Chest Dumbbell Workout

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Building a large chest is supposed to be as simple as slamming as much weight as you can find on a barbell and bench-pressing it until you're blue in the face, according to gym lore.

If benching affects your shoulders, you don't have access to a spotter, or you've discovered that barbell training isn't giving you the results you want, dumbbell work is the way to go.

chest dumbbell workout


Dumbbells Can Help You Build Muscle in Your Chest

Dumbbell training isn't as exciting as loading up the bar till it bends, but for most people, it's a better way to build bigger, stronger pecs with less chance of injury. We're about to show you the most effective dumbbell exercises and regimens for building a strong chest from top to bottom.


What Are the Advantages of Using Dumbbells to Work My Chest?

"Putting two weights in your hands makes it twice as difficult to stabilize them, That's a good thing, according to him: the tiny muscles in your shoulder joints learn to stabilize them, while the larger muscles (mostly the pecs) work harder to manage the weights and keep them from wandering in all directions. The following are some of the advantages of dumbbell training for chest development.

The range of motion of dumbbells is greater than that of barbells. When you do bench presses with a barbell, the bar comes into contact with your chest before your pectoral muscles have fully stretched. If your aim is to press the most weight possible, that's not so awful. However, if you want to bulk up and improve your athletic performance, dumbbells are a superior option since they allow you to drop the weights below chest level, extending the pecs and activating more muscle fibers. According to a research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, greater ranges of motion contribute to increased muscle development.

Dumbbells are easier on your joints than barbells. The human body has an amusing feature: it only seems to be symmetrical. In fact, from one side to the other, your shoulders, hips, wrists, and other joints are all somewhat different. When you push the body to move in perfect symmetry, such as when you drop an evenly-weighted bar to the center of your chest, one side will always take on a bit more stress than the other. If you do this frequently enough, your joints on that side will begin to protest.

When working out with dumbbells, all sides of your body can discover their best path. Your wrists are free to rotate, and your elbows and shoulders may go in the direction that feels best to them, thus tailoring the workout to your body. This distributes the exercise's tension where it belongs: in your muscles, not your joints.

Dumbbells provide you with a well-balanced workout and increased strength. This is a follow-up to the prior point. On the barbell bench press, you may feel like your right and left arms are pushing with equal effort, but humans are quite adept at compensating by putting a bit more stress on their stronger side while favoring their weaker one. With dumbbells, that's not possible: your right and left sides must stabilize and push with equal force, and if one side lags behind, you'll notice it straight away. This guarantees that you never push a set beyond the limits of your weaker side. The strength on both sides eventually equalizes. Dumbbells make completing a few additional reps with it simple if you need to strengthen the weaker side.

Dumbbells put more pressure on the pecs. When you bench-press a set of dumbbells, you'll notice that you have to engage your chest muscles at the peak of the exercise to keep the weights from moving outward. When your hands are joined by a steel bar, you don't have to worry about that. Dumbbell bench presses stimulate the pectoralis major—the massive slab that makes up the majority of the chest musculature—better than both the barbell bench press and the Smith machine bench press, according to a 2017 research.

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What Dumbbell Chest Exercises Can I Do?

Any chest exercise that can be done with a barbell may also be done with dumbbells. Here are some of our favorites from Rusin, many of which are basic plays you're undoubtedly already acquainted with but with a unique twist that results in even bigger winnings. We divided them into groups based on whatever part of the chest they highlight the most.

chest dumbbell workout


Upper Chest Dimensions

Incline Fly-Press

  1. Place two or three heavy barbell plates on one end of a flat workout bench to raise it (the same as you did for incline press described above).
  1. Hold two medium-heavy dumbbells at arm's length above your chest, palms facing inward, while you lie back on the bench with your head at the raised end.
  1. Slowly drop the dumbbells out to the sides, bending your elbows and pushing your shoulder blades together until your chest is stretched and your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. (Limit the range of motion if you have shoulder discomfort in the fully extended position.)
  1. Reverse the action by squeezing your pecs while completely straightening your arms to return to the beginning position.

Slight Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Place two or three heavy barbell plates, or a small box or step, at one end of a flat workout bench. The angle should preferably be less than 30 degrees.
  2. Hold two dumbbells at arm's length above your chest while lying back on the bench with your head at the raised end.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells until they are near to the sides of your chest by bending your elbows and pulling your shoulder blades together on the bench. Your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle to your body in the down position, not straight out to the sides.
  4. Press the dumbbells back up, flexing your chest as you do so, after a brief pause in the extended position.

The Standard incline bench presses place your hips in a flexed—or bent—position. This effectively removes your entire lower body from the activity, which isn't always desirable. By slightly raising the bench, you may include leg drive into the exercise, just like you would (or should) with a flat barbell bench press. This essentially transforms the action into a full-body workout, allowing you to lift greater weight.

The inclination also strengthens the pectoral fibers that join to the collarbone.

Standard flyes are excellent for increasing muscle, but they are quite taxing on the shoulders. According to Rusin, bending the arms as you drop the weights keeps the load on the pecs while removing it from the shoulder joints.

Middle Chest

Crush Press

  1. Lie down on a flat workout bench, palms facing each other, with two heavy weights on your chest.
  2. In the middle of your chest, press the dumbbells together (this is your starting position).
  3. Slowly raise the dumbbells to arm's length over your chest, keeping them squeezed together. Squeeze your chest muscles for a few moments.
  4. Slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Crush pushes shorten the pecs and cause them to contract strongly. Flyes and dumbbell pressing activities, in which the weights drop past your chest, emphasizing a stretch on the muscles, are a nice contrast. Crush presses can be used to provide a similar effect to cable crossovers without the requirement for two expensive cable stations.


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Fly-Press

  1. Lie back on a workout bench, hands facing inward, holding two dumbbells at arm's length above your chest. This is where you'll begin.
  2. Slowly drop the dumbbells out to the sides, bending your elbows and pressing your shoulder blades together, until your chest is stretched and your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. (Limit the range of motion if you have shoulder discomfort in the fully extended position.)
  3. Reverse the action by squeezing your pecs while completely straightening your arms to return to the beginning position.
  4. Flyes essentially eliminate the triceps from the equation, isolating the pecs and training them hardest in the fully extended position—where the most muscle fibers may be activated.


Dumbbell Pull-Overs

Although they are both back and chest exercises, dumbbell pullovers are more generally thought of as a back workout. The angle of your arms and range of motion are both important aspects in deciding whether it will stimulate the former or the latter; both are detailed in the step-by-step lesson.

Similar to dumbbell flyes, the exercise provides for a powerful loaded stretch. It collaborates with the flyes, however, by attacking the pectoralis major from a different angle.

Starting Position: Place a dumbbell on top of a bench, just off the edge, and hold it erect with both hands. Lay on your back across the bench, only your shoulder blades contacting the bench's surface.

chest dumbbell workout


  1. Place your feet firmly on the ground, drop your hips, and grip the dumbbell in both hands, palms on the inner side of the weight plates: To establish a tight grip, tangle your thumbs around the handle and wrap your fingers around the dumbbell's edge.
  2. Raise the dumbbell over your head, stretch your chest for a second, and gently bend your elbows (too much bending will activate your back more than your chest).
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head until your arms are parallel to your chest, maintain the stretch for a second, and then slowly raise the dumbbell over your eyes.
  4. Squeeze your chest and raise the dumbbell to just over your forehead to hold the contraction for a second. Your back will be put under more strain as a result of this.


Feet-Up Slight Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Place two or three heavy barbell plates on one end of a flat workout bench to raise it.
  2. Hold two heavy dumbbells at arm's length over your chest while you lie back on the bench, your head at the lower end. Placing your feet flat on the bench is a good idea.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells until they are near to the sides of your chest by bending your elbows and pulling your shoulder blades together on the bench.
  4. Return the dumbbells to their starting position after a brief pause in the extended position.

With the shoulders in a central—or neutral—position, the small descent works the pecs. The declining angle engages more of the muscle fibers that link to the sternum in this balanced posture, allowing maximum muscular drive (targeting the lower chest). Do you want to do a lot of chest exercises? This is the one to pick. It's safer than doing large weight flat or incline presses.


What Is the Most Effective Dumbbell Chest Exercise?

Try one of the routines below if you want to create some major pressing strength and size in your chest. Each is tailored to a certain purpose and level of experience.


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Beginner's Dumbbell Chest Workout

Start with this easy two-move routine if you're new to the iron game and want to grow your chest using dumbbells. It can be done as part of a full-body or upper-body workout. Perform each rep of the pushup slowly and deliberately, stopping before you hit failure on the first set. Get as many reps as you can on the last effort. Then go on to the second move, leaving a few repetitions in the tank on each set. On nonconsecutive days, do this workout up to three times a week.


Pushup

Repetitions: On the first set, stop two reps shy of failure; on the last set, do as many reps as feasible.

Place your hands on the floor or a firm raised platform (a bench, box, or table will suffice—the higher the surface, the simpler the exercise). Set them at a width that is little broader than shoulder width, and the same goes for your feet. From your heels to the top of your head, your arms should be locked out and your body should be upright. So that your pelvis is perpendicular to the floor, tuck your tailbone down, brace your core, and clench your glutes.

Bend your arms and retract your shoulder blades while keeping your body straight and your head in a neutral posture until your chest is just above the floor—or as far as you can go without losing proper form.

At the height of the exercise, widen your shoulder blades and press back up. (Imagine you're pushing through the floor.)


Fly-Press in an Inclined Position

  • 2–3 sets from 12–15 reps

See the instructions above for further information.


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Intermediate Dumbbell Chest Workout

If you've been lifting weights for at least six months, these trio of pec demolishers will take you to the next level. Use it in place of your chest day, or add it to your routine as a bonus workout (spaced out a few days from any other chest work you do). Between sets of the first motion, rest for around 2 minutes, 60 seconds between sets of the second, and 30–45 seconds between sets of the third. Choose weights for each exercise that will allow you to accomplish the least amount of reps stated. Before increasing the weight, work up to achieving the greatest number of repetitions stated for each set. On nonconsecutive days, do the workout twice a week.


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