How To Build a Big Chest with Dumbbells

November 24, 2021 8 min read

how to build a big chest with dumbbells

Everyone wants a strong, good-looking chest, but you can only achieve it if you do the correct exercises that target those specific muscle fibers. This is where a dumbbell set can be particularly beneficial.

If you’re wondering how to build a big chest with dumbbells, then this post is for you.

We compiled a list of the best dumbbell exercises to help you develop your chest, from the top to the bottom.

Exercises With Dumbbells That Will Build Your Chest

Dumbbell Floor Press

how to get bigger pecs with dumbbells

If you find that normal bench presses just aren't effective for you due to wrist or elbow joint issues, then you might want to opt for the dumbbell floor press.

This  upper body dumbbell workout without a bench primarily targets your triceps, chest, and shoulders. The dumbbell floor press is also known as a compound exercise, meaning that it involves multiple muscles, which will burn more calories, and elevate your heart rate.

When you execute this dumbbell exercise with good form, it will be more effective in building your chest muscles.

How To Perform the Dumbb­ell Floor Press

Firstly, you can grab a set of heavy dumbbells and get into a seated position on the ground. Lay down with the dumbbells laying down outside where your hips are. Your knees should be bent, feet flat, and shoulder blades are pressed into the floor.

Secondly, press the dumbbells up towards the ceiling. Your palms should not rotate outwards and forwards like you would do if you were using a barbell. Instead, your palms should face each other.

Thirdly, lower the dumbbells down until your upper arms rest on the floor. Make sure to keep your elbows at 45 degrees to your rib cage, and avoid flaring your elbows out.

You can then press the weight back up and repeat.

Diagonal Dumbbell Raise

get bigger pecs with dumbbells

The dumbbell diagonal raise is an isolation exercise that will strengthen and condition your shoulders, neck, upper back, and upper body.

This exercise is carried out while standing, so it will primarily target your shoulders. Even so, it does a good job at working those chest muscles as well.

How To Perform the Diagonal Dumbbell Raise

You start by standing tall with your feet at hip-width apart. Grip 1 light dumbbell in one hand placed in front of the opposite side’s hip. Your palm will face towards your body.

Raise the weight in a diagonal motion across your body and out to the side. Meaning, raise the dumbbell up and across your body. Take a pause and keep your hand higher than the height of your shoulder. Ensure that you tense your shoulders throughout this diagonal motion.

You can then return your arm to the first position.

You should avoid using too much momentum when performing this exercise. Instead, aim to go through the movements in a slow and controlled manner.

Renegade Row and Push-up Combo

building a big chest with dumbbells

This dumbbell exercise will work your chest and upper back at the same time.

It also improves the functionality of your core. Meaning, the abdominals are forced to stabilize your body.

This is a great  chest workout with dumbbells for women too.

How To Perform the Renegade Row and Push-up Combo

You should start by gripping a dumbbell in each hand and getting onto all fours. Walk your feet out into a push-up position. Make sure that your feet are wider than your shoulders, and place your hands underneath your shoulders.

Do not let your hips sag, this will place unwanted pressure on your lower back.

Your body needs to be in a straight line from your head to toes, with your shoulder blades pushed back and chest out. Let your head sink to prevent stress on your neck.

Shift your body weight slightly to the opposite side that you will be rowing on. You can do this by rotating your torso away from that side. This will stop you from falling over once you bring the dumbbell off the ground.

Bring your shoulder back, and hoist the weight off the ground. Your arm still needs to hang straight down.

To stay in the same position, squeeze your core tight, and pull your elbows up towards the ceiling to perform the row. When your weight has come up to your chest, lower it back to the ground in slow motion.

Repeat the row on the other side.

Finally, perform a push-up on the dumbbells. That is one repetition.

Single-arm Dumbbell Press

This is one of the best  dumbbell chest exercises that will improve your stabilization strength.

Your chest muscles are the main muscle group that is required to perform the single-arm dumbbell press. In addition, this workout targets your triceps, shoulder stabilizers, and your core.

Single-arm dumbbell exercises can help you if you have muscle strength imbalances because it does not allow for muscle overcompensation. Meaning, one muscle does not work harder to compensate for the weaker side.

It is an easy, non-complicated exercise that anyone can do.

You choose whether you want to use a decline, incline, or flat bench.

We will be explaining the exercise being performed on a flat bench.

How To Perform the Single-arm Dumbbell Press

Firstly, lie back on a flat bench, grip a dumbbell in one hand, and extend your arm until it is straight. Make sure that the dumbbell is in line with your shoulder.

When performing the press, you might notice that your body is trying to roll off the bench. Resist this force by engaging your core.

In a controlled and slow motion, bend your arm and lower the dumbbell to your chest’s side.

This is one repetition.

Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press

Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press

The reverse grip dumbbell is performed with an underhand grip, which activates your upper chest muscles.

This exercise is perfect for anyone prone to shoulder injuries. This variation of the dumbbell press, lets you flip your hands. This lessens the pressure on your shoulders and in turn, reduces the risk of injury.

How To Perform the Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press

Firstly, grab a pair of light dumbbells, and lay down on a flat bench. If you are using heavier dumbbells, reduce the number of repetitions that you perform in each set.

Use a supinated grip (your palms face up towards you) to hold the dumbbells near your chest.

Secondly, hoist the dumbbells over your chest in an arch-like path, which goes in a line from your sternum to your shoulders.

Pause for a second when the dumbbells are above you, and then gradually, lower it back down. When you bring the weight down, make sure that you lower the weights to the side of your chest. This will ensure that you use a full range of motion.

This will be one repetition.

As you go through each repetition, your elbows need to be close to your ribs. Do not flare your ribs out.

Hex press

Hex press

If you want to do an  inner chest workout with dumbbells, then this one's for you.

This is also another great exercise for anyone who struggles with shoulder injuries. The hex press requires a neutral grip which reduces the amount of external rotation and lessens the pressure on your shoulder joints.

It also brings about more chest activation. Meaning, there is more pushing power required of the inner chest’s muscle fiber. This results in an overall stronger chest. 

You can perform this movement on a flat, incline, or decline bench. 

To effectively work your fuller chest, you can do this on a flat bench. If you want to work your upper chest more intensely, it is advised to angle the bench at a slight angle.

We will discuss this exercise being performed on a flat bench.

How To Perform the Hex Press

Grab two medium-weight dumbbells. Preferably use hexagonal dumbbells. These dumbbells will allow you to press them together more comfortably. 

Start by setting yourself up on a bench. Pick the weights up and place them onto your knees. 

Lie down, with the dumbbells held in a neutral grip comfortably above your chest’s center.

Make sure that your palms face inwards when you press them together. When doing the pressing motion, make sure that you squeeze tightly through the dumbbells. Think of it as a “crush press”. Maintain tension in your chest and do not completely lock out your elbows.

Lower the dumbbells, bringing them down towards your chest in a controlled movement. Your hands should be around your upper abdominals or at your lower chest. 

This will be one repetition.

Dumbbell fly

Dumbbell fly

Last on the list is the classic dumbbell chest fly. This isolation movement will build you a well-rounded physique, and the best chest definition.

This exercise has a ton of benefits. It will increase overall strength, and improve muscular balance. 

You can perform the dumbbell fly on a flat, decline, or incline angle. 

This is a great  lower chest workout with dumbbells if you do this on a declining bench.

This exercise will be explained by being performed on a flat bench.

How To Perform The Dumbbell Fly

Firstly, grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, facing your palms in. Your dumbbells need to be positioned in the crest of your hips.

Lay yourself down onto a flat bench, with the weights near to your chest. Make sure that your feet are placed firmly on the ground. 

Push the dumbbells out towards the ceiling. Pinch your shoulder blades together, and unlock your elbows. The slight bend in your elbows will prevent extra strain on the biceps, and take the tension off your chest.

Lower the dumbbells in a slow, lateral motion to perform the fly. Maintain the angle at your elbow while doing this and do not let your arms go down too far during the fly to avoid shoulder issues. 

The dumbbells will be in line with your chest on each side. Reverse the movement to bring it back up. When it reaches the top, squeeze your pectoral muscles.

This is one repetition.

What Are the Benefits of Working My Chest with Dumbbells?

It Allows a Greater Range of Motion

You can lower the dumbbells past chest level, which stretches your pecs and activates more muscle fibers. A larger range of motion will lead to more muscle growth.

It Places Less Stress on Your Joints

With a pair of dumbbells, you can rotate your wrists freely, and let your elbows and shoulders move in a way that is comfortable for them. This allows you to customize the exercises that work with your body.

For this reason, the tension is placed on your muscles and not your joints.

It Works Your Pecs Harder

Dumbbells are quite effective at training your pecs intensely. According to this study, dumbbell bench presses are shown to activate your pecs more effectively than the barbell bench press of the Smith machine bench press.

To Conclude

Many people think that the only way to get a broad chest is to press heavily by using a machine or barbell. Dumbbell training is enough to contract those chest muscles and get the best results possible.

You can do any of these exercises right away to develop a broad chest.

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