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12 Best Chest Exercises With Dumbbells

12 Best Chest Exercises With Dumbbells


Hello, fellow fitness enthusiasts, Welcome to our guide for the 12 best chest exercises for dumbbells. We imagine you are here because you are specifically trying to target your chest, or maybe you're just interested; either way, you are in the right place.



 Table of contents







FAQ about chest exercises with dumbbells


Can I build my chest with dumbbells?

Yes, dumbbells are versatile, you can target many muscle groups with dumbbell exercises which makes them the perfect tool for isolating certain muscles. 


Man with dumbbells, working on chest muscles, laying on an incline bench.

<a href="">Free Stock photos by Vecteezy</a>



Will my chest grow if I train everyday?

We get it, you want to work hard and reap the benefits of chest exercises, but training the same muscle everyday does not allow for the muscle to heal and grow efficiently. It is important to rest your chest muscles so you can experience the full benefits of building your chest. 2 days of recovery is often recommended.





How many sets should I do for chest?

Somewhere around 8 and 32 sets a week, factors such as experience and the weight of your dumbbells determine this. If your dumbbells are heavier, do less sets, if your dumbbells are lighter do more sets. It is also advised to do less sets if you are a beginner.





which dumbbell weight is best for beginners?

The ideal dumbbell weight to start with is either 5kg or 10kg dumbbells. 5kg and 10kg dumbbells are ideal for beginners for various reasons, lighter weights allow you to develop proper form/technique and minimise the risk of injury.

"5kg dumbbells or 10kg dumbbells are good for beginners, while intermediate to advanced users will aim for around 15kg dumbbells and above. Around the 4-6 rep range is a good benchmark"

What Dumbbell Weight Should I Use? | Lifespan Fitness. July 26th, 2022.







Muscles in your chest.

The chest contains four muscles, the pectoralis major, the pectoralis minor, serratus anterior and the subclavius.


Pectoralis major

The pectoralis major is responsible for rotating the arm, specifically in the shoulder joint, it assists in flexing the shoulder joint for movements such as moving the arm forward and upward as well as other movements.


Pectoralis minor

The pectoralis minor, although smaller it is still an important muscle within the chest, the pectoralis minor helps stabilize the scapula (shoulder blade) against the rib cage. It pulls the scapula downward and forward, assisting in maintaining proper alignment and stability of the shoulder joint. The pectoralis minor also aids in deep breathing.


Serratus anterior

Anteversion and protraction of the arm are made possible by the serratus anterior muscle's pulling of the scapula forward around the thorax. One of the primary functions of the serratus anterior is to stabilize the scapula against the rib cage.



The subclavius is a small triangular muscle within the chest, it is located beneath the clavicle. The subclavius helps to stabilise the clavicle, it prevents excessive movement or displacement of the clavicle during various arm movements. 


chest muscle anatomy, with skeletal and muscular diagram.







 1. The dumbbell bench press



The dumbbell bench press is a dumbbell chest workout that is quite popular as a strength training exercise. The dumbbell bench press primarily targets the pectoralis major as well as the shoulders and triceps.

As the dumbbell bench press primarily targets the pectoralis major, which is the largest muscle in the chest, it significantly helps overall chest development.

On a less significant level, the dumbbell bench press also targets the shoulders and triceps. This secondary benefit is also helpful for chest development as the pectoralis major rotates the arm within the shoulder joint.


Recommended sets

  • 3 to 5 sets 


Tips on form for the dumbbell bench press

  • Position the bench in a flat position, this aids in proper posture.
  • retract your shoulder blades by squeezing them together.
  • Keep your elbows at around a 45-degree angle from your body.
  • Lower the dumbbells until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles.
  • Engage the chest muscles.
  • Engage your core muscles.
  • Breathe properly, inhale as you lower the dumbbells, exhale as you push them back up.













2. Dumbbell Flyes



The dumbbell Flyes is a dumbbell chest isolation exercise that targets the chest muscles, including the pectoralis major, especially the sternal head of the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.

Dumbbell flyes allow for a greater range of motion; as you lower the dumbbells, you will feel a stretch in the muscles within your chest. This stretch can enhance muscle growth and flexibility within the pectoralis major.

With the dumbbell fly, as you perform this chest exercise consistently, you will notice improved muscle definition within the chest area, enhancing your overall physique.


Recommended sets 

  • 3 to 4 sets  



Tips on form for the dumbbell Flyes

  • Start with an appropriate weight
  • Use a flat bench
  • Maintain a slight bend in the elbows
  • Control the descent
  • Maintain control
  • Breathe naturally















3. Incline dumbbell chest press



The incline dumbbell chest press is just a variation of the original dumbbell chest press, the difference being that with the incline dumbbell chest press, the bench is typically placed at around a 45-degree angle, whereas during the traditional bench press, the bench is flat.

And of course, the incline dumbbell chest press mainly targets the chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The incline dumbbell chest press does a good job placing significant emphasis on the upper portion of the pectoralis major, which helps to develop the upper chest muscles.

The dumbbell chest press also works the anterior deltoids, which helps strengthen the upper body.


Recommended sets

  • 2-3 sets 



Tips on form for the incline chest press

  • Make sure the bench is at an angle between 30-45 degrees
  • Position yourself correctly (feet firmly on the floor and body at a slight incline.)
  • Use proper breathing technique









4. Decline dumbbell chest press


The decline dumbbell chest press is essentially the opposite of the incline dumbbell bench press; the bench is typically set at an angle between 15 and 30 degrees during this dumbbell chest workout. While it is similar to the incline chest press, the angle of the bench places much more emphasis on the lower portion of the pectoralis major, which is primarily responsible for the adduction and horizontal flexion of the shoulder joint.

The serratus anterior stabilises the shoulder blades during the exercise, helping to protract the scapulae and support the pressing motion.

Incorporating the incline and decline chest press in your workouts ensures balanced chest development, as the incline helps develop the upper portion of the chest and vice versa, while the decline chest press helps build upper body strength as a whole.


Recommended sets

  • 4-6


Tips on form for the decline chest press

  • Adjust the bench into a decline angle between 15-30 degrees
  • Ensure your head is lower than your feet when in position
  • keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down
  • Engage your core
  • Use proper breathing technique












5. Incline dumbbell fly




The incline dumbbell fly is a variation of the dumbbell fly, with the only difference being the incline bench. Primarily targeting the pectoralis major and anterior deltoids, among other muscles.

The incline angle places greater emphasis on the upper chest compared to a flat bench, helping to develop pecs and a stronger chest. The dumbbell fly is an isolation exercise, making it a perfect workout for the chest, particularly the pectoralis major.

By performing the incline dumbbell fly regularly, you will increase your chances of achieving a more defined and muscular chest.



Recommended sets

  • 3-4 sets


Tips on form for the incline dumbbell fly

  • Set the bench at an incline between 30-45 degrees
  • Control the movement
  • Maintain stability
  • Engage your chest as you push the dumbbells back up
  • Use proper breathing technique















6. Dumbbell pull over



The dumbbell pull-over primarily targets the muscles of the upper body, including the chest, back, and shoulders.

The exercise aids in chest development; it also engages the muscles of the upper back and the latissimus dorsi. The dumbbell pullover also targets various ancillary muscles such as the biceps, triceps, and forearms, although it is worth noting that ancillary muscles are not the primary target of the dumbbell pullover.


Recommended sets

  • 2-3 sets 


Tips on form for the dumbbell pullover

  • Engage your core
  • Control the movement
  • Start with a lighter weight












7. Dumbbell push up



The dumbbell push-up is a chest exercise performed with dumbbells. The main muscles the dumbbell push-up targets are, you guessed it, the chest, pectoralis major and minor. It also targets the shoulders and the triceps brachii.

Push-ups with dumbbells are great for improving upper body strength; they also help strengthen your core. The dumbbells increase the intensity of the exercise, adding an extra challenge and increasing the resistance, which helps build stronger muscles.

When the dumbbell push-up is done consistently, you can begin to increase the weight of your dumbbells, further adding to your progress and increasing your chances of having a pretty strong chest.


Recommended sets

  • 3-4 sets


Tips on form for dumbbell push ups

  • Align your body (no slouching or rounding the back)
  • Control the descent
  • Go as low as elbow level or just below
  • Increase the weight as you become comfortable with the exercise














8. Dumbbell squeeze press



The dumbbell squeeze press targets the pectoral muscles, but it also engages other muscles such as the anterior deltoids, the triceps brachii, and the core muscles. It is a fantastic exercise to develop your chest, giving you pecs that are worthy of being shown off.

It is a versatile dumbbell exercise for your chest, as you have the ability to change the weight, sets, and repetitions. It can also be an effective exercise to break through plateaus and challenge your chest muscles in a new way.

The squeeze press also uses additional muscles that act as stabilising muscles, like the triceps and deltoids.


Recommended sets

  • 2-3 sets        


Tips on form for dumbbell squeeze press

  • Keep your shoulders back and down throughout the exercise
  • Focus on maintaining slow and controlled movements
  • Engage your core muscles
  • Start with an appropriate weight













9. Dumbbell Svend press



The dumbbell svend press is actually quite a unique and underrated exercise. It is not a common dumbbell chest workout; it works the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Even though the dumbbell svend press is not as effective as some other chest workouts, it is still quite good at building muscle, particularly the shoulders and pectoral muscles.

The svend press is particularly good at isolating the chest muscles, making it an effective isolation exercise. It is also important to note that the svend press actually relieves unnecessary strain on the shoulders, reducing the risk of injury and maximising the effectiveness of the workout.


Recommended sets

  • 3-4 sets    


Tips on form for the dumbbell svend press

  • Maintain control throughout the movement
  • Use appropriate weight
  • Do not rush the movement
  • Stand upright, don't round at the back.













10. One arm dumbbell floor press



The one-arm dumbbell floor press targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The exercise isolates the chest muscles, but throughout the movement it also targets the triceps. As you extend your arm to press the dumbbell, the triceps are heavily involved in the movement, leading to improved triceps strength and definition.

The workout ensures you are isolating the chest muscles effectively; by performing the exercise with one arm at a time, you can place a greater emphasis on the chest.

The single-arm dumbbell floor press primarily targets the pectoralis major; as you press the dumbbell upward, the chest muscles contract, generating force to push the weight. This repeated activation and contraction of the chest muscles during the exercise contributes to their development and strength.

By using one arm at a time, you can improve any imbalances between the left and right sides of your chest.


Recommended sets

  • 3-4 sets


Tips on form for the one arm dumbbell floor press

  • Maintain slow and controlled movements
  • Do not rush the exercise
  • Do not use momentum 












11. Dumbbell push up renegade row



The dumbbell push-up renegade row is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups such as the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, and core.

The exercise targets multiple muscle groups in the upper body; the push-up part of the exercise works the chest, shoulders, and triceps, while the renegade row targets the back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids.

Since the dumbbell push-up renegade row is a workout that targets multiple muscle groups, it burns more calories, making it effective for overall fitness and fat loss.


Recommended sets

  • 3-4 sets


Tips on form for the dumbbell push up renegade row

  • Use appropriate weight
  • Always work to keep your hips and shoulders square to the ground.
  • Control the movement
  • Don't rush













12. Dumbbell T push up




The dumbbell T-pump targets the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. As the exercise primarily targets those areas, it helps to develop strength and muscle within those muscle groups.

The dumbbell T-push-up requires significant core engagement and stability. As you rotate your body and lift one arm off the ground, your core muscles work to stabilise and control the movement.

The rotational movement in this exercise challenges the shoulder joints. As you lift and rotate the dumbbell, you engage the muscles of the rotator cuff and the scapular stabilisers, improving shoulder stability and range of motion.

The chest muscles play a stabilising role during the push-up movement. Your chest muscles are engaged to help stabilise the movement and support your upper body.


Recommended sets

  • 3-4 sets


 Tips on form for the dumbbell T push up

  • Focus on maintaining stability
  • Keep the movement slow and controlled
  • Focus on achieving a full range of motion












chest exercises with dumbbells without bench



Standing dumbbell upward fly


This exercise specifically targets the deltoids, which are responsible for raising the arms and rotating the shoulders. By regularly performing the standing dumbbell upward fly, you can strengthen and stabilize the shoulder joint, improving its overall strength and functionality.



 Dumbbell floor hammer press

The dumbbell floor hammer press is an effective exercise for targeting the chest muscles. It engages the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, helping to strengthen and develop these muscles. This can lead to increased chest size, strength, and definition.



Dumbbell floor alternating chest press


The alternating nature of this exercise helps address any strength imbalances between the left and right sides of your chest. By pressing one dumbbell at a time, you can ensure each side of your chest is working independently, which can help improve muscle balance and symmetry.


Dumbbell pull over on exercise ball


Dumbbell pullovers primarily target the muscles of the upper body, including the chest (pectoral muscles) and the back (latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior). Performing them on an exercise ball adds an extra challenge, leading to increased activation of these muscles to stabilize your body on the unstable surface.


 Dumbbell incline press on exercise ball


The dumbbell incline press primarily targets the muscles of the chest, specifically the upper portion of the pectoralis major. By performing this exercise on an exercise ball, you increase the demand on the chest muscles as they work to stabilize your body on the unstable surface, leading to enhanced muscle activation and development.






Tips to maximise results and effectiveness when doing dumbbell chest exercises.

Focus on maintaining proper form throughout each exercise. This ensures that you're targeting the intended muscles and minimizing the risk of injury. Seek guidance from a fitness professional if needed.

Select a weight that allows you to perform each exercise with proper form and control. Gradually increase the weight as you get stronger and more comfortable with the movements.

Continually challenge your muscles by gradually increasing the weight, reps, or sets over time. This progressive overload stimulates muscle growth and strength gains.

Incorporate different dumbbell chest exercises to target your muscles from various angles and engage them in different ways. This helps prevent plateaus and ensures overall chest development.

Include exercises that target both the upper and lower chest muscles, such as incline presses and flat presses. This helps achieve balanced chest development and symmetry.

Give your chest muscles sufficient rest and recovery between workouts. This allows for muscle repair and growth. Aim for 48 to 72 hours of rest before training the same muscle group again.

Include both compound exercises (involving multiple joints and muscle groups) and isolation exercises (targeting specific muscles) to effectively stimulate your chest muscles.

Consistency is key to achieving results. Aim for regular workouts, adhering to a well-structured training program that includes dedicated chest training sessions.




We hope you enjoyed this list, let us know if we are missing anything or just give us some general feedback in the comments below. 


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