Forget push-ups – build a bigger chest with these five easy dumbbell exercises

They're easier on your shoulder joints too

Man doing dumbbell chest press
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite being one of the best strength exercises out there for your upper body, particularly your chest muscles, push-ups aren’t the easiest. They’re far from beginner-friendly, as they require solid core strength and use multiple muscles in the body. Fortunately, although this workout is completely floor-based, there isn’t a push-up in sight! All you’ll need is a pair of dumbbells and an exercise mat.  

Lots of chest exercises are often performed using a weight bench, but this workout utilises the floor instead, so it's easy to do at home. There are plenty of benefits for taking your chest exercises down to the floor too. For example, when doing press movements, the shorter range of motion allows you to push more weight, ideal if you're looking for serious strength gains. But it also puts less strain on you shoulder joints, so it's better for those who lack mobility in this area.

This workout will take you no more than 25 minutes to complete and you've got five exercises to get through in total. For each exercise you're going to complete 10 to 12 reps; take a 30 to 60 second break between each one, then repeat the workout two more times. Opt for a medium-weight dumbbell, avoiding anything too heavy. Here's your workout:

  • Alternating chest press
  • Hex press
  • Alternating chest fly
  • Chest press with external rotation 
  • Floor-press

If you don't own a pair of dumbbells make your own using two large water bottles. Keg bottles are the best, like in our gym water bottle guide, as they come with a handle, but any bottle that's comfortable to hold will do. Alternatively, you could use weight plates too. Want more upper body workouts involving no push-ups? Try this standing dumbbell workout (it's also great for your core too) or this six-move weighted workout instead.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.