Walk into any gym, and you’ll find a line of people waiting to get on the only chest press bench. Chest exercises seem to be a favorite among gym-goers. They provide aesthetically pleasing muscles and functionally offer many benefits to the chest and shoulders.
However, there’s more to chest exercises than the barbell bench press. Anytime I work with a client, I go directly to the dumbbells.
Dumbbells not only provide muscle growth but, more importantly, the stabilization and equilibrium most people won’t get from a barbell.
Look at any guy’s chest who only uses a barbell, and you’ll see that one of his chest muscles is larger. However, with a dumbbell, you’ll find equal size chest and arm muscles.
The best part about dumbbell exercises is you don’t even need a bench. They allow you to be creative with your exercise choices, and you no longer need to hover around the bench area waiting for that guy to get up!
The Need for Chest Exercises
As we age, we lose important muscle mass. We tend not to see the importance of going to the gym anymore. However, this is a mistake! It’s more important for older people to go to the gym than younger.
If you do go to the gym, you may find yourself staying away from chest exercises. You ask, “what’s the point in having big chest muscles at my age?”
Well, don’t skip out yet!
Chest muscles are essential for older populations as well because:
Now that I have convinced you of the benefits of chest exercises, especially those with dumbbells, let me tell you about my top 6 dumbbell chest exercises you can perform without a bench!
Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without a Bench
Neutral Grip Floor Press
The best place to perform dumbbell chest exercises without a bench is the floor! If you’re a little older or work more of a sedentary desk job, this will be one of the best exercises!
The neutral grip immediately takes the pressure off of the shoulders. Most desk workers have some postural imbalances that put more pressure on their shoulders, so pressing exercises aren’t always ideal.
However, the neutral grip and the shortened range of motion provided by the floor put you in an optimal position to benefit from this exercise.
Instructions for Neutral Grip Floor Press
Start out lying on the floor with your knees bent but feet on the floor. Grab your dumbbells and raise them into position. To get into a neutral grip, all you need to do is turn your palms to face each other.
Now, you’re going to keep your elbows tucked closer to your side. Not only will your chest get a great workout, but so will your triceps. Lower the dumbbell slowly until your elbows touch the ground. Keep your arm at a 90° angle, pause at the bottom, and then push the dumbbell back up.
Boom! You completed one rep; you’re on fire!
This exercise is going to target your entire chest with the added benefit of toning those arms!
Floor Dumbbell Fly
Another great floor-based chest exercise is the dumbbell floor fly.
This exercise will target the whole chest; however, you’ll target the upper chest more than the lower chest.
Instructions for Floor Dumbbell Fly
Start the same way you would for the neutral grip floor press with your feet close to your body, knees up, and palms facing each other.
From here, you’re going to lower the dumbbells to your sides with a nice bend in your elbows. Keep the angle somewhere between 90° and straight. Too straight, and you’ll feel some discomfort in your shoulders, and too bent, you won’t get the full benefit of the exercise.
Once your elbows touch the floor, and you feel a nice stretch in your chest, begin to raise the dumbbells to their starting position.
This exercise will feel different compared to the floor press. You will feel your chest stretching more, which is fine!
Dumbbell Floor Svend Press
Looking at the name of this exercise, you’re probably thinking, “what is this guy on right now?” But hear me out, this is a great exercise!
The floor Svend press is a great way to target the lower chest.
Instructions for Dumbbell Floor Svend Press
You start just as you would the above exercises; however, the difference here is you’re squeezing the dumbbells together to get some extra muscle activation.
You’re still in a neutral grip, and you’ll just lower the weights to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
It sounds similar to the neutral grip press, but squeezing the dumbbells adds some difficulty to the exercise. There is also more usage of your triceps and shoulders!
This makes for a great, well rounded upper body exercise.
Dumbbell Deficit Pushup
Yes, I have included a pushup variation on this list! Pushups are one of the best chest exercises out there. The added benefit here is the deficit.
Instructions for Dumbbell Deficit Pushup
This will hit your entire chest. The set up can be a few different ways. The first and safest is to set up like a standard push up, but you’ll be holding the dumbbells in your hands. This gives you a little lift and provides for more range of motion in your push up.
The second way is to stand the dumbbells up, giving yourself about 8-10 inches of height off the ground.
Safety is a priority here! Listen to your body. Don’t try to overstretch your range of motion as you could do some harm to your shoulders. Work your way up to this exercise.
Dumbbell Seated Incline Press
This exercise will blast your upper chest and get your shoulders more into the mix, depending on your angle. Don’t worry, though; your chest will definitely feel this in the morning.
Our upper chests don’t always get the love they deserve, especially if we don’t have a bench. But with a little creativity and we can mimic the exact motion of an incline press.
Hitting those upper chest muscles will provide us with aesthetically pleasing Hollywood chests we see in the movies.
Instructions for Dumbbell Seated Incline Press
How do I do an incline press without a bench??
Well, you have a couch, correct? Well, then you can do this exercise no problem.
All you need to do for positioning is
1. Sit in front of your couch.
2. Lean back, so you’re at an angle, and your head is above the cushion
Three easy steps.
Glute Bridge Floor Press
Our last exercise and one of my favorites!
Without a bench, it’d difficult to get the same range of motion as the floor. Although some of you may have a stability ball, not everyone will.
This exercise is meant to give your chest more of a stretch while also dominating your lower chest muscles. Just think of this as your decline press.
The setup for this is pretty simple.
Instructions for Glute Bridge Floor Press
Start by planting your feet firmly into the ground with your knees bent to about 90°. From here, drive your feet into the floor and raise your hips. Make sure you aren’t arching your lower back!
Your upper back will be planted firmly into the ground. Squeeze your glute muscles and keep your core tight, and you’re ready to go!
You’re going to feel more of a stretch, especially in your lower pec muscles.
You now have an Arsenal of dumbbell chest exercises you can do anywhere. Use these exercises to get a killer chest pump without a bench.
Using these exercises, I’m sure your chest will be feeling it I the morning!