Complete dumbbell chest workout (6 dumbbell exercises)

Author: Joep Rooijmans, date: 12 jan. 2020


dumbbell chest workout

A chest (pectoralis major) workout completely performed with dumbbells has a lot of advantages. You don’t have to wait for a bench press to become available (which are always taken) and you don’t run the risk of being trapped underneath a barbell when you overestimated your power during that last rep.

 

Dumbbell chest exercises are easy to perform and, when done right, ensure enormous muscle growth.

 

This dumbbell chest workout consists of 6 different exercises. All you need is a set of dumbbells and you are good to go!

 

This article explains what makes dumbbell exercises so effective. Plus, it includes a complete chest workout including 6 of the most effective chest dumbbell exercises.

 

 

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What makes (chest) dumbbell exercises so effective

dumbbell chest workout

If dumbbell exercises are so effective, why do I see other guys in the gym only using a barbell to train their chest?

 

I’m not saying that performing a chest workout with a barbell or machines is bad or not effective. On the contrary, I include the bench press in most of my chest workouts!

 

But working out with just dumbbells has a number of significant advantages over barbell and machine exercises.

 

Greater range of motion

They allow a greater range of motion. Allow stretching of the chest muscle which enhances muscle gain. A barbell would hit your chest during a bench press, dumbbells allow you to put more stretch on the muscle.

 

The range of motion of a barbell exercise is relatively limited. As soon as the barbell touches your chest there's only one way left and that's back up.

 

Enhances natural movements

While performing dumbbell exercises, your wrist and elbows are free to move in the direction that feels natural. Dumbbell exercises put less pressure on your joints.

 

This lowers the risk of (joint)injuries.

 

A barbell exercise limits joint movements. You are 'stuck' with limited movements as the barbell basically ties your hands together.

 

No cheating possible

When you perform a barbell or machine exercise you can compensate a lack of strength of one part of your chest. Let’s say that your left pec is less developed. When it’s starts giving up during a barbell press your right side will take over and starts compensating.

 

This is not possible when you perform a dumbbell press. Both your left and right side have to save themselves and push that dumbbell back up with their own strength.

 

The fact that both parts of the chest (left and right) have to work equally hard contributs to the development of an allround bigger and stronger chest!

 

 

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Chest workout: muscle building technique

dumbbell chest workout

In order to focus on building muscle mass it´s important to align your workout plan accordingly. The elements that you have to align are number of sets, number of reps, weight and rest time.

 

Number of sets: 3 to 4

Perform 4 sets for the first exercises. When you start to lose strength at the end of your workout you can lower the number of sets to 3.

 

Try to reach 4 sets as long as possible.

 

Number of reps: 8 to 12

The rep range sweet spot for building muscle mass is 8 to 12 reps per set.

 

When you perform less than 8 reps you are shifting towards increasing muscle strength as your primary goal.

 

Performing more than 12 reps means you are increasing muscle stamina instead of building muscle mass.

 

Weight: 75% of 1RM

The weight which you perform your dumbbell exercises with is crucial when you want to develop muscle mass.

 

As stated above, the rep range for each set is 8 to 12 reps. Therefore you have to select a weight that allows you to perform at least 8 reps.

 

If you perform 12 reps and still have energy left the you have to increase the weight. Otherwise the workout loses its effectiveness.

 

The selected weight to build muscle mass should be around 75% of your 1RM.

 

RM stands for Repetition Maximum. It refers to the heaviest weight with which you can perform 1 rep.

 

Example: your 1RM for the dumbbell chest press is 80lbs/36kg. In order to build muscle mass you perform 8 to 12 reps with 60lbs/27kg (75% of 80lbs/36kg).

 

Rest time: 60 to 90 sec.

Your rest time in between sets is 60 to 90 seconds. Don’t rest longer than 90 seconds. Although you want to give your muscle some time to recover, they shouldn’t be recover completely.

 

You want them to be torn apart at the end of your workout so keep hitting them with more reps before they are completely recovered!

 

 

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Dumbbell chest workout: 6 dumbbell exercises

dumbbell chest workout

This workout includes exercises that target every part of the chest muscle:

  • Incline press exercise to target the upper part of your chest.
  • Horizontal press and push up exercises to target the central part of your chest.
  • Decline press exercise to target the lower part of your chest.
  • Fly and close grip exercises to target the middle part of your chest.

 

Performing 6 consecutive chest exercises puts a lot of stress on the chest muscle. This workout is not suitable for beginners. Only advanced athletes are advised to perform this chest dumbbell workout.

 

 

workout summary

dumbbell chest workout

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dumbbell chest exercise 1: dumbbell press (flat)

  • Put the bench in a horizontal position.
  • Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground.
  • Your palms face forward.
  • Arch your back during the entire exercise.
  • Press the dumbbells up and bring them together above your sternum.
  • Lower the dumbbells and stretch your chest muscle.
  • Then bring the dumbbells back to starting position.

 

 

dumbbell chest exercise 2: incline dumbbell press

  • Put the bench in an incline position.
  • Arch your back and let your palms face forward.
  • Press the dumbbells up and bring them together above your sternum.
  • Lower the dumbbells and stretch your chest muscle.
  • Then bring the dumbbells back to starting position.

 

dumbbell chest exercise 3: decline dumbbell press

dumbbell chest workout
  • Put the bench in a decline position by placing a weight underneath
    the bench.
  • Arch your back and let your palms face forward.
  • Press the dumbbells up and bring them together above your sternum.
  • Lower the dumbbells and stretch your chest muscle.
  • Then bring the dumbbells back to starting position.

 

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dumbbell chest exercise 4: dumbbell fly

dumbbell chest workout
  • Put the bench in a horizontal position.
  • Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground.
  • Stretch your arms out to the side, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Make sure 
    that the palms of your hands are pointing inwards.
  • Bring the dumbbells together above your sternum, keeping your arms stretched 
    when you perform the exercise.
  • Flex your pecs as you perform the exercise.
  • Then slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position.

 

dumbbell chest exercise 5: close grip dumbbell press

dumbbell chest workout
  • Put the bench in a horizontal position.
  • Lay on your back and put your feet flat and firmly on the ground.
  • Start with both dumbbells resting on your chest.
  • Push them together and press them up.
  • Stretch your arms and the dumbbells, keep the dumbbells above your sternum.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back towards your chest by lowering your elbows
    next to your body.

 

dumbbell chest exercise 6: dumbbell push up

dumbbell chest workout
  • Grab both dumbbells, your palms face each other.
  • Place your feet next to each other.
  • Your body forms a horizontal position.
  • Lower your chest towards the ground by lowering your elbows. Just before
    you touch the ground, press yourself up again.