3 Chest Workouts You Can Do At Home with Dumbbells

While the barbell is a key ingredient for overall pressing strength and chest hypertrophy, equipment like dumbbells can still be high quality alternatives that can build serious bench press strength and muscle mass.

In this article we will discuss:

  • The Best Chest Exercises to Do With Dumbbells
  • 3 Sample Chest Workouts to Do at Home With Dumbbells

The Best Chest Exercises to Do With Dumbbells

Below are six (6) exercises that coaches and athletes can do to increase muscular strength, hypertrophy, and endurance with dumbbells. Unlike the barbell and bodyweight training, dumbbells still allow for maximal strength and muscular development (assuming you have heavy enough dumbbells) with all the added benefits of unilateral training.

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

The dumbbell incline press can help to target the upper chest muscles and take some loading off the triceps to further place demands on the chest. By changing the angle of the press (flat vs incline bench) you can create a different training stimulus to further enhance muscular growth.

Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

The dumbbell flat bench press can be done to train the chest and triceps, two large muscle groups involved in pressing and overall upper body strength movements. This can be a great variation of the bench press to swap for the barbell and still allow for maximal strength and hypertrophy (provided you have heavy dumbbells if your goal is strength).

Dumbbell Floor Press

The dumbbell floor press is a partial range of motion dumbbell press that can be used to isolate the triceps and portions of the bench pressing motion in case of strength limitations or injury.

Dumbbell Flye

The dumbbell flyes when done correctly, can help to increase scapular stability and control while isolating the pectoralis minor and major. Often, this exercise is done with too much loading, speed, and incorrect ranges of motion/joint angles. Be sure to focus on feeling the stretch in the pecs, rather than having discomfort within the shoulder joint.

Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell pullovers help to develop the serratus and back muscles responsible for increase shoulder stabilization and back tension, both of which are necessary for heavy chest pressing. This exercise should be done with the intention of performing an eccentric stretch followed by a controlled and maximally contracted end position.

Dumbbell Close Grip Press

The dumbbell close grip bench press can increase triceps mass (highly active muscle involved in bench pressing and most chest exercises) and overall pressing strength. Additionally, the close grip bench press can be used to increase inner chest development and minimize shoulder joint strain with lifters who may have occasional issues when benching.

3 Chest Workouts You Can Do at Home with Dumbbells

Below are three chest workouts you can do at home with dumbbells (and bodyweight). Assuming you have dumbbells heavy enough (for stronger lifters), you should be able to maximize muscle growth, strength, and unilateral pressing performance. Note, that many of these workouts integrate dumbbells and non-weighted chest exercises as well.

Workout 1

The below workout should be done in a straight set fashion, meaning that the lifter performs the first exercise in the lift, rests, and repeats until all sets are completed of that exercise. Once done, they can move on to the next exercise in the line up and repeat until completed.

  • Dumbbell Flat Bench Flyes – 4 sets of 10 repetitions, with a 1-2 second pause in the bottom position, feeling a stretch in the chest.
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions, heavy weight, slow and controlled eccentric.
  • Dumbbell Neutral Grip Flat Bench Press – 4 sets of 10 repetitions
    • Dips – 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions (if you cannot do dips at home, perform incline push ups).

Workout 2

The below workout starts identical to Workout 1, in that it employs a single joint isolation movement (dumbbell flat bench flye) to pre-exhaust the chest muscles and help to increase blood flow to the muscle and increase dynamic range of motion. Loads should be kept light-moderate to allow for maximal stretching and chest isolation.

Within this workout, alternating and unilateral pressing movements occur, which can help to address movement and muscular imbalance. Finish the workout by performing 3 sets of max effort push ups to failure exhaust the chest muscles.

  • Dumbbell Flat Bench Flyes – 4 sets of 10 repetitions, with a 1-2 second pause in the bottom position, feeling a stretch in the chest.
  • Plyometric Push Up – 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Single Arm Incline Bench Press – 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions per arm
  • Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions per arm
  • Push Up – 3 sets to failure

Workout 3

The below workout is a more balanced push/pull workout that decorated some back exercise as well. Often, lifters looking to increase chest size and strength should also address back size and strength, as they both work together to increase overall pressing strength, stability in lifts, and help to minimize overuse injury of the chest, shoulders, and anterior pressing muscles.

  • Pull Up – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Push Up – 3 sets of 20 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Bench Press – 5 sets of 6-8 repetitions, heavy
  • Dumbbell Renegade Row – 5 sets of 10 repetitions (5 per side), light to moderate load, focusing on core strength and upper back stability.
  • Dumbbell Flye (Flat or Incline) – 5 sets of 8-10 repetitions, moderate to heavy loads, focusing on eccentric stretch and peak muscle contractions
  • Lying Dumbbell Pullover – 4 sets of 10 repetitions, moderate to heavy loads, focusing on eccentric stretch and peak muscle contractions

    Featured Image: @denis_powerlifting on Instagram

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    Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.