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December 20, 2021

Top Dumbbell Chest Exercises for Men and Women

The one big drawback of the great barbell bench press, it limits maximal muscle growth. This is something you’ll hear professional bodybuilders often say, and that’s why they opt to use dumbbells more often because of the fact that they can supply you with more muscle growth.

 

Not only are dumbbells going to be better for muscle growth, but ask any powerlifter, and they’ll say dumbbells are also a whole lot safer.

 

Anatomy of the Chest Muscles

The chest is comprised of two major muscles: Pectoralis Major and the Pectoralis Minor; the latter being located below the Major. There is no difference in these major muscles in men and women and there the training workouts for men and women should be the same. The main goal of these chest muscles is to bring the humerus (upper arm bone) across the body, with secondary functions being flexion, adduction, and rotation.

 

In regards to training, the chest is split into three regions: Upper, Middle, and Lower. These work in planes, with more activation in certain exercises: Incline work activates upper chest, Flat work activates middle chest, and Decline work activates lower chest.

 

Thus, a good and full chest workout should be hitting all three areas of the chest.

 

Best Dumbbell Exercises

As mentioned before, dumbbell exercises really allow us to bring the humerus across the body, which will allow maximum for maximal muscle growth. Also, since the dumbbells do not lock the shoulders and elbows in a specific path like a barbell does, they are also a whole lot safer.

 

Here follows some of the best dumbbell exercises for a whole chest workout:

 

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

Grab two dumbbells in the middle of the handle. Set them on your thighs as you sit on a weight lifting bench, that is set to an incline. Lay back onto the bench while raising the dumbbells straight above your chest, with the ends of the dumbbells meeting one another.

 

Slowly lower the dumbbells by letting the elbows flare slightly, try not to put pressure on the shoulders. Lower dumbbells to about 5cm or lowest point before pain sets in the shoulder/chest, whichever comes first. At this point, press the dumbbells to the top position. This is one rep.

 

 

Incline Dumbbell Chest Flys

Grab two dumbbells in the middle of the handle. Set them on your thighs as you sit on a weight lifting bench, that is set to an incline. Lay back onto the bench while raising the dumbbells straight above your chest, with the ends of the dumbbells meeting one another.

 

With a slight bend in the arms (about 15 degrees), start by lowering your arms in a “hug-like” manner. The goal is to lower the dumbbells as far as your chest and shoulder mobility allows, at which point you bring your arms together towards the initial position again.

 

 

 

Flat Dumbbell Chest Press

Exactly the same as Incline Dumbell Chest Press, but on a Flat bench. You will however be able to get a bit more depth.

 

 

Flat Dumbbell Chest Fly

Exactly the same as Incline Dumbell Chest Fly, but on a flat bench.

 

 

Flat Dumbbell Floor Press

Sit on the floor, with holding two dumbbells on your thighs. Carefully, lie flat on the ground, still holding the dumbbells and let your elbows sit on the floor next to your body – not at 90 degrees – but at 80 degrees in relation to your torso.

 

Press the dumbbells up until they are straight above your chest, ends touching one another. Lower the dumbbells until your elbows touch the floor softly. That’s one rep.

 

 

Decline Dumbbell Press

Exactly the same as Flat Dumbell Chest Press, but on a Decline bench. Be careful as this can be very strenuous on your shoulders, so make sure that you control your depth.

 

 

Floor Dumbbell Fly

Sit on the floor, with holding two dumbbells on your thighs. Carefully, lie flat on the ground, still holding the dumbbells and let your elbows sit on the floor next to your body – not at 90 degrees – but at 80 degrees in relation to your torso.

 

With a slight bend in the arms (about 15 degrees), start by lowering your arms in a “hug-like” manner. The goal is to lower the dumbbells as far as your chest and shoulder mobility allows, at which point you bring your arms together towards the initial position again.

 

 

Floor Dumbbell Pullover

Sit on the floor, with holding one dumbbell on either of your thighs. Carefully, lie flat on the ground, still holding the dumbbell (with your hands on the inside of one side of the plates) and hold the dumbbell above your chest.

 

With a slight bend in the arms (about 15 degrees), start by lowering your arms overhead. The goal is to lower the dumbbells as far as your chest and shoulder mobility allows, at which point you bring your arms together towards the initial position again. This exercise will supply a massive stretch in the chest and lats as well.

 

 

Flat Hex Dumbbell Floor Press

Sit on the floor, with holding two dumbbells on your thighs. Carefully, lie flat on the ground, still holding the dumbbells and let your elbows sit on the floor next to your body – not at 90 degrees – but at 20 degrees in relation to your torso (A neutral grip)

 

Press the dumbbells up until they are straight above your chest. Lower the dumbbells until your elbows touch the floor softly. That’s one rep.

 

 

Underhand Dumbbell Floor Press

Sit on the floor, with holding two dumbbells on your thighs. Carefully, lie flat on the ground, still holding the dumbbells and let your elbows sit on the floor next to your body – not at 90 degrees – but at 80 degrees in relation to your torso, palms facing towards your face.

 

Press the dumbbells up until they are straight above your chest, ends touching one another. Lower the dumbbells until your elbows touch the floor softly. That’s one rep.

 

 

Designing your Program

Home Dumbbell Chest Workout

For a complete chest program, you’d want to combine exercises from all three planes (Upper, Middle, and Lower) to make sure your whole chest has a chance to grow.

 

Beginner

1.) Floor Dumbbell Press: 5 x 8 – 12

2.) Floor Dumbbell Fly: 5 x 10 – 12

3.) Floor Dumbbell Hex Press: 5 x 8 – 10

 

Intermediate

1.) Floor Dumbbell Pullover: 5 x 8 – 12

2.) Floor Dumbbell Fly (With 3 second negative hold before you push back up): 4 x 12 – 14

3.) Floor Dumbbell Hex Press (With a 3 second negative hold before you push back up): 4 x 8 – 10

4.) Underhand Floor Press: 4 x 8

 

Gym Dumbbell Chest Exercises

Beginner

1.) Flat Dumbbell Press: 4 x 8 – 12

2.) Incline Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 10 – 12

3.) Decline Dumbbell Press: 3 x 8 – 10

4.) Floor Press: 4 x 8

 

Intermediate

1.) Flat Dumbbell Press: 4 x 8 – 12

2.) Flat Dumbbell Fly: 4 x 12 – 14

3.) Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 x 8 – 10

4.) Floor Press: 4 x 8

5.) Decline Dumbbell Press: 3 x 8 – 10

 

To Conclude

Dumbbells are without doubt one of the best tools you can use to grow and stimulate chest growth. With the addition of working in all three planes, you can really maximize gains.

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Steve


Steve Theunissen is from New Zealand and is a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with over 30 years experience. Read more about Steve in the 'about us' page.

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