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10 Best Chest Exercises With Dumbbells That Will Pump Your Pecs

10 best chest dumbbell exercises

You probably already know that the bench press might be the arguably best overall exercise for building strength and size in your chest. But straight after the infamous barbell bench press comes the flat bench dumbbell press, which is a starting point for this list of the best chest exercises when using dumbbells.

I'm about to introduce you to some fantastic exercises that will make even the most seasoned gym bros feel the burn on the pecs. As the chest is built on four different muscles, I'm going to present exercises that cover all four and include videos on how you perform good form. Let's dive in and see if you can find your next favourite!

The Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises Summarized:

  1. Flat bench dumbbell press
  2. Dumbbell Chest Flyes
  3. Dumbbell Pullover
  4. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
  5. Dumbbell push-ups
  6. Incline Dumbbells Flyes
  7. Crush Press
  8. Dumbbell floor press
  9. Dumbbell low fly
  10. Dumbbell decline fly

1. Flat Bench Dumbbell Press

How To: Dumbbell Chest Press

Level: Beginner to intermediate

The flat bench dumbbell press is a cornerstone exercise for any gym bro trying to grow their chest. Known for its ability to engage the pectoral muscles while also recruiting stabilizer muscles, this exercise delivers a comprehensive upper-body workout. An exercise that is backed by studies to build a bigger chest. A must-exercise for any chest routine if you ask me. Prioritizing proper form and technique over lifting heavy weights will ensure optimal results while minimizing the risk of injury.

How to Perform:

  1. Begin by sitting on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, held at shoulder height with palms facing forward.
  2. Slowly lie back on the bench, ensuring your feet are firmly planted on the ground for stability.
  3. With a controlled motion, exhale and press the dumbbells upward until your arms are fully extended, but be sure not to lock your elbows.
  4. Pause briefly at the top of the movement, focusing on squeezing your chest muscles.
  5. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder level, maintaining control throughout the descent.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Suggested Reps and Sets: For beginners, aim for three sets of 8-12 repetitions with a moderate weight to build strength and endurance. As you progress, you can increase the weight and decrease the reps to 6-8 for muscle growth and hypertrophy.

2. Dumbbell Chest Flyes

How to Properly Do a DUMBBELL FLY | Mind Pump

Level: Beginner to intermediate

This exercise, often dubbed as the “flyes,” offers a unique range of motion that targets the pectoral muscles in a distinct way. It's like giving your chest muscles a hug from the inside out, working on strength, stability, and that coveted muscular definition. Dumbbell flyers give you a proper burn, and I usually suggest finishing with this exercise rather than starting with it. You'll also notice that you won't have to lift heavy to get a good pump. Here's how you do it.

How to Perform With Proper Form:

  1. Begin by lying flat on a bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended above your chest. Palms should be facing each other.
  2. With a slight bend in your elbows, slowly lower the dumbbells out to the sides in a wide arc until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles.
  3. Keep your core engaged and maintain a controlled motion throughout the movement, focusing on the stretch and contraction of the chest.
  4. Once you reach a comfortable stretch position, exhale and squeeze your chest muscles to bring the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, ensuring smooth and controlled movements.

Suggested Reps and Sets: For beginners, aim for three sets of 10-12 repetitions with a lighter weight to perfect your form and establish muscle connection. As you become more proficient, increase the weight and aim for three sets of 8-10 repetitions to stimulate muscle growth and development.

3. Dumbbell Pullover

Level: Intermediate

The dumbbell pullover is often overlooked as it is a bit technical. But it's incredibly effective because it targets not only the chest muscles but also the lats and serratus anterior. Again, you won't need to lift heavy weights to feel a good burn, and I strongly recommend you start with a weight that you feel confident with as the exercise can be a bit tricky.

How to Perform:

  1. Begin by lying flat on a bench with only your upper back and shoulders supported. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground for stability.
  2. Hold a single dumbbell with both hands, palms pressing against the underside of the inner plate.
  3. Start with the dumbbell positioned directly above your chest, arms slightly bent, and elbows pointing outward.
  4. Inhale deeply as you lower the dumbbell in a smooth arc behind your head, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  5. Feel the stretch in your chest and lats as the dumbbell descends, but be mindful not to let your lower back arch excessively.
  6. Exhale as you reverse the motion, pulling the dumbbell back up to the starting position using your chest and lats.
  7. Keep the movement controlled and deliberate, focusing on engaging the targeted muscles throughout the exercise.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form and technique.

Suggested Reps and Sets: For beginners, aim for three sets of 8-12 repetitions with a lightweight to familiarize yourself with the movement pattern and muscle engagement. Slowly add more weight with the same amount of reps.

4. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

Incline Dumbbell Press BETTER | Targeting The Muscle Series

Level: Intermediate

The dumbbell incline bench press adds a refreshing twist to traditional bench presses by targeting the upper chest muscles, enhancing both strength and aesthetic appeal. It is a well-known exercise among natural bodybuilders for sculpting a well-rounded upper-body physique.

How to Perform:

  1. Set up an incline bench at a 30-45-degree angle and adjust it to your preference.
  2. Sit on the incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand, resting on your thighs.
  3. Lie back on the bench, ensuring your head, shoulders, and upper back are supported.
  4. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing forward and elbows bent.
  5. Inhale deeply as you press the dumbbells upward, extending your arms fully but without locking your elbows.
  6. Feel the contraction in your upper chest as you push the dumbbells upward, maintaining control throughout the movement.
  7. Exhale as you lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder height, keeping your elbows slightly bent to keep tension on the chest muscles.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on smooth and controlled movements.

Suggested Reps and Sets: I wouldn't suggest this exercise to beginners as you might injure your shoulders if done incorrectly. If you want to try it out, ensure to have a spotter (a friend or gym buddy) to help you out. Then, go for six to eight repetitions with three sets.

5. Dumbbell push-ups

Level: Intermediate

I wouldn't be able to write this article without mentioning dumbbell push-ups. This exercise engages the chest muscles and targets the shoulders, triceps, and core, making it a comprehensive upper-body workout.

How to Perform Dumbbell Push-Ups:

  1. Begin by placing two dumbbells on the ground, shoulder-width apart, in the same position you would assume for a regular push-up.
  2. Assume a high plank position with your hands gripping the dumbbells securely, ensuring that your wrists are aligned with your shoulders.
  3. Engage your core and lower your body down towards the ground, maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body throughout the movement.
  4. Once your chest reaches the level of the dumbbells, push through your palms to extend your arms and return to the starting position.
  5. Remember to breathe steadily throughout the exercise, exhaling as you push up and inhaling as you lower down.

Suggested Reps and Sets: Aim for 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions for beginners, focusing on maintaining proper form throughout each set. Although this exercise may seem scary, most beginners quickly get the hang of it. Start with no more than 12 lbs of weights on each side and increase as you get comfortable with it.

6. Incline Dumbbells Flyes

How to Do an Incline Dumbbell Fly | Chest Workout

Level: Beginner to intermediate

The Dumbbell incline bench press is a standout choice for targeting the upper chest muscles. The exercise helps build strength and adds depth and dimension to chest development. The upper chest muscle (also called the pectoralis muscle) is the most important part of the chest, if you ask me. So, if you're aiming to sculpt a more impressive chest, the dumbbell incline bench press is a must-do. You'll see Sam Sulek hit it in his favourite chest routine.

How to Perform Dumbbell Incline Bench Press:

  1. Begin by adjusting the bench to a moderate incline, typically around 30 to 45 degrees.
  2. Sit on the bench with your feet flat on the floor and your back firmly pressed against the bench.
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder width, palms facing forward, and elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  4. Press the dumbbells upward in a smooth and controlled motion until your arms are fully extended but not locked out.
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement, focusing on squeezing your chest muscles.
  6. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the descent.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, keeping your movements fluid and controlled.

Suggested Reps and Sets: Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions per set for optimal results. Choose a weight that challenges your muscles while allowing you to maintain proper form throughout each set.

7. Crush Press

Dumbbell Crush Press

Level: Beginner to intermediate

The Crush Press is a dynamic dumbbell exercise that targets not only your chest but also engages your triceps and shoulders for a completely insane burn. This underrated gem deserves a spot in your routine for its ability to enhance chest strength and definition while adding a unique twist to your usual exercises.

How to Perform Crush Press:

  1. Start by lying flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended straight up towards the ceiling.
  2. Position the dumbbells so that the ends are touching each other, creating a “crush” grip.
  3. Engage your chest muscles and lower the dumbbells towards your chest in a controlled manner, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  4. As you press the dumbbells back up, focus on squeezing your chest muscles together to maintain the crush grip.
  5. Extend your arms fully at the top of the movement without locking out your elbows.
  6. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Suggested Reps and Sets: For optimal results, go for 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions per set or til failure. Choose a weight that challenges your muscles and do the reps a bit faster than usual for a good pump.

8. Dumbbell Floor Press

DUMBBELL FLOOR PRESS

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Now, to an exercise that I'm not a massive fan of, but I do it as I know it brings me good chest results. As you lie flat on the ground, you might think you're in for a relaxed session, but don't be fooled. This exercise is a game-changer, igniting your chest muscles like never before.

How to Perform Dumbbell Floor Press:

  1. Begin by lying on the floor or on a mat, knees bent and feet planted firmly.
  2. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, holding them at chest level with your palms facing away from your body.
  3. Engage your chest muscles as you press the dumbbells upward, extending your arms but maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
  4. Feel the resistance as you push the dumbbells towards the ceiling, focusing on squeezing your chest at the top of the movement.
  5. With control, lower the dumbbells back down to chest level, feeling the stretch in your chest muscles.
  6. Repeat the motion for the desired number of reps, maintaining a steady and controlled pace throughout.

Suggested Reps and Sets: To optimize your results, aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions per set. Breathe deeply and focus on the mind-muscle connection throughout the exercise, maximizing the effectiveness of each rep.

9. Dumbbell Low Fly

Level: Intermediate

The dumbbell low fly is opposite to the floor press for me, this is a favourite! This exercise flies a bit under the radar, but its impact on your chest development is anything but subtle. The Dumbbell Low Fly targets your chest from a unique angle, helping you sculpt a defined and powerful upper body like never before. I tend to finish my chest routine with either this one or the flyers for that final pump.

How to Perform Dumbbell Low Fly:

  1. Begin by lying flat on a bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand above your chest, palms facing inward.
  2. With a slight bend in your elbows, lower the dumbbells out to the sides in a wide arc, keeping your arms parallel to the floor.
  3. Feel the stretch in your chest muscles as you lower the dumbbells as far as comfortable, maintaining control throughout the movement.
  4. Engage your chest muscles as you bring the dumbbells back up to the starting position, squeezing them together at the top of the movement.
  5. Repeat the motion for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on the mind-muscle connection and maintaining a smooth, controlled pace.

Suggested Reps and Sets: I'd say 3 sets to failure, as this exercise is perfect for a final pump.

10. Dumbbell Decline Fly

Decline Dumbbell Flyes - Workout Videos (Chest Workout)

Level: Beginner to intermediate

This exercise takes your chest training to a whole new level by targeting the lower portion of your chest with precision and intensity. An area that many lifters seem to forget. The Dumbbell Decline Fly is perfect for sculpting a chiselled and balanced chest that commands attention and is a great alternative to decline bench press.

How to Perform Dumbbell Decline Fly:

  1. Start by adjusting a decline bench to a comfortable angle, typically around 30 to 45 degrees.
  2. Lie back on the bench with your feet securely anchored and hold a dumbbell in each hand above your chest, palms facing inward.
  3. With your elbows slightly bent, lower the dumbbells out to the sides in a wide arc until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles.
  4. Keep your arms aligned with your body as you lower the dumbbells, maintaining control throughout the movement.
  5. Engage your chest muscles as you bring the dumbbells back up to the starting position, squeezing them together at the top of the movement.
  6. Repeat the motion for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and control.

Suggested Reps and Sets: Aim for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions per set. I know it might be challenging in the beginning as this is an area that many forget to work out, but stick to it, and you'll notice that you'll be able to add more weights in no time.

What Are The Benefits of Dumbbell Chest Exercises?

Benefits of Dumbbell Chest ExercisesDescription
Increased Muscle StrengthDumbbell chest exercises target the pectoral muscles, shoulders, and triceps, leading to increased strength and endurance in the upper body muscles.
Improved Muscle BalanceUsing dumbbells allows each side of the body to work independently, helping to correct muscle imbalances and ensure symmetrical development of the chest muscles.
Enhanced Range of MotionDumbbell exercises often allow for a greater range of motion compared to barbell exercises, promoting improved flexibility and mobility in the chest and shoulder joints.
Versatility in WorkoutsDumbbells offer a wide range of exercise variations, including presses, flies, and pullovers, allowing for versatile and customizable chest workouts.
Engages Stabilizing MusclesDumbbell chest exercises engage stabilizing muscles in the core and upper body, promoting better balance, coordination, and overall functional strength.
Reduced Risk of InjuryUsing dumbbells allows for more natural movement patterns, reducing the risk of joint strain or injury commonly associated with fixed-range machines or improper form.
Convenience and AccessibilityDumbbell exercises can be performed at home or in the gym with minimal equipment, making them accessible to individuals of all fitness levels and workout environments.

What Chest Exercises Can I Do With Dumbbells?

Upper Chest:

  • Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Fly

Middle Chest

  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Chest Press

Lower Chest:

  • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Decline Dumbbell Fly

Overall Chest:

  • Dumbbell Pullover
  • Dumbbell Squeeze Press

FAQ:

Can I Build a Bigger Chest With Just Dumbbells?

Yes, you can! In fact, you don't even need a gym membership to build a bigger chest as you can set up your own home gym by buying a set of dumbbells.

Are Dumbbells Or Barbells Better For a Chest Workout?

If I had to choose one, I'd go for dumbbells, as they give me a better squeeze and motion at the end of the day. The only time I really need a barbell is when doing bench press.

Do Dips Work to Build a Bigger Chest?

Dips have many benefits, and you'll get a long way in building a chest by only sticking to dips. But if you want to engage all the chest muscles, you have to do more than dips only.

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