Forget push-ups — this 5 move dumbbell workout builds your chest and a strong upper body

a woman on a gym bench performing dumbbell chest press
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Our chest muscles come into play everyday, whether that be trying to nail a set of push ups, pushing a door open, or carrying your groceries in from the car. Incorporating strength building exercises for your chest muscles into your fitness regime is a good idea and we've found an excellent dumbbell routine to get you started.

You might be thinking that you'll need a bench to perform this chest workout but all you need is a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells or a standard pair of dumbbells and something soft to place between the ground and your back for added support, such as one of the best yoga mats.

The workout comes from fitness trainer Natalie Wilson and is especially helpful for beginners as the exercises are performed either lying or kneeling on the floor to add more stability to common upper body moves that typically require a bench.

What is the workout?

There are just five exercises to familiarise yourself with. Wilson's demonstrations of each move can be found below and it's definitely worth giving this a watch to learn what proper form looks like for each exercise.

You will perform each move for 10-12 reps and should aim to complete three to four sets in total. Here's a list of each exercise.

  • Triple pulse chest fly (lying down) 
  • Narrow to wide chest press  (lying down) 
  • Hex press (lying down) 
  • Kneeling supinated front raise
  • Kneeling hex press  

As we briefly touched on earlier, taking popular dumbbell chest exercises to the floor adds stability to your upper body workout. When you lie flat on the floor, your back and legs are firmly supported, providing a solid foundation for performing thes dumbbell movements. 

This added stability can help you focus more on isolating and targeting the chest muscles without worrying about balance or dropping the weights from a height. Additionally, the floor limits the range of motion, which lessens the risk of overextending and straining the shoulder joints.

Similarly, for the latter two exercises you perform them kneeling on the floor as opposed to standing up. Kneeling provides a stable base, reducing the risk of swaying or using momentum to lift the dumbbells. With greater stability, the more control you will have over the movement, execute better form and maximize the effectiveness of the exercises.

Is this chest workout worth adding to your workout regime? Absolutely. The chest muscles are integral to various upper body movements, such as pushing, lifting, and pressing. By strengthening the chest, you can enhance your overall upper body strength and functional fitness, making exercise and everyday exercises easier and more efficient.

Additionally, your chest muscles play a role in maintaining good posture. Strengthening the chest can help counteract the forward rounding of the shoulders (slouching) often associated with poor posture, helping to create a more upright stance and reducing strain on the upper back and neck muscles.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.