11 Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without a Bench At Home

11 Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without a Bench At Home

A bench is a valuable addition to any home gym. Yet you don’t need a bench to get a great chest workout

With nothing but a pair of dumbbells and the floor beneath your feet, you’re able to work all your pec fibers for maximum growth. 

But only if you know which exercises to do.

In this article, I’ll lay out eleven dumbbell chest exercises you can do at home without a bench.

Exercise #1: Floor Press

Bridge Dumbbell Chest Press
Photo: Youtube@Perno Performance

Why Do It:

The floor press is the same movement as the dumbbell bench press, except that the floor limits your range of motion. That’s not a problem because you don’t need to go lower than a 90-degree elbow bend for maximum pec stimulation. If you do, you run the risk of shoulder joint strain.

The floor press allows you to go heavier than you could with a standard dumbbell bench press. The floor gives you a slight assist, providing a solid platform to press from. 

How To Do It:

  1. Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and sit behind them with your knees bent.
  2. Grab the dumbbells and roll back to lie flat on your back with the weights above your chest at arm’s length.
  3. Face your palms away from you and touch the dumbbells together.
  4. Lower the weights under control until your elbows touch the floor.
  5. Press back to the starting position.

You can do plenty of chest exercises without a bench. But many people are worried about not getting the full depth during a bench press. Get the facts on bench press depth here.

Exercise #2: Floor Flyes

Dumbell Floor Flies
Photo: Youtube@Curls in the Rack

Why Do It:

Floor flyes are similar to the bench version, except that you are limited in your downward movement. That is actually a good thing. Taking your arms lower than the level of your torso is problematic for the shoulder joint. So, the floor actually serves as a built-in safety barrier.

How To Do It:

  1. Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and sit behind them with your knees bent.
  2. Grab the dumbbells and roll back to lie flat on your back with the weights above your chest at arm’s length.
  3. Face your palms together and touch the dumbbells to each other.
  4. Bend your elbows slightly and keep your arms locked in that position.
  5. Pivot from the shoulder as you bring your arms out and slowly down to touch your elbows to the floor.
  6. Reverse the action to return to the start position. The only movement should come through the shoulder joint.

Exercise #3: Bridge DB Chest Press

Bridge Dumbbell Chest Press
Photo: Youtube@Rebecca Blankfield

Why Do It:

The bridge version of the floor dumbbell chest press will bring your posterior chain into the movement. Your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae will get a workout along with your pecs, delts, and triceps

How To Do It:

  1. Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and sit behind them with your knees bent.
  2. Grab the dumbbells and roll back to lie flat on your back with the weights above your chest at arm’s length.
  3. Lift your hips into the air as you keep your feet firmly planted on the floor. Maintain this bridge position throughout the exercise, being sure to keep a neutral spine position.
  4. Face your palms away from you and touch the dumbbells together.
  5. Lower the weights under control until your elbows touch the floor.
  6. Press back to the starting position.

Exercise #4:DB Floor PullOver

Dumbbell Floor PullOver
 Photo: Youtube@The Active Life

Why Do It:

The floor pullover will give your pecs a great stretch. The old belief that it will expand your ribcage has been debunked but it's still a decent chest move.

How To Do It:

  1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and a single dumbbell held above your chest at arm’s length in both hands by one end with a cupped grip.
  2. Breathe out as pivot from the shoulder to bring the weight back and down behind your head. Go all the way back until the dumbbell touches the floor. Do not bend the elbows.
  3. Breathe in as you return to the start position. 

Exercise #5: DB Push-Ups

Dumbbell Push-Ups
  Photo: Youtube@GPS Human Performance

Why Do It:

The dumbbell push-up is more wrist-friendly than the standard push-up. It also allows you to go a few inches deeper than the standard push-up. 

How To Do It:

  1. Get down on the floor in the start position of a push-up with a pair of dumbbells in your hands. If possible, use hexagonal dumbbells as these will sit flat on the floor. Take your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Maintaining a straight line from head to foot, lower down below the level of the dumbbells to fully stretch the pecs.
  3. Push back to the start position. 

Exercise #6: DB Squeeze Press

Dumbbell Squeeze Press
 Photo: Youtube@David Kimmerle

Why Do It:

The squeeze press is a combination between an isometric hold and a horizontal adduction move. Do it at the end of your workout for an awesome finishing pump.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a single dumbbell held in both hands at chest level. Your hands should be clasped together around the ends of the dumbbell so that you are holding it horizontally.
  2. With the dumbbell touching your chest, forcefully squeeze your pecs together.
  3. Press the dumbbell out to full arm extension, maintaining the squeeze as you do so.
  4. Return to the start position, making sure that the dumbbell does not drop toward the floor as you do so.

Exercise #7: Renegade Push-Ups

Renegade Push-Ups
Photo: Youtube@John Garey TV

Why Do It:

The renegade push-up is a combination move that works the back muscles as well as the chest. The constant switching between lat and pec work will give you an awesome upper body pump.

How To Do It:

  1. Get down on the floor in the start position of a push-up with a pair of dumbbells in your hands. If possible, use hexagonal dumbbells as these will sit flat on the floor. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders.
  2. Row the left-hand dumbbell up to your ribcage.
  3. Perform a push-up.
  4. Row the right-hand dumbbell up to your ribcage.
  5. Continue in this alternating manner to complete your rep count.

This is just one more exercise that you should be doing on chest day.

Exercise #8: Standing DB Upward Flye

Standing Dumbbell Upward Fly
Photo: Youtube@Shugyo2

Why Do It:

This is a great chest exercise to target the mid to inner pecs. Do it at the start of your workout to get your chest fibers ready for the heavyweight work to follow. 

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a pair of dumbbells at your sides, with palms facing forward. Bend your elbows slightly and keep them locked in that position.
  2. Start by moving the dumbbells out about six inches from your thighs. Now pivot from the shoulder joint to bring your arms up and across your body so that the weights meet at upper chest level. Forcefully squeeze your pecs in this top position.
  3. Lower under control, being sure to keep the elbows bent.

Exercise #9: Standing DB Svend Chest Press

Dumbbell Svend Press
Photo: Youtube@4everBods

Why Do It:

The Svend Press, named after the former world’s strongest man Svend Karlsen, is a combination of isometric contraction and horizontal adduction. It will give you an awesome pec pump with a relatively lightweight.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a single dumbbell held in both hands at chest level. Your hands should be clasped together around the handle with the weight being vertical.
  2. With the dumbbell touching your chest, forcefully squeeze your pecs together.
  3. Press the dumbbell out to full arm extension, maintaining the squeeze as you do so.
  4. Return to the start position, making sure that the dumbbell does not drop toward the floor as you do so.

Exercise #10: DB Floor Hammer Press

Dumbbell Floor Hammer Press
Photo: Youtube@MG Online Coach

Why Do It:

The floor hammer press places less stress on the shoulder joint than the standard dumbbell press. It also brings the triceps more into the movement. 

How To Do It:

  1. Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and sit behind them with your knees bent.
  2. Grab the dumbbells and roll back to lie flat on your back with the weights above your chest at arm’s length.
  3. Face your palms toward you and touch the dumbbells together.
  4. Lower the weights under control until your elbows touch the floor.
  5. Press back to the starting position.

Exercise #11: DB Floor Alternating Press

Alternating Dumbbell Floor Press

Why Do It:

The alternating press is a unilateral movement that allows you to work each pectoral muscle by itself. That will help you to overcome any strength and development irregularities between the two sides of the body.

The alternating press also develops your core and stabilizer muscles. These are called into play to balance your non-working arm and keep your body balanced. 

How To Do It:

  1. Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and sit behind them with your legs straight.
  2. Grab the dumbbells and roll back to lie flat on your back with the weights above your chest at arm’s length.
  3. Face your palms toward you and touch the dumbbells together.
  4. Lower the left arm weight under control until your elbow touches the floor. Keep your right arm in the extended arm position.
  5. Press back to the starting position. Repeat with the right arm.
  6. Alternate from arm to arm to complete your rep count.

There’s been a long debate about whether weights or cardio are best for overall fitness. But there are plenty of benefits of strength training for weight loss. And these exercises just scratch the surface. 

Wrap Up

You now have an arsenal of dumbbell chest exercises that you can do at home without a bench. Use them to create your workouts, with each one consisting of three or four exercises and 12-14 total sets. Hit your chest twice per week for the best gains. 

Check out Strong Home Gym’s research into the best adjustable dumbbells if you want a pair for your home gym. 

 

Related: The Best Chest Exercises with Bench

 

Written By Steve Theunissen

Steve joined his first gym at age 15 and, five years later, he was managing his own studio. In 1987, he became the first personal fitness trainer in New Zealand. Over the past decade, he has built a freelance fitness writing career to share his fitness passion with the world.


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