You don’t need the gym to build a stronger chest — just a pair of dumbbells and these 5 moves

a man lying on a mat performing dumbbell presses
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The key to building chest muscle isn't just about hitting your upper body at the gym every day. You can get a great chest pump at home so long as you have a dumbbell to work with and these five exercises.

This minimal equipment workout comes from fitness trainer Matt Fox and is one to save for your next upper body session. Strengthening your chest muscles not only enhances your upper body physique but more importantly contributes to overall upper body strength and functional fitness. 

Thanks to the versatility and accessibility of dumbbells, you can achieve impressive results from the comfort of your home or gym, regardless of your fitness level. If you're interested in the benefits of progressive overload training, it could be worth getting your hands on a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells. This style of weight allows you to work with multiple weight sizes from one model. 

Ready to check out this chest routine?

Centr Smart Stack 50 Adjustable Dumbbells: was $249 now $199 @ Walmart

Centr Smart Stack 50 Adjustable Dumbbells: was $249 now $199 @ Walmart
These adjustable dumbbells vary from 5 to 50 lbs with adjustments in 5 lb increments. Featuring a comfortable rubber handle, they ensure a secure grip, even during intense workouts. Simply rotating the handle allows for quick load changes, making them perfect for pairing with Centr's virtual workouts.

What is the workout?

There are five exercises to complete. Fox demonstrates each move in the video above and also includes recommendations on how many reps to aim for in each exercise. However, it's fine to create your own rep and set numbers for a routine like this as you learn the moves and get comfortable with the weight.

Incorporating these five exercises into your dumbbell chest workout can contribute to significant strength gains and enhanced muscle definition. How come? Well let's take a look at each exercise.

Crush grip push-ups engage not only the chest but also the stabilizing muscles in your shoulders and arms. Low dumbbell flies isolate the chest, emphasizing muscle activation during the eccentric phase. When you come to the offset push-ups, these will help to challenge core stability as well as the chest, meaning you get a little ab burn while you're at it. The dumbbell pullovers engage both the chest and upper back muscles, promoting balance across your upper body muscles. Lastly, single-arm floor presses will assist in addressing any muscle imbalances and promote unilateral strength.

Your chest muscles play a crucial role in various daily activities, including pushing movements like lifting objects or pushing doors. Strengthening these muscles not only can improve your physique but also improve functional fitness.

Don't feel like you need to start heavy. Using lighter weights initially and gradually increasing resistance as strength improves can help prevent overloading and maintain proper form throughout the workout. Maintaining good form is important in any workout to maximize results and reduce the risk of injury. Proper form ensures that the chest muscles are properly engaged throughout each movement, minimizing strain on other muscle groups and joints. As you try this routine, focus on controlled movement and use your breathing to support the exercise.

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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.