The chest muscles are often underutilised in fitness — it seems that the back, biceps, legs, and abs get the most attention! We are here to remind you how crucial working out your chest is, especially if you desire a strong and powerful physique.
However, if you don’t have the right equipment, you may feel hesitant.
No problem! You CAN strengthen your chest with limited gear; you simply need to know about the proper exercises to add to your routine.
Continue reading to learn about some of the best dumbbell chest exercises without a bench!
Can You Have a Good Chest Workout Without a Bench?
The short answer? Yes, you can! Though a bench does make specific chest exercises easier, you may not always have access to one when you work out — the gym may be too crowded, or you may feel like working out at home.
Nonetheless, there are several ways you can work around this.
10 Dumbbell Chest Exercises You Can Do Without a Bench
1. Push-ups With Dumbells
Let’s start with the most basic yet essential exercise — the push-up! This exercise requires little to no equipment. Here are our top tips for perfecting your form.
- Place your feet on an elevated surface if you struggle with your form.
- Stretch the joints in your wrists beforehand. We’ve linked some recommended yoga poses, here.
- Use dumbbells to elevate your wrists, as this can help take some of the strain off of your joints. Grab a pair and get into a plank position.
- If you wish to see REAL results, get low! A half or quarter push-up won’t work your chest muscles as well!
2. Tricep Dips
Did you know tricep dips can also work out your chest? Use a chair if you’re at home to complete the exercise and place a dumbbell on your lap to add resistance. If you’re at the gym, you don’t need a bench. Look for the assisted pull-up machine or a power tower to use instead.
3. Landmine Press
This exercise will require some equipment. However, it’s an excellent exercise for your chest and deltoids! It will target and grow the upper part of your chest. To perform this exercise, wedge a barbell against two walls. The end should rest in the corner where the two walls meet and should form a fulcrum-type lever.
Lift the other end of the barbell with your arm and push the bar up towards the sky. Add weight for more resistance if necessary.
4. Floor Press
This is another simple exercise. Simply swap out the bench for the floor. Lie supine with a dumbbell in each hand. Press them up towards the ceiling and bring the weights back down.
5. Dumbbell Pullovers With a Stability Ball
Looking to increase the difficulty of any exercise? Add a stability ball. This exercise offers the perfect balance of core training while simultaneously working the chest muscles. Lie on a yoga or stability ball with a light dumbbell in each hand.
Start with the dumbbells over your head. Bring them up and stop once your arms are perpendicular to your body. Lower them back overhead to complete the rep.
6. Standing Chest Flys
For this exercise, start by grabbing a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your palms facing the floor and raise them to shoulder height. Keep a bend in your elbows and bring the weights back down. You may also use the chest fly machine if your gym has one.
7. Svend Press
This exercise will give your chest a solid pump! Weightlifters will often use weighted plates to maintain a proper form. However, you can use a single heavy dumbbell instead. Grab one dumbbell, and hold it up to your chest.
Keep a slight bend in your knees. Then, press outward until your elbows are fully extended. Bring the weighted plate back in towards your chest to complete the rep.
8. Diamond Push-Ups
Though we’ve already mentioned doing push-ups for a more muscular chest, this variation is so effective, it earns its own spot on this list. Diamond push-ups are also a killer move for the triceps.
Get into a standard push-up position while holding a pair of dumbbells. However, instead of placing your arms shoulder-width apart, bring your elbows in. Your hands should be directly underneath your chest and form a diamond shape.
9. Standing Press
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place a dumbbell in each hand. Raise them to your shoulders and push upwards. Bring the weights back down to your shoulders to complete the rep. This exercise should also work your deltoids and core muscles.
You can also perform this exercise seated in a chair.
10. Lateral Raises
Looking for a great way to end your upper body workout? Lateral raises are a great exercise to incorporate into your routine. Perform these until failure if you’re a glutton for punishment. Keep your arms at your sides. Raise them slowly, ensuring that your arms are straight. Raise them until your wrists are at shoulder level and bring them back down.
An Example Chest Workout
We have modelled a great chest hypertrophy workout to follow if you’re struggling to put an effective regime for this crucial upper body day.
- Begin the workout with a quick warm-up. We highly encourage the use of resistance bands to get your blood flowing and increase your range of motion.
- Start with the exercise that requires the most significant amount of force — the floor press. Select a set of moderate to heavy dumbbells. Ensure you use heavier dumbbells as your progress to increase your level of exertion. Perform 4 sets of 12 reps, with a 60-second rest in between.
- Perform either dips or flys next. Do 3 sets of 10 reps with a 45-second rest in between.
- Grab one dumbbell and do 5 sets of heavy Svend presses for 8 reps. Rest for 45 seconds in between.
- Perform 3 sets of 10 reps of standing presses with a 60-second rest in between.
- Superset diamond push-ups with body weighted dips — 3 sets of 10 repetitions each. Rest for 30-seconds in between.
- Finish off with elevated push-ups. Move your body in a slow and controlled fashion. Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions. Alternatively, finish off your workout with 3 sets of 8 repetitions of lateral raises. Rest for 30-seconds in between sets.
Selecting The Best Resistance for You
If you’re trying to strengthen your chest, always go for heavy weight and low repetitions. If you’re trying to make the muscle group appear larger, aim for hypertrophy training. Stick to moderate resistance and higher reps in the 8-12 range.
To choose the best resistance for you, think about how heavy the weight feels on the last three repetitions. If you’re struggling so hard your form crumbles, the weights may be too heavy. It should feel challenging but ultimately doable.
You want to ensure your back muscles don’t take over when doing specific exercises.
You don’t need a bench to complete a chest great workout. You DO, however, want to work every part of the chest — such as the upper and lower sections which can be hard to target. You need to incorporate a variety of effective chest exercises for the best results.
Feeling uninspired? Thankfully, we have rounded up some of the best chest exercises to get you great results in a shorter amount of time. Try the standing press or a set of elevated push-ups on your next upper body day.