 45 degree angle to your torso
Push the dumbbells up while rotating the palms to face away from you
The dumbbells should meet over the center of your chest. Squeeze the chest at the top
Slowly lower the dumbbells to start while rotating the wrists again

Why It Works:

The reverse incline dumbbell press will hit the outer and upper pectoral areas of the chest. As you incline the bench further, the more it will engage the upper pecs. This dumbbell exercise can really be used interchangeably for upper and outer pecs.

Incline Fly-Press

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How to do it:

Lie on an incline bench, raised no more than 45 degrees
Extend both dumbbells overhead, with elbows slightly bent. (No lock-out)
Palms should be facing each other. Lower both weights in a half-circle or arch motion.
Elbows should lower slightly past the torso or until you feel a stretch
Move the dumbbells back up toward the start position in the arch, as if your are hugging a tree.
Squeeze the pecs together as the dumbbells reach the top of the movement.

Why It Works:

The fly is probably the best exercise to isolate the upper chest area of the pec. Make sure to move slowly through the movement to avoid injury and focus on form more than heavier weight.

Dumbbell Chest Workout Routine

We’ve now covered all of the dumbbell chest workout exercises. These 9 different dumbbell movements will work the chest through all of the different areas of muscle you’ll need to hit in order to build a full and well-rounded chest.

Using the below chart, choose a dumbbell movement from each muscle area: upper chest, inner chest, lower chest and outer chest.

The dumbbell chest workout will be split between two days: Day A and Day B. Mix and match to personalize your own dumbbell chest workout.

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Single Dumbbell Chest Workout

If you only have a single dumbbell to work with, it’s still possible to get a good chest workout using one dumbbell only.

Below we’ll walk through four different dumbbell movements using only one dumbbell.

After you have familiarized yourself with each of the four single dumbbell chest workout exercises there is a sample dumbbell chest workout included.

Weighted Dumbbell Chest Dip

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How to do it:

Depending on if you have a single adjustable dumbbell or a fixed weight dumbbell, choose a weight that is appropriate for your level.
Use both legs to hold the dumbbell down at your feet
Hold the dip bars with palms facing the inside of your body and arms locked out supporting your body weight
Slowly lower your body until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle
Your body should be leaning slightly forward to engage more chest muscle
Push your body back up to the starting position

Why It Works:

Dips usually are associated with triceps, which is true, but by leaning the body forward during the dip, you’ll place more emphasis on the chest instead of the triceps.

These dips will focus more on the outer chest area of the pectoral muscle.

One Arm Dumbbell Hang Snatch

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How to do it:

Stand with single dumbbell in hand and feet shoulder width apart. Use an overhand grip
Lower your body into a squat with the dumbbell hanging in between the knees
Your back should remain straight and head up
Create momentum with your legs and pull the dumbbell up through your body until it reaches chest height
At this point, rotate the wrist and press the dumbbell the rest of the way overhead
Lock out the elbow to complete

Why It Works:

The hang snatch is a little bit of a stretch to be called a chest exercise, but when you only have one dumbbell to work with, you might have to venture out a bit.

The single dumbbell hang snatch, while primarily powered by the legs will work some chest and a lot shoulders and upper back as you press the dumbbell up during the movement.

The reason this is included with a dumbbell chest workout is because working shoulders and upper back will help our posture and pull the shoulders back, giving the look of a fuller and bigger chest.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

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How to do it:
Stand with dumbbell held in an overhand grip
Opposite leg should be forward and dumbbell side leg should be back
Knees should be slightly bent
Bend at the waist at a 45 degree angle and let the dumbbell hang down
Pull the dumbbell up toward your waist, stopping at your pocket
Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position
Don’t swing the body

Why It Works:

Another non-traditional dumbbell chest workout here, but the dumbbell row, while targeting the lats and upper back, will help to build muscles that retract the shoulder blades.

Strengthening these muscles that improve posture keep us from slouching and pull the shoulders back to give the appearance of a wider chest.

Improving the strength of the back will also help to improve other lifts like the bench press.

Single Arm Offset Dumbbell Bench Press

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How to do it:

Hold the single dumbbell in chest press position with the other hand gripping the top of the bench at your ear level for support and balance
With your back flat on the bench and feet flat on the floor, press the dumbbell from your chest to over your body
Squeeze the chest at the top and slowly lower the weight back to the chest

Why It Works:

If you are stuck with only a single dumbbell, the single arm offset is your solution to getting in a dumbbell bench press.

The exercise will help increase unilateral strength by only using the single dumbbell at a time to press. Using the single dumbbell also engages more core muscles for stabilizing during the movement.

Single Dumbbell Chest Workout Routine

Using only a single dumbbell, it’s still possible to get in a decent chest workout. One adjustable weight dumbbell would do the trick to conquer this single dumbbell chest workout.

See below for a sample single dumbbell chest workout that you can use to still get that chest workout you’re after.

Summary
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A dumbbell chest workout can be an extremely effective way to build plenty of muscle. The great thing about dumbbells is that they are truly a diverse piece of exercise equipment.

They can be used for compound and isolation exercises, they are small and portable too so they can be used at home or in the gym.

The dumbbells are a great option if you the chest is the next area of your body you want to improve. Using any of these dumbbell chest workouts, you are sure to reach your goals.