Dip bars, rowing machines, leg press machines, etc. are a must for bodybuilding, right?
But what if you are stuck at your home with just a set of dumbbells lying by the side of your bed and you cannot go outside?
If you cannot imagine such a condition, just think of the year 2020.
You may be wondering if it is possible to build a muscular chest with just a pair of dumbbells.
Well, yes, you can. Even though bench press is the first exercise that comes to your mind when we talk about building massive chest muscles, there are a lot of dumbbell chest exercises without bench out there that you can incorporate in your home workout routine and pump up your chest.
During all of these quarantine days, you may have been asking yourself how you will build chest muscles with dumbbells without a bench.
Finally, the quest is over! Both men and women can mix these 10 exercises to target their pectoral muscles from all different angles, and by a couple of months, you’ll be noticing a thicker, more muscular, and well-developed chest.
Before that, have a quick look at what muscles are we targeting here.
10 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without Bench
- Decline Dumbbell push-ups
- Svend Press
- Standing dumbbell chest fly
- Dumbbell floor press
- Exercise ball dumbbell chest flys
- Standing chest press
- Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Press
- Dumbbell Push-Ups
- Dumbbell pullovers
- Hip-Bridge Dumbbell Chest Press
Moving on this article, we will be focusing on the fundamental exercises and techniques which can help us isolate our pectoral muscles with just a set of dumbbells and no bench at all.
Upper Chest Dumbbell Exercises Without Bench
Decline Dumbbell push-ups
The fact that makes push-ups the great chest exercise is the possibility of many different variations. In fact, if you master the variations of push-ups and start targeting every other muscle group of your chest, you are not far from getting a broader and fuller chest.
Bodyweight exercises are merely exceptional. But you can make it even better by optimizing the amount of weight you’re pushing.
How much weight are you pushing with regular push-ups?
80% maybe or even less.
But imagine this. If you place your foot on a higher platform like a low slab or a bench, it will increase the resistance as the center of gravity shifts towards your upper body. Thus, It does nothing but upgrades the degree of muscle activation in your chest area. Although your front delts are going to do a little bit of work here, the maximum stress is gonna be in your upper chest.
Thus, The key here is the higher your feet, the harder it will be for you to push.
The dumbbells are going to increase the range of motion. However, don’t lower yourself too much as you don’t want to hurt your shoulders also.
You can make it even harder by lifting one leg off the surface while you do Decline push-ups.
There won’t be any problem if you don’t pronounce it right, but please do it correctly to reap its benefits to the fullest. Svend press is one among the best standing chest exercises and can be done as a part of a home chest workout, which can be performed using dumbbells or weight plates.
Svend Press is a strange yet fundamental move that targets your chest muscles. You may think it targets deltoids instead of the chest, you are not 100% wrong here. Like every other pressing exercise, Svend Press also targets shoulders, but if you do it incorrectly form, you can easily target you tiny little pecs.
Chest muscles respond so effectively if you use isometric contractions to target them. It implies that the movements that activate our pecs in a specific range of motion and make them work lead to maximum muscle fatigue. It is merely an early sign of muscle growth.
Svend chest press is nothing different. All we are doing in those peculiar in and out motions of dumbbells or weight plates is we are creating isometric contraction. It isolates the inner pectoral muscles, and the constant squeeze that you maintain maximizes muscle engagement throughout the exercise.
In fact, the triceps engagement is nearly equal to zero, and we’re able to contract our chest muscles, inner pecs primarily, isometrically in both inward and outward motion. I bet Svend Chest Press will leave your pecs pumped like never before.
“In the gym, Svend press can be done as a pre-workout warm-up to activate your chest muscles or as a post chest workout finisher at the end.
Lower Chest Dumbbell Exercises Without Bench
Standing dumbbell chest fly
Standing chest fly is an excellent way to give pectoral muscles stretch and contraction. Actually, you don’t even need dumbbells and do it with bare hands. Also, if you do, you are better off with smaller-sized dumbbells as you are, again, not targeting your shoulders here.
By maintaining your arms perpendicular to your body and using lighter dumbbells, targeting your chest will be really easy. Although it may seem ineffective unless you try it yourself, the standing chest fly will help you build muscle strength and power, More force equals more muscle growth.
Women get equally benefited from Standing chest flies can it help in lifting their breast and giving them perkier looks.
It is definitely, not as effective as bench chest flys, but I swear it is an excellent post-workout move to supplement push-ups or other chest exercises.
Standing chest flys works your chest, shoulders, and triceps too. Standing chest flys is regarded by Healthline as an excellent chest opener and is one of the perfect examples of exercises for scapular retraction.
Opening up the chest occurs as a result of an increased range of motion, and it will help in reducing your upper back pain and tightness in your upper body.
Exercises that cause scapular retraction will help you stand erect by improving your posture and enhancing your shoulder strength.
Thus, it is an excellent idea to incorporate dumbbell chest flyes in your chest workout at home with dumbbells for three times a week, and you will be able to open up your chest, improve your posture, and retract your shoulders.
Whole Chest Dumbbell Exercises Without Bench
Dumbbell floor press
As you will notice us mentioning standing chest press further down, there’s no chance that we could leave out the dumbbell floor press.
Dumbbell floor press does not actually seem like an effective chest exercise when you have exercises like bench press out there. The shorter range of motion done by lying flat on the floor: Does it appeal to you like a challenging exercise?
Well, it may not, unless you give it a try.
Actually, if you had a bench, the dumbbell floor press would have been a great exercise to complement bench press or chest flys, which, together, would create a fantastic hardcore workout session. But since you don’t have one, it is not a big problem.
The dumbbell floor press emphasizes your chest muscles primarily and triceps too. It is a pushing exercise, all pushing motion involves a few of your shoulders also.
An increase in your triceps size and strength plus the hypertrophy of your pectoral muscles are the potential benefits of doing Dumbbell floor press. Doing 10-15 reps with challenging weight will secure the best results for you.
“Drawbacks changed into benefits !” But how? Since we think that a shorter range of motion declines the effectiveness of the workout, it is not so. Instead, it will allow you to push heavier loads with no potential risk of injuries. Thus, the partial range of motion will increase your strength over time, which will benefit you for the other chest exercises.
Exercise ball dumbbell chest flys
Traditional chest flys which are done by lying back on a bench, are very useful for developing chest and arm muscles. However, swapping the bench with an exercise ball(stability ball) will activate your core muscles too and make it a great core workout also.
While doing exercise ball dumbbell chest flys, you will be using your core muscles for balance and stability.
Stability ball chest fly is an isolation exercise that targets mainly your chest and can be done with a pair of dumbbells and a stability ball. In case you don’t have an exercise ball also, then you can pile up one or two pillows and do it by lying on them.
In fact, the dumbbell chest fly strengthens several muscle groups of your body at once. It targets the sternal head of your pectoralis major (upper chest) muscles, and side by side, it also targets your deltoids, biceps, triceps, and brachialis (wrist muscles) too.
Exercise ball chest flys have more potential to enhance your chest than traditional push-ups. Research conducted by ACE to determine which is better for chest activation between push-ups and chest flys concluded that dumbbell chest flys created more muscle activation than traditional push-ups and stability ball push-ups.
Thus, incorporating exercise ball chest flys into your chest workouts without a bench to train pectoral muscles, it is definitely going to be beneficial for your chest development.
Standing chest press
Standing chest press puts constant tension in your pectoral muscles without creating visible lengthening and shortening. It is a great way to flex your pectoral muscles and can be an essential part of your static strength training routine.
That means standing chest press is simply an isometric exercise just like a concentration curl, and like other isometric exercises, it requires very less weight to produce significant benefits. It exerts constant contraction throughout the movement and maximizes muscle engagement.
Standing dumbbell press engages the whole chest muscles and keeps them under constant compression. It activates the chest muscles efficiently and stimulates the muscle fibers to grow. This way, you can induce more muscle growth in your chest.
You will find the maximum point of contraction when your arms are fully extended. Thus, the end is not letting your arms drop by using lighter dumbbells and keeping them in line with your chest. While doing a standing chest press, you can just play with the angle and find out the sweet spot, which causes maximum pump and burn. Remember that it is vital to keep your core tight and shoulders back. This will ensure that you put very little stress on your lower back, and it also increases your ability to push the dumbbells further away from you.
Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Floor Press
The single-arm dumbbell chest press is an exercise for all strength athletes and bodybuilders. It is an awesome example of an effective single dumbbell chest workout. Thus, it is a crucial exercise for building your upper body strength, inducing muscle hypertrophy, and, most importantly, reducing any muscular imbalances and movement issues you have in your body due to intense bilateral exercises. Basically, your pectoral muscles are involved in generating the power for pressing up the Dumbbell. The primary benefit of doing single-arm dumbbell press is that you can increase the range of motion, especially during the eccentric part of the lift, which increases pump and contraction in your pectoral muscles. The benefit of Eccentric exercises: exercises are a perfect way to build muscles fast and increase power while also decreasing the chances of injuries.
The single-arm Dumbbell presses not only target your chest muscles but also your triceps at about ending points of elbow flexion and also shoulder stabilizers, which enhances the stability. I suggest you keep your shoulder blades retracted and focus on building a mind-muscle connection and stable movement.
Unilateral exercises are known for enhancing muscle activation, and can you can do it for general fitness or muscle hypertrophy and strength building purposes. Many fitness enthusiasts like incorporating the single-arm dumbbell press in most of their accessory programs to develop movement coordination, muscle building, and increasing core and hip stability.
With all those variations present out there, there is no denying the fact that push-ups are the best alternative to chest press.
When push-ups are done correctly, that means with your elbows in and close to your body, push-ups are definitely the boss of all bodyweight exercises. It targets your chests, triceps, core, forearms, and even other muscle groups depending upon how you vary your position.
Generally, since we’re looking for chest exercises with dumbbells, we are gonna make use of dumbbells here. It is similar to using paralleletes in calisthenics. You can use paralleletes or dumbbells, the only thing is you increase your range of motion and achieve better contraction in push-up muscles like chest mainly, triceps, anterior and lateral delts too.
It’s because they use dumbbells instead of bare hands is gonna give you more depth and more range of motion. It increases the stretch in your pectoral muscles and raises the blood flow in there. However, going too low possesses harm to your shoulders. Thus, I suggest you lower only up to where it is comfortable.
Dumbbell pullovers, also called chest pullovers, are great exercises to target your chest muscles(pectoralis major) and lat muscles(latissimus dorsi).
Also called as postural exercises, it keeps your spine stretched and back stable. Thus, it will add flexibility in your chest muscles and upper body, which often becomes tight and stiff with a lot of desk jobs.
Dumbbell pullovers are great resistance exercises while they also stretch your chest muscles. Thus, weight training movements like pullover increases the muscle gaining potential due to their chest muscle stretching factor.
As it is one of the best non-bench chest exercises, you can even increase the number of muscles involved by performing it in an exercise ball. What this does is, it asks your core to get involved in maintaining the overall balance and ensuring you remain stable in the exercise ball. It makes the movement even more challenging and risk-free. How it makes, risk-free, is that it supports your neutral spine and prevents it from reaching hyperflexion when the weight is hanging behind your head.
As there are two target muscles of dumbbell pullovers, you should master the technique to engage more of your pecs than lats. It is not that hard to do.
You can easily target your chest with dumbbell pullovers by rotating your arms inward rather than flaring them outwards.
Hip-Bridge Dumbbell Chest Press
Bridge Dumbbell Chest Press can simply be called the home version of the decline bench press. It can be incorporated in your home chest workout routine as it targets your middle and lower chest ( lower portion of pectoralis major ) effectively.
By transforming your body into the shape of a bridge by elevating your hips, you can target the same lower chest, which would have otherwise required an inclined bench.
The unique benefits of hip-bridge dumbbell chest press are that it targets your lower chest even more than flat or incline presses, and it is a plus point for you to build a broad, round, and defined chest.
Moreover, the decline position is said to shift the load from your anterior delts and triceps to your chest and activate your lower pecs instead fully.
The hip-bridge dumbbell chest press can also improve your form on the bench press. You may have seen powerlifters raising their hips while doing the bench press. What they are doing is they are maximizing their bench press capacity by engaging the glutes and hips. The drive created by engaging your entire lower body, even feet pressing on the floor, will keep your upper body locked in and stable. That undoubtedly optimizes your bench press max.
You can use a mat to lay on as it will remove any sort of discomfort caused by pressing your bones on the floor and making the movement more comfortable.
Hence, you can make the hip-bridge dumbbell chest press can be a part of your home dumbbell workout.
Dumbbell Only Chest Workout Without A Bench
You can try this workout that I designed for you by incorporating the exercises I mentioned above. I tried my best to include exercises to target all of the chest muscles and develop both muscular strength and size.
The workout is divided into three compound sets:
|COMPOUND SET 1|
|Svend Press||12 reps||3 sets||45-sec rest|
|Decline Dumbbell Push-ups||15 reps|
|COMPOUND SET 2|
|Dumbbell Floor Press||12 reps||3 sets||1-min rest|
|Exercise Ball Dumbbell Chest Fly||10 reps|
|COMPOUND SET 3|
|Hip – bridge dumbbell chest press||12 reps||3 sets||1-min rest|
|One Arm Dumbbell Floor Press||8 reps|
Please keep in mind the importance of correct form and techniques and their impact on muscle growth. If you don’t feel like you’re getting that chest activation, watch the visual illustration provided above to learn the correct form. Here is a LINK to dumbbell exercises without a bench PDF which you can download and save it on your phone for future use.
You don’t require costly gym memberships, trainers, and a room full of equipment to build the muscles. Chest exercises that are performed on a bench can easily be done on the floor or an exercise ball too. All you require is a pair of dumbbells and a pinch bit of creativity. Slight alteration made to regular exercises wipes out the need for a bench for an effective chest workout. That is how dumbbell chest exercises without bench were first designed. Besides, if you don’t have a dumbbell also, be creative and make use of water bottles, bulky books, brick, or even bare hands. You just need to imagine that your pectoral muscles are getting activated, and they’re contracting and expanding while you’re counting on the rep. That’s it. Is this article helpful? Let me get your feedback in the comments below. Also check out this full upper body workout routine to add mass and strength.
FAQs on Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without Bench
How do you build chest muscles with dumbbells without a bench?
To build a chest with only dumbbells and no bench, perform the chest exercises that make your arms cross over each other or cross the midline of your body, which ensures a maximum chest contraction. Basically, we need to perform exercises that cause horizontal adduction at the shoulders.
How can I build my chest without a bench?
Well, it depends on what other equipment you have. If you have no bench but have a set of dumbbells, you can perform the at-home chest exercises that contract and stretch your pectoral muscles and have a good range of motion. You can also find out the best isolateral or unilateral chest exercises with only dumbbells and hit them up.
Can you do a dumbbell press without a bench?
Yes, it might not allow you the same range of motion, but it is equally effective in targeting the pectoral muscles. Moreover, by doing chest exercises on the floor, you can use heavier weight on exercises like a floor dumbbell press and increase the strength of your chest muscles.
How do I train my chest with one Dumbbell?
One dumbbell chest workout can be done by creating a workout plan by incorporating the following home chest exercises. You can perform any unilateral chest exercises from the list below.
1. One-Arm dumbbell bench press
2. Dumbbell Pullovers
3. Arm Dumbbell Around the World Fly
4. Standing upward chest fly one side at a time
5. Side to side push-ups