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How do I train my chest with dumbbells?

By Surabhi Agrawal October 02, 2020

Dumbbells are probably the most basic chest exercise equipment – that’s why they are very popular among any fitness enthusiast!

Lie down on a bench or simply squat for a simple chest workout. Any fitness enthusiast knows that a 30 minutes dumbbell workout can work wonders for you! No need for an expensive gym machine – just a pair of dumbbells and you are set!

But if you are a beginner, the most common question is how do I train my chest with dumbbells?

In fact, though dumbbells are known for being useful in developing the chest muscles without other exercise equipment, this is only one aspect of its many benefits. Read on to find out more!

Train your Chest Back Muscles with Dumbbells


Dumbbells vs other Fitness Equipment

  • Stability - The first aspect of chest exercise using dumbbells is based on stability, since all the other equipment like treadmills offer supporting structures to exercise a specific muscle. However, the free weight of dumbbells makes it harder to stabilize and makes it possible to train other small adjacent muscles of shoulders and arms while the pectorals benefit from the weight of the dumbbells.

Dumbbells for training

  • Stretchability - Additionally, when one exercises the pectorals using more specialized heavier equipment, the bar restricts the range of motion preventing the pectorals from stretching fully.

  • Effectiveness - When comparing the results of the training session with dumbbells and other equipment like a curl bar the effectiveness of dumbbells is much higher in the same weight range. As the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research indicates that the maximized stretching leads to higher muscle growth it can be said that dumbbells are more effective in a lower weight range than high-end equipment.

Benefits of Dumbbells

Benefits of the dumbbells lie in the pairing of the equal weights that allow the same benefits of higher-end equipment while offering higher benefits. 

Dumbbells Workout


  • Usability - The best way for using dumbbells is using a pair of dumbbells while doing basic stretches which allows each side of the body to optimally adjust their motions to ensure the full stretching of the muscles of the pectorals while the shoulder muscles also work hard to stabilize the weights.

  • Complete upper body workout - The exercises using dumbbells focus on the different areas of the chest which can be optimized as per your needs.

  • Beginners - For beginners, the best way for developing a ripped and muscular chest is probably to use an adjustable dumbbell where one can add more weights to the sides of the dumbbells as the strength grows. This allows the chest muscles to be strained appropriately during the growth of the pectorals after a few months of exercise. This is also more economical as using fixed dumbbells will require multiple sets of weights to be bought regularly making this a continuing expense that can be avoided by using adjustable dumbbells.

Here’s a Video that shows 12 Best Dumbbell Exercises –

*Video Courtesy : Yatinder Singh (YouTube)

Using Dumbbells in Different Ways

Using dumbbells in different ways can help you use the same equipment for exercising your upper-middle and lower chest. 

The slight incline bench press or fly press can help exercise the muscles of the upper chest and minimize the joint strains that are common after using the bench press bars for a long time.

 Simple Dumbbell Workout

These exercises can use the same inclined bench while the motion of the arms encumbered by the weight of the dumbbells. The sets of repetitions can be adjusted as per the level of comfort and fitness goals as well as your strength.

The crush press and fly press on a flat bench can help exercise the muscles of the middle and inner chest as the movements help emulate the effect of cable crossovers emphasizing the muscular tension of the inner chest.

The fly press also excludes the tension on the triceps and focuses the weight solely on the pectorals resulting in a higher level of straining inciting greater muscle growth.

 Dumbbells with Bench Exercise

The decline bench press can help build up the muscles of the lower chest as the declined position puts a higher level of pressure on the lower chest region which stimulates an overall balanced growth of the chest muscles.

Therefore, dumbbells can act as a complete chest workout solution, so buy one as per your fitness requirement.


As beginners we need to have a clear understanding of the objectives and limitations of our bodies before starting using dumbbells. It is possible to injure chest muscle and arms and elbows through excessive strains.

However, the risks can be minimized by stretching the muscles before exercising & moderating the number of sets and repetitions in the initial session as you get a clear idea of your capabilities.

Warm up either with traditional exercises like push-ups or modern stretches like Rafiki elbow, arm screw, and mobile table drills, as you need to stretch and relax the muscles making the muscles ready to take on the weight of the dumbbells during an exercise session.

How do you use your pair of dumbbells to train? Share with us.


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