Building your chest with dumbbells at home

If you can smash it at the gym, you can kill it at home–all you need is some simple equipment and the know-how to get results. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can’t build your chest with dumbbells at home. There are ways and means to do just about anything if you want it bad enough–sculpting your chest at home is one of them–and we’re here to show you exactly how to do that.

Forget the machines

Building muscle is more about how much you’re willing to put into your workout and less about the machines that will help you do it. A lack of machines should not stop you from having the solid pecs you want. You can still get them with dumbbells–it’s just a matter of know-how.

Why use dumbbells to build your chest?

Dumbell workouts home gym incline press

Bigger gains. Dumbbells might not be as flashy as a loaded barbell, but they’re actually very effective in building your pecs. The secret is in the need to stabilize your joints–when you’re hammering out those reps, your shoulder joints are working hard to balance the weights in each hand while your pecs are trying their hardest to control those weights. Together, this means big gains for you.

Chest activation. Blasting your pecs is the name of the game and dumbbells are one of the best tools to do that. They activate parts of your chest–by this I mean the pectoralis major–more than when you’re bench pressing.

Full range of motion. With dumbbells, your range of motion goes past your chest level–something that’s just not possible with barbells. A wider range of motion allows you to perform full, powerful stretches which equal bigger muscles.

Less injury. Barbells assume our bodies are symmetrical (they are not) and push our bodies to work in ways that can lead to injury. Dumbbells let your body move in the way it was designed to–freely and fiercely. Unlike barbells, they let you rotate your wrists and elbows and put less stress on your joints.

Be smart when buying dumbbells

You don’t need to drag your butt all the way to the gym to get your hands on some quality dumbbells–just invest in a good set and build your own home gym from there.

When it comes to buying dumbbells, you’ll be looking at either adjustable or fixed dumbbells. Fixed dumbbells are cheap and durable, but you’ll need more than one pair if you want to maximize your strength gains. Adjustable dumbbells, on the other hand, allow you to adjust the weights on them, so you only need one pair. For advanced trainers, heavier weight kits (usually sold separately) are a must.

Once you’ve got a solid pair of dumbbells, it’s time to start hitting those reps. Here’s how it’s done.

How to bulk up your chest

Upper Chest

Get the pecs you’ve always wanted with these two powerful moves!

Slight incline, significant growth. This is called the Slight Incline Dumbbell Bench Press.

Start by elevating your bench with a step or barbell plates. You’re looking for a 30-degree angle or less.
Lie on the bench while you hold two dumbbells at an arm’s length right above your chest.
Bend your elbows slowly, then pull your shoulder blades back and lower the dumbbells to where your elbows can make a 45-degree angle with your chest. Do not hold them out at your sides!
Pause, then push upwards to flex that impressive chest.

Fly for bigger pecs. The Incline Fly Press is another effective pecs-building workout.

Set your bench to a low incline of not more than 30-degrees.
Lie on the bench, your head resting on the elevated side, holding your barbells up in the air above your chest, and your palms facing in.
Drop the dumbbells down to your sides while bending your elbows and pulling your shoulder blades inwards.
Reverse that movement once you straighten those arms out until they’re raised above you.
This exercise is tough on your shoulders–take it slow and limit your range of motion when you feel pain.

Inner and Middle Chest

Don’t forget your inner and middle chest muscles while you’re pumping iron!

Crush it. The Crush Press is a great way to activate these often-overlooked chest muscles.
Lie on your bench and hold two dumbbells right above your chest. Your palms should be facing each other.
Keeping the dumbbells at the center of your chest, push them up until your arms are fully extended. Pause and then squeeze those chest muscles.
Slowly bend your elbows when lowering the dumbbells.
Reverse this motion and repeat.

Lower Chest

Complete your chest workout by ending with this lower chest exercise!

100% chest power. The 45 Degree Floor Press is great for stimulating your lower chest muscles.

Lie on the floor with your knees bent, back straight and your feet flat and firmly planted.
Hold your dumbbells high above your chest. The dumbbells should be in a slightly horizontal position and your wrists should be straight.
Lower the weights. Make sure your elbows stay at your sides.
Keep lowering until your triceps hit the floor.
Push the weights back up and start again!

Homegrown pecs

You don’t need all that fancy equipment to start seeing results–you just need the right tools and the discipline to keep going. Even if you start small, you’ll notice those chest muscles expanding in no time. Remember, no matter where you work out, it’s your mindset that will turn you from a beginner to a pro.

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