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How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells (8 GREAT TIPS)

Upgrade your upper body.

This article and video contain an excellent blueprint on how to build a perfect chest with only dumbbells.

Each tip, technique and exercise have been chosen and explained by Jeff Cavaliere from Athlean X. Go check out his awesome YouTube Channel.

better chest muscles How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only DumbbellsSource: CrossFit Inc / Depositphotos

“If you want to learn how to build a perfect chest with dumbbells only, then you have come to the right video. I’m going to show you how to build your upper chest, lower pecs, and get a more defined middle pecs with 8 specific chest workout techniques that will help you to start sculpting your chest like never before.”

1. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells – Leg Drive

“It starts with a couple of mechanical keys that you want to make sure you are not abandoning just because you are using dumbbells to perform your chest exercises. First thing is making sure to keep using leg drive on the dumbbell bench press. Think about pushing your feet into the floor as if you would try and slide your body up the bench as you press the dumbbells away from your body at the bottom of the rep.”

“Keep in mind, it is important that you use heavier dumbbells to do this as they will be important to keep your shoulders pinned down to the bench and prevent your body from actually sliding.”

2. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells – Unilateral Weights and Thumb Tilt

“Next thing you want to take advantage of is the fact that when you build bigger pecs with dumbbells you have the independence of the weights that you can use to your advantage. When using a barbell, your hands are fixed to the bar and it is impossible to get any independent freedom of them during the press. With dumbbells, you can tilt your thumbs up, which will allow the dumbbells to be brought closer together into adduction at the top of the rep and get a better contraction of the pecs muscles as a result.”

3. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells – Underhand Dumbbell Bench Press

“Next, you want to explore the use of the underhand dumbbell bench press in order to build a perfect chest. This is particularly helpful when you are training at home and don’t have access to an incline bench. The flip of the grip helps to better engage the lats (always a good thing when learning how to bench press heavier) but also gives you the low and away to up and in path that gets a better contraction of the upper chest fibres.”

Strategies to Grow the Upper Chest as Quickly as Possible How to Get a Wider Chest Key to Bigger Pecs The Perfect Middle Chest Solution for More Defined Pecs Best Bench Press Variation for Chest How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only DumbbellsSource: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

4. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells – Use Drop Sets

“From here, you want to be sure that you are not forgetting to include drop sets in your chest workouts to build a bigger chest. This is helpful because it limits the number of dumbbells that you will need to build a big chest. In fact, you may not need any additional dumbbells at all if you simply drop to the floor immediately following your heavy set of bench press and rep out on pushups until failure.”

5. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells – Static Dumbbell Bench Press Technique

“Next, the static dumbbell bench press technique is another great way to levy a powerful attack against your chest muscles without needing a heavy barbell. Hold one arm steady as you press with the opposite arm. This is great for exposing one sided imbalances of the chest. The position you hold the dumbbell in makes it more or less difficult. Hold the dumbbell down near the chest for an even greater challenge.”

6. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells – Dumbbell Pullover

“Finally, three chest exercises for building a bigger chest are important to make sure you’re not overlooking. The first is the dumbbell pullover. Here you want to make sure you’re not pulling with the elbows with them flared out to your sides. This will engage the lats more than the chest. Instead, if you pull your hands together and squeeze your upper chest together you will drive the movement more with the chest and help it to grow bigger.”

7. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells – UCV Dumbbell Raise

“The UCV dumbbell raise is a great move for getting pecs muscle growth as it gets your chest into a more complete contraction with dumbbells, with more adduction possible at the top of the rep. Keep in mind that the weights used here will have to be lighter.”

8. How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells Chest Fly

“Finally, the chest fly is one of the better exercises for overloading adduction, but you can also take advantage of eccentric stress for chest growth by slowing the weights down and safely performing this on the floor rather than a bench. This chest exercise is one that often times gets done on a bench with light weights rather than as shown here with heavier weights, and your ability to build a bigger chest is compromised because of it.”

Video – How to Build a Perfect Chest with Only Dumbbells


  • 0:53 Leg drive
  • 1:41 Lead with thumbs for better contraction
  • 2:43 Underhand grip for upper chest
  • 3:47 Drop set
  • 4:35 Static dumbbell press
  • 6:00 Dumbbell pullover
  • 6:55 UCV Raise
  • 7:43 Heavy floor chest fly

Learn More

How to Increase Chest Size and Strength

Best Way to Train the Chest for Hypertrophy (Muscle Mass)

3 Hacks for a Bigger Chest

Upper Chest Exercises Ranked (Best to Worst)

9 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises

Chest Muscles

The chest muscles are a group of skeletal muscles in the upper limb. They form the bulk of the breast and are responsible for clavicular movement as well as several other actions, including respiratory function and stabilization of the scapulae.

The pectoralis major muscle is one of three muscles that make up this region; it also forms part of the anterior wall of the axilla (armpit).


The sternum is one of the few bones in your chest and consists of three parts: manubrium, body and xiphoid process. The manubrium forms the superior part of your breastbone. It’s located directly above your clavicle (collarbone) and provides support for other structures in this area.

The body of the sternum extends down to meet with the xiphoid process at its inferior end—this is where you can feel your heartbeat if you place two fingers on either side of it when lying down.


Ribs are curved bones that protect the heart, lungs, and other internal organs. There are 12 pairs of ribs in the human body. They connect to the sternum—a flat bone at the front of your chest—by cartilage, which allows them to move up and down when you breathe in and out.

Ribs also connect to vertebrae in your spine through ligaments (tough bands of tissue), allowing them to help support your body weight as you stand upright.

Intercostal Muscles

The intercostal muscles are the muscles that run between the ribs. There are 11 pairs of intercostal muscles, and they provide an important role in breathing and coughing.

The intercostal nerves are responsible for innervating these muscles. They originate from spinal nerves T1-T11, travel through intervertebral foramina, then enter thorax via intercostal spaces to supply their respective muscles. The first five pairs of upper ribs have no intercostals; instead they’re innervated by branches of C3-C7 spinal nerves (innervation is similar in lower ribs).

External Oblique Muscle

The external oblique muscle is the most superficial of the three flat muscles of the anterior abdominal wall.

It originates from the lower 8 ribs and inserts into the linea alba, lying deep to rectus abdominis. The external oblique muscle acts to flex, rotate, and compress the trunk.

Latissimus Dorsi Muscle

The latissimus dorsi muscle is located in the back and on the side of the body. It is a large muscle that helps to rotate your arm, pull it toward your back, and bend or lift objects that are heavy.

Pectoralis Major Muscle

The pectoralis major muscle is a large, fan-shaped muscle that makes up the bulk of your chest. It covers much of your upper body and is responsible for extending and adducting (bringing inward) the arm.

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The pectoralis major originates at the ribs 2 through 5 and inserts at the front end of your humerus (upper arm bone).

A large tendon connects this muscle to the front of your humerus just below where it joins into a ball-and-socket joint with your shoulder blade (scapula). When you contract this muscle during exercise, it pulls on its origin points to bring them closer together; this causes a convex shape in your chest that can be seen from above or below (see image above).

It also draws down on its insertion point so that it moves forward away from you. This action brings about full extension of the arm when working against gravity; when performing basic maintenance tasks such as raking leaves or shoveling snow, you’ll use both adduction and extension motions together.

Pectoralis Minor Muscle

The pectoralis minor muscle is a small triangular muscle that lies underneath the pectoralis major muscle, and originates from the third to the fifth ribs.

It inserts into the coracoid process of the scapula. The function of this muscle is to depress and adduct your shoulder blade, as well as providing stability for several other movements of your shoulder joint.

Serratus Anterior Muscle

The serratus anterior muscle is a muscle of the chest that originates from the upper eight ribs and inserts into the medial border of the scapula. It acts to protract and depress the scapula, or move it forward towards your spine.

The serratus anterior helps you push against resistance in activities such as throwing a punch or swinging a golf club.


The serratus anterior muscle is an important part of the chest. It helps with breathing and other movements, such as lifting your arms over your head and bending at the waist.

Use these training tips and effective exercises to enhance your chest.

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