Workout Routines

The Dumbbell Chest Routine for More Muscle in 4 Weeks

Work smarter, not harder, to create a power chest.

Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Exercises 6
Equipment Yes

We love the barbell bench press as much as you do, but just because you’ve been doing it every Monday night since high school doesn’t mean you can’t change it up every once in a while.

Pressing with dumbbells is safer for your shoulders and activates more pectoral muscle, which means more focused training directly on your chest. Plus, at times when at home or hotel gym is all you have access to, dumbbells are the best weapon you’ve got.

Follow this routine for four weeks, and we bet you’ll add as much as another quarter-inch to your chest.

How It Works

Dumbbells don’t let you go as heavy as barbells, so don’t fight it—instead, follow this workout, which focuses on higher reps and keeping the muscles under constant tension so they work to exhaustion.

Dumbbells also let you train your muscles through a larger range of motion—pressing with a barbell cuts you off a few inches short—and they correct strength imbalances between sides.

If you find yourself in a gym so bare-bones that the dumbbells you have still aren’t heavy enough to provide enough challenge, simply perform your reps more slowly. In your race for bigger gains, slow and steady sometimes is the fastest path.


Perform the workout once a week, resting at least a day before and after any shoulder training. Exercises marked A, B, and C are done in sequence, so you’ll perform 1 set of each without rest in between.

Big Pec Not Wrecked

Exercise 1

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench How to
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
90 Sec rest

Exercise 2

Squeeze Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Exercise Face-Off: Triceps Extensions thumbnail
3 sets
8-10 reps
90 Sec rest

Exercise 3

Dumbbell Flye You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
2 sets
12-15 reps
90 Sec rest

Exercise 4A

Decline Pushup You'll need: Box How to
Decline Pushup thumbnail
1 sets
To Failure reps
-- rest

Exercise 4B

Push Up How to
Pushup thumbnail
1 sets
Failure reps
-- rest

Exercise 4C

Incline Pushup You'll need: Box How to
Incline Pushup thumbnail
1 sets
Failure reps
N/A rest