The 5 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises To Gain Muscle And Strength

The 5 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises To Gain Muscle And Strength.

Dumbbells are abundant in almost every gym throughout the world. And they’re some of the best pieces of kit to train your chest. In this article, I talk about the 5 best dumbbell chest exercises to gain muscle and strength.


I also include a dumbbell chest and tricep workout and show you how to create one for yourself.

Without further ado let’s begin.

The 5 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises To Gain Muscle And Strength

The Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

This exercise specifically targets your upper chest ( although all of your pecs contribute to the movement), triceps and anterior deltoids.

This exercise has been touted to be the best exercise for chest aesthetics and for a good reason.


Because it primarily targets your upper chest, it gives your chest that shelf look. And because it also targets your anterior deltoids (the front of your shoulders) it helps to give you that v taper look.


By doing this exercise with dumbbells I find that you can really feel your muscles working. This is because you need to control each individual dumbbell.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Form

1. Set the bench to a 30 or 45-degree angle. If you set it at 45 degrees you’ll hit your shoulders slightly more and if you use the 30-degree angle you’ll hit your chest more.

2. Grab a pair of dumbbells that you can handle safely. This means you should be able to control them with good form.

3. Place the heads of the dumbbells on your knees.

4. When you’re ready kick the dumbbells up to your chest.

5. Make sure that you retract your shoulders back and arch your back.

6. You also want to tuck your elbows in so your elbows aren’t flaring out as this can cause injury.

7. Once you’ve assumed the position just mentioned start pressing the dumbbells and perform the required amount of reps for your set.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iPEnn-ltC8

Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

This exercise is just as effective as the incline bench press. Although because you’re lying flat you bring your lower pecs into the movement more. This allows you to lift more weight.

Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Form

1. Set the bench to the flattest position.
2. Pick up a pair of dumbbells that you can handle comfortably and put them on your knees.
3. Arch your back and retract your scapular and tuck your elbows in.
4. Start pressing for the required amount of reps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmB1G1K7v94

The Neutral Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

This exercise is great especially if you’ve got shoulder problems. Because it places an emphasis on your triceps and upper chest reducing strain placed on your shoulder joints.

The Form For The Neutral Dumbbell Bench Press

1. Set the bench to either a flat or incline angle.
2. Grab a pair of dumbbells that you can hold comfortably
3. Lie down while kicking the dumbbells up.
4. Tuck your elbows in and start bench pressing with a neutral grip. This will mean that your palms will be facing each other.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq5MMAbUE2o

The Dumbbell Floor Press

This exercise is great for a couple of reasons.

  • You don’t need a bench to do it.
  • You’ll become more effective at the lockout part of the exercise.

The floor press is great for making your lockout more effective because you can’t use momentum with this exercise.


For example, when you perform the floor press your elbows make contact with the ground.
This takes any momentum out of the exercise and means you have to start from a dead stop every time.


This differs compared to a standard bench press as you’d normally use momentum by using the stretch reflex.


This isn’t to say that benching with momentum and the stretch reflex is bad. It’s not. Dumbbell floor presses and dumbbell bench presses both can have a place in your training.

How To Do The Floor Press

1. Pick up a pair of dumbbells that you can comfortably use with good form.
2. Lie on the floor and then grab each dumbbell in each hand.
3. Start pressing. You’ll notice that you can go no deeper than about a 90-degree angle. This is okay because this helps train the lockout.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUGDRwge4F8

Dumbbell Fly’s

Although not as effective as the dumbbell pressing movements the dumbbell fly still can have a place in your training.


This exercise works all the same muscles as the bench press although you’ll get more bang for your buck with pressing variations.


Think of dumbbell flyes as an isolation exercise. They’re primarily used so that you can feel a better stretch and work the chest muscles slightly differently. Include this exercise at the end of your chest workout for the best results.


How To Perform Dumbbell Flyes


1. Set the bench to either a flat or incline angle.
2. Grab a pair of dumbbells that you can comfortably handle.
3. Arch your back and retract your shoulder blades like you would when bench pressing.
4. Start off the exercise with your hands above your chest with the dumbbells in your hands. Your palms should be facing each other. I.e the dumbbells should be in a neutral position.
5. Bring the dumbbells down slowly to about horizontal or lower if mobility allows. So that you feel a squeeze in your chest.
6. Bring the dumbbells back up to the starting position and complete the required amount of reps for your set.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eozdVDA78K0

How To Create Your Own Dumbbell Chest & Tricep Workout

Creating your own chest and tricep workout doesn’t have to be difficult.


As long as you follow this structure you can plug and play whatever dumbbell chest exercises you like. Although you could also use any pressing variations such as the barbell bench press, incline barbell bench press or machine chest press.


Dumbbell pressing variation


Dumbbell pressing variation


Dumbell flyes


Dumbell skull crushers or the seated tricep press

A Dumbell Chest & Tricep Workout

Flat dumbbell bench press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Incline dumbbell bench press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Dumbbell chest flyes 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Dumbbell skull crushers 3 sets of 10-12 reps

How To Progress With This Workout

Once you hit 8 reps with a given weight for your first set increase the weight to the next dumbbell and try and get at least 6 reps for the subsequent 2 sets.


For the 10-12 rep range once you hit 12 reps with a given weight increase the weight to the next dumbbell and aim to get at least 10 reps for the next 2 sets.

Warm Up Routine

Only warm up for the first exercise of this workout.


The warm-up is simple it goes like this:


1st set 50% of working weight for 8 reps
2nd set 70% of working weight for 4 reps
3rd set 90% of working weight for 2 reps


To work out your warm-up weights simply add up the weight for the dumbbells and use these percentages of that combined weight for your warm-up sets.


For example, if you can bench press 40kg dumbbells you’d multiply 40kg x2 which = 80kg. So your warm-up sets would be a percentage of 80kg.


Here’s how the warm up sets might go if you were bench pressing 40kg dumbbells for your work sets.


20kg x 8 reps

28×4 reps

36×2 reps


1st working set


Doing your warm-up sets is really that easy.

The Bottom Line On The 5 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises To Gain Muscle And Strength

  • The most effective dumbbell chest exercises are the pressing variations. This is because they enable you to lift the most weight. And progressively overload your muscles most efficiently.
  • Once you’ve completed your pressing exercises add in dumbbell chest flys.
  • Remember your main goal is to get stronger at these exercises, if you do that you’ll do well

Whats your favourite dumbbell chest exercise? Let me know below. Also click here to get your free fat loss ebook

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