dumbbell chest exercises without a bench

10 Of The Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without A Bench (According To Youtube!)

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Are you stuck with a pair of dumbbells without a bench? But you also want to pump up those pecs? Then keep reading! Because today, I will be showing you 10 of the best dumbbell chest exercises without a bench.

Dumbbell chest exercises can be performed without a weight bench by using the floor as a substitute. Although you will not benefit from the same range of motion provided by a bench, you can still perform a variety of dumbbell pressing, flying and pullover movements.

Having weights, but no access to a bench is certainly frustrating. I’ve been there myself (multiple times!)

But with a little creativity, you can work around the issue!

And that’s what I want to share with you now!

So let’s dive right in!

The 10 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises That Require No Bench

First, let me explain how I compiled my 10 “best” dumbbell chest exercises that require no bench.

First, I researched 9 chest workouts from 9 different Youtube channels. Each workout was targeted towards dumbbell exercises which require no bench

Additionally, I made sure each video was reputable (high view count and % of likes). I also made sure the Youtuber had visibly large pecs themselves!

Here are the 9 Youtube channels (and links to their workouts):

Youtube ChanelVideo ViewsNumber Of LikesNumber Of Dislikes% Likes
MiDASMVMT761,0003100025599%
Live Anabolic662,0001100028897%
Anabolic Aliens3,647,60058000150097%
Jeet Selal 907,8003500071198%
Bully Juice581,000950015798%
Tony Gonzalez293,70072008699%
ACHV Peak58,49013001499%
Ryan Humiston212,600100006399%
Barbarian Body1,000,4002400030599%

Next, I tallied up the exercises which appeared in multiple workouts (and therefore the most popular).

Here are most popular bench-free dumbbell chest exercises (ranked):

bar chart ranking for the best dumbbell chest exercises to do without a bench

Now I will explore in detail how to perform the 10 dumbbell chest-building exercises, and why they are so effective!

1. Dumbbell Floor Fly Is An Isolation Chest Exercise.

Dumbell Floor Flies

This is the no-bench variation of the dumbbell fly, one of the best chest isolation-type exercises. It will add volume to the chest, and sculpt a cleft between your pecs.

The main difference between the floor and bench version is in the range of motion.

With the dumbbell floor fly, the range of motion is reduced since your arms cannot go below the torso-line. And this will reduce pectoral activation.

But aside from this, the dumbbell floor fly is almost identical to the benched dumbbell fly. It will primarily engage the pectoralis major. But the anterior deltoids are also engaged to stabilise the movement.

To perform the dumbbell floor fly:

  1. Lie down on the ground, holding two dumbbells tight to the chest.
  2. Hold the dumbbells above the chest, arms perpendicular to the torso.
  3. Simultaneously arc both arms down and outwards until they are just above the ground (arms should be 45° to the torso).
  4. Return the dumbbells to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Actively squeeze the pecs together as the dumbbells approach each other, but don’t let the dumbbells touch/bang into another!

Check out my other article to find out if you should get dumbbells for home use!

2. Dumbbell Floor Press Replicates The Bench Press.

How to perform Dumbbell Floor Press

This is the floor version of the flat bench press, the classic compound chest-builder. But instead of laying on a bench, you lay on the floor!

By laying on the floor, you will reduce the range of motion for the exercise. That’s because your elbows can’t drop below the torso. As a result, you won’t get as musch muscle activation in the chest.

However, a dumbbell floor press is better than no press!

The bench press movement is highly effective at engaging the pectoralis major and minor. It will also recruit the triceps and anterior deltoids to stabilise the motion.

To perform the dumbbell floor press:

  1. Lay down on the floor, holding a pair of dumbbells tight to the abdomen.
  2. Kick the dumbbells up by thrusting your hips upwards, stabilising them in the air.
  3. Hold the dumbbells above the nipple-line, shoulder-width apart using an overhand grip.
  4. Lower the dumbbells until elbows are just above the ground.
  5. Drive the dumbbells back up, bringing them together as they move upwards, and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Maintain tension in the chest muscle throughout the movement by not allowing your elbows to “bounce” off the ground (this is cheating!)

Read my other post for more ways to build a big chest with dumbbells!

3. Dumbbell Upward Fly Targets The Upper Chest.

Upward dumbbell flys

The upward chest fly is a variation of the classic dumbbell fly.

Instead of lying on a bench, this exercise is performed standing. The arms are also tucked closer to the body compared to the traditional dumbbell fly (where the arms spread outwards).

This alters the angle to make the dumbbell upward fly highly effective at activating the upper pectorals and anterior deltoids (which is often hard to achieve without an incline bench). But make sure the dumbbells reach a heigh that is level to the chest-line, to achieve this.

Additionally, the biceps undergo secondary activation to support the weight of the dumbbell. And this can be effective at toning the arms!

To perform the dumbbell upward fly:

  1. Stand with dumbbells at your sides, next to your legs.
  2. Bring one foot forward and one foot back, to create a stable staggered stance.
  3. Simultaneously bring both dumbbells forwards and upwards using an underhand grip.
  4. Stop when the dumbbells reach chest level.
  5. Return dumbbells to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Squeeze the upper pecs as the dumbbells approach the chest line to really activate your upper chest muscles!

Check out my other post to find out the pro’s and con’s of dumbbell training!

4. Dumbbell Push Ups Use Your Bodyweight.

Dumbbell (DB) Push-Ups | GPS Human Performance

Push ups are the most famous bodyweight chest exercise. And they can be made even more effective by gripping a pair of dumbbells, instead of planting your hands directly onto the ground!

This raises your body position and increases the space between your torso and the floor.

As a result, your torso can sink lower than it would normally be able to (where the ground restricts your range of movement). And the increased range of movement allows for a greater stretch in the pectorals (similar to a bench press).

Dumbbell push ups don’t just work the pectorals, deltoids, and arms. But also your entire body (particularly core, back, and glutes) to stabilise the movement!

To perform the dumbbell push up:

  1. Place two dumbbells at shoulder-width distance on the floor, handles running parallel to your body.
  2. Grip each dumbbell and enter a forward plank position.
  3. Lower the body whilst keeping your core and glutes tight.
  4. Drive back up as the nipples approach dumbbell level, and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Go as low as physically possible to capitalise on this exercise. If you are a newbie with limited upper body strength, don’t be afraid of getting on your knees instead (build your strength slowly!).

Read my other article for more ideas to build muscle at home without weights!

5. Dumbbell Close-Grip Floor Press Is Good For Fatiguing The Chest.

Dumbbell Close Grip Floor Press

The close-grip dumbbell floor press is the dumbbell floor variation of the narrow-grip bench press.

It’s also very similar to the normal dumbbell floor press. By narrowing the dumbbells, you focus the primary contraction to your triceps and anterior deltoids. And the chest takes on secondary role.

This makes the dumbbell close-grip floor press an excellent exercise to add variety into your dumbbell programme, since you can perform them AFTER fatiguing the chest with other exercises.

This will allow you to safely push your pectorals to their point of failure (which is beneficial for muscle growth).

To perform the dumbbell close-grip floor press:

  1. Lay down on the floor, holding a pair of dumbbells tight to the abdomen.
  2. Kick the dumbbells up by thrusting your hips upwards, stabilising them in the air.
  3. Hold the dumbbells above the sternum, parallel to your body, using a hammer grip. The top of the dumbbell should be in line with your nipples.
  4. Lower the dumbbells until elbows are just above the ground.
  5. Drive the dumbbells back up, bringing them together as they move upwards, and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Keep the dumbbells tightly together as you push, and squeeze your pecs as the dumbbells reach the top position.

6. Dumbbell Decline Floor Press Works The Lower Chest.

Dumbbell Decline Floor Press

This exercise is the dumbbell no-bench variation of the decline bench press.

The dumbbell decline floor press is an essential addition to your dumbbell training programme, since it is one of the few exercises that can maximise lower pectoral activation.

But don’t be fooled into thinking the dumbbell decline floor press will ONLY activate the lower pecs. It will also engage the mid and upper pectorals too!

The unique negative angle of the decline floor press will also help you lift a heavier weight, when compared to the flat dumbbell floor press. And this will help you to build upper body strength, as well as confidence.

To perform dumbbell decline floor press:

  1. Lay on the floor with dumbbells tight to abdomen.
  2. Flare both legs outwards, plant your feet into the ground, and raise your hips to create a negative angle in the torso.
  3. Use the hips to kick the dumbbells out, and stabilise them in the air.
  4. Hold the dumbbells in-line with the nipples, shoulder-width apart using an overhand grip.
  5. Drive the dumbbells upwards, at an angle 45° to the declined torso.
  6. Lower the dumbbells until elbows are just above the ground, and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Increasing the decline by making your torso more vertical will further shift emphasis to the lower pecs compared to the mid and upper chest.

7. Dumbbell Floor Pullover Is A Compound Chest Exercise.

Dumbbell Pullover on Floor

The dumbbell floor pullover is the no-bench variation of the dumbbell pull over.

Although the range of motion is drastically reduced without a bench, the dumbbell floor pull over is still worth doing.

The exercise is an awesome compound exercise which doesn’t just engage the chest muscles, but also the arms and back.

As a result, you will develop a stable base to perform the other dumbbell chest exercises, since your stabiliser muscles will become stronger.

This makes the dumbbell floor pullover a great addition your dumbbell chest training.

To perform the dumbbell floor pullover:

  1. Lay on the floor whilst using both hands to clasp a single dumbbell by the weighted-ends.
  2. Position the dumbbell on the floor, behind the head.
  3. Use both arms to arc the dumbbell upwards, until it comes directly above your face.
  4. Lower the dumbbell and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Spread both legs and plant your feet solidly into the ground. Press your feet into the ground as you lift the dumbbell. This will counter-balance the weight, and allow you to lift heavier.

8. Dumbbell Valley Press Works The Chest Isometrically.

How To Valley Press | Tutorial | Chest Exercise

The valley press is the dumbbell equivalent of the popular Svend press.

This exercise is popular due to the unique form of chest muscle contraction it induces.

The primary movers of the dumbbell are actually the deltoids and triceps (to move the dumbbell forward and back).

However, the pectorals undergo isometric contraction as you squeeze the dumbbells together to stabilise the motion.

By introducing an isometric stimulus to your chest muscles, you are presenting them a new challenge. And this will drive muscle growth!

The constant tension in the chest will also allow you to develop a greater “mind to muscle contraction“. And this will increase your chest strength, allowing you to lift heavier for the other dumbbell exercises!

To perform the standing dumbbell valley press:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells tight to the chest, using an underhand grip.
  2. Extend both arms, pushing the dumbbells away from the body. The dumbbells should be at chest-level throughout the movement.
  3. Retract both arms to bring the dumbbells back to your chest.

Top tip: Actively squeeze your inner chest throughout the movement to increase intensity of the isometric contraction.

9. Dumbbell Low Crossover Isolates The Upper Pecs.

It’s the first exercise in this workout 🙂

DUMBBELL CHEST WORKOUT AT HOME | NO BENCH NEEDED!

The dumbbell low crossover (also called a hammer fly) is similar to the upward fly (number 3. on this list).

But the dumbbell path of motion travels ACROSS the torso, rather than forward/backward.

By doing this, you further isolate the contraction to the upper pectorals.

Additionally, the dumbbell low crossover to require less bicep stabilisation. And this allows you to lift heavier, compared to the dumbbell upward fly.

Ultimately, this exercise can be a great alternative to the upward fly if your goal is to develop a strong upper chest without a bench.

To perform the dumbbell low crossover:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each arm by your side, with a neutral grip (handles facing backwards and forwards).
  2. Arc one arm up and across the chest, bringing the dumbbell level with the opposite shoulder.
  3. Return the dumbbell to your side, and repeat with the other arm.

Top tip: Bend both knees slightly to lower your centre of gravity. This will stabilise your torso and prevent the temptation for swinging your body to help lift the dumbbell (cheating!).

10. Dumbbell Wide-Grip Floor Press Is A Chest-Builder.

Wide Grip Dumbbell Floor Press

This is the no-bench dumbbell version of the wide-grip bench press, widely accepted to be a powerful chest-builder.

It’s essentially the same as the dumbbell floor press. But you widen the distance between the dumbbells (to about 2x your shoulder width).

When you increase grip-width, you significantly reduce the range of motion in your arms. As a result, most of the pressing work falls directly onto your pectorals (rather than the pecs AND triceps).

So if you want your pressing exercises to focus on developing a stronger chest (rather than chest AND arms), widen your grip!

To perform the dumbbell wide-grip floor press:

  1. Lay down on the floor, holding a pair of dumbbells tight to the abdomen.
  2. Kick the dumbbells up by thrusting your hips upwards, stabilising them in the air.
  3. Hold the dumbbells above the nipple-line, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, using an overhand grip.
  4. Lower the dumbbells until elbows are just above the ground.
  5. Drive the dumbbells back up, bringing them together as they move upwards, and repeat for reps.

Top tip: Bring the dumbbells together as you push them upwards. This will increase pectoral activation!

45 Minute Chest Workout Without A Bench

Now you can create a workout by picking and mixing between the 10 dumbbell chest exercises above.

Here is a 45 minute example of a dumbbell chest workout without a bench:

Chest ExerciseSetsRepsWeightRest Between Sets
Dumbbell Push Ups315Bodyweight1 Min
Dumbbell Floor Fly3970% Of 1RM.2 Min
Dumbbell Wide-Grip Floor Press +
Dumbbell Floor Pullover (Superset)
3880% Of 1RM1 Min
Dumbbell Floor Press3880% Of 1RM2 Min
Standing Dumbbell Upward Fly +
Decline Dumbbell Floor Press
3880% Of 1RM1 Min
Dumbbell Close-Grip Floor Press3880% Of 1RM2 Min
Standing Valley Press3 To Failure50% Of 1RM2 Min

The workout begins with push ups to warm body, before progressing into the bulk of the workout.

It ends with standing valley presses performed to failure (do as much as physically possible for each set).

A superset is one where you perform two types of exercises back to back before taking a rest. So for example: you would do a set of wide-grip floor presses, move directly onto a set of floor pullovers, and then take a rest (this would count as 1 set).

Give it a go, the workout will destroy your chest! And if it doesn’t, then increase the weight or reps until it does!

1 RM stands for 1 rep max. If you don’t know what a 1 rep max is, check out my other article on ideal lifting weight!

Conclusion

There we have it!

Today I have shown you 10 dumbbell chest exercises without a bench. I have also given you a 45 minute example of what a chest workout could look like!

Building a killer chest doesn’t necessarily require a bench. Don’t get me wrong, a bench helps a lot (by increasing the range of motion). But there are certainly ways to make-do without!

Which dumbbell chest exercises will you be trying in your next workout?

Let me know in the comments below! Alternatively, download the FREE Kalibre Muscle Blueprint below!

kalibre skinny to muscle transformation blueprint

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,

Kal

(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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