Can You Build A Chest Without Bench Press (Yes, Here's How) – Fitbod

About The Author


Emily Trinh

Emily Trinh

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.


4. Dumbbell Push Up

How To

To do a dumbbell push up you will need a set of sturdy dumbbells with flat sides (do NOT perform this exercise with round dumbbells).

Grab the dumbbells and then set up your arms where you normally would for a push up, slightly wider than shoulder width apart and elbows pointing back at roughly 45 degrees.

Bring yourself up to a plank, using the dumbbells like handles.

Lower yourself slowly down toward the ground and in between the weights, allowing yourself to drop below hand level if possible to give yourself extra range of motion.

Push yourself back up with as much power as you can and repeat the movement.


  • Dumbbell push ups are a great way to create a small deficit and increase the range of motion of the push up for greater chest activation.
  • Using dumbbells as handles helps mitigate wrist pain for those with a history of injury or strains.


  • Holding up your body weight while holding on to dumbbells can be painful or uncomfortable for some on the palm of their hand
  • If you are not strong enough for just regular push ups from the ground these may prove to be too challenging or advanced especially if you’re trying to get the benefit of the increased range of motion

How to Program

I would program the dumbbell push ups to failure or close to failure and place them close to the end of your workout as a burnout exercise:

  • 4 sets of AMRAP (as many reps as possible) @ body weight
  • Program these at the end of the workout, after other chest exercises

Svend Press 

The Svend Press is a type of standing chest press, it’s generally done using a weight plate but a dumbbell is just as effective. This upper body exercise focuses heavily on the lower pectorals, hitting your upper pecs, anterior delts, and triceps too. Adding the Svend press to your workout is good for the pectoral mind-muscle connection, building the muscles which allow you to squeeze your pecs together. We all know that squeezing your impressive pecs is an excellent way to make everyone in the gym jealous, so keep building those manly muscles with this exercise. 

How to do a Svend Press:

  1. Stand up straight, holding a dumbbell at chest height. 
  2. Raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor (a bit like a chicken).
  3. Push the weight outwards until your arms are completely extended. Focus on keeping the weight at the same height throughout, only allowing it to move on a perpendicular axis. 
  4. Slowly return to your starting position, bringing the dumbbell back to your chest. 

When completing the Svend press, focus on squeezing your muscles, particularly your pecs, as tight as possible throughout the movement. Perform 10-15 reps using a high weight to get the most out of this exercise. 

Shoulder Press

The dumbbell shoulder press, also known as the overhead press, is a classic exercise known for building strong, broad shoulders. This workout is an amazing choice if you’re working on your look, as the visual results are very appealing. The shoulder press can help you build significant muscle mass in your deltoids, triceps, traps, and upper chest. It’s a fantastic overall upper body workout, and all the equipment you need is a pair of dumbbells. 

How to do a dumbbell shoulder press:

  1. You can do the dumbbell shoulder press in either a standing or seated position. Standing allows you to use your back and hip flexors as stabilizing muscles, making for a more full-body exercise. At home, a standing press is your best option. Begin stood upright with dumbbells held at your sides. 
  2. Grip the weights with palms facing forwards and bend your elbows outward to a 90-degree angle. This is your starting position. 
  3. Slowly press the dumbbells upwards until they’re raised above your head. Hold for a moment, and then slowly lower back to the starting position. 

Make sure you start with a low weight for the dumbbell shoulder press. It may seem easy at the start, but this exercise will seriously tire your muscles after a few repetitions. Incorporate 3 sets of 6-10 reps into your regular at-home workout for seriously impressive shoulders. 

Example Dumbbell Only Chest Workout

I’ve put together a workout that contains a few of the exercises I have covered in this article for you to try out. This workout is designed to hit your pectoral muscles from all angles and deliver a complete chest workout for developing strength and size.

This workout is split into 3 supersets.


  1. Dumbbell T Push Up x 12 alternating
  2. Standing Upward Chest Fly x 15

Rest for 45 seconds and repeat x 3


  1. Standing Chest Press x 12
  2. Stability Ball Chest Fly x 10

Rest for 1 minute and repeat x 3


  1. Stability Ball Dumbbell Pull-Overs x 12
  2. Single Arm Floor Press x 8

Rest for 1 minute and repeat x 3

Make sure you check out the videos provided in the exercise list. They will show you the right technique, so you can maximize the effect of this workout!

12. Stability Ball Incline Press

How To

To do a stability ball incline press you will need a set of dumbbells as well as a stability ball.

Start by holding the weights in your hands and sitting on the ball with feet firmly planted on the ground.

From there slowly walk your feet out as you roll down until the ball is making contact with your upper back, as if you are lying on an incline bench.

Find your footing with feet apart and stable and then bring your weight up to your shoulders and press them up and in line with your upper chest. 

Make sure to keep your core activated and bracing as you don’t want to roll off the ball. If you find this difficult, place your toes against a wall for added stability.


  • The stability ball raises you off the ground which allows you to get the added range of motion you are missing out on when doing a floor press to get better chest activation
  • The incline will give you more stimulation to the upper chest 


  • The stability ball may add too much of a challenge of staying on the ball and won’t allow you to push as much weight as you likely have strength for.

How to Program

To program a stability ball incline press I would add it right after a heavier floor press as a secondary movement.

Example progression: 

  • 4 sets of 6 dumbbell floor press @ RPE 7
  • 3 sets of 10 stability ball incline press @ RPE 7

Incline push ups

Push-ups can be done with any item that lifts your

Push-ups can be done with any item that lifts your upper body.

You can do push-ups from the bars, from the bench for bench press from a chair, etc.

The main idea of ​​this exercise is to raise your upper body.

Like push-ups in the opposite incline, this position will help to transfer the weight to your lower pectoral muscles.

Push-up position with hands placed shoulder width on an elevated surface. Feet on the ground. To make it even harder, place your hands on two parallel surfaces with a hole in-between, so that you can lower your upper body even further than your hands.

Standing Dumbbell Wiring

This exercise can be performed with dumbbells or i

This exercise can be performed with dumbbells or in a pullover. When you perform a standing routine, your lower chest responds best to all other muscles.

All you need is a dumbbell of low weight 10-20 pounds will be enough.

Starting position will be arms with dumbbells extended in front of you. Spread them slowly until they form a 90 degree angle with your body.

Be sure to maintain control over the concentric and eccentric phases in the exercise.

Mid chest and back workout

These exercises will turn your pectoral muscles into one shape. Some people call these exercises the middle of the chest, but there is no such thing as the middle of the chest, there is only the top and bottom. And performing these exercises will simply shape your chest.

Dumbbell Pushups: pectoral muscles

The advantage of push-ups is that they can be perf

The advantage of push-ups is that they can be performed anywhere and anytime.

They are the main exercise in almost any weight training program. It is not surprising that they are very popular among many athletes.

All you need is a place equal to the length of your body.

However, regular push-ups from the floor can overweight your wrists, eventually leading to tendonitis. To avoid this, use push-ups from dumbbells.

Just grab a pair of dumbbells and set them shoulder-width apart. Then grab the dumbbells with your hands and start doing standard push-ups.

If during exercise you feel strong tension in the triceps, try moving the dumbbells slightly outward to focus more on the pectoral muscles.

Push-ups from dumbbells on the floor will help you pump your chest and at the same time will save your wrists from injuries.

Dumbbell bench press lying on the floor

This exercise is used by powerlifters and crossfit

This exercise is used by powerlifters and crossfitters to overcome a plateau in the bench press, only they usually perform it with a barbell. Read more about this in the note – bench press on the floor.

Simply lie with your back on the floor with two dumbbells directly above your chest and palms facing toward your thighs. Breathe in and slowly lower the weights towards your shoulders. Exhale and push the weights back to start for one rep. Feel a lot of tension in the chest area.

Since the movement does not allow the hands to fall too low (because they rest against the floor), it helps you overcome dead spots in the exercise.

The same thing if you use dumbbells. Please note that the weight of the dumbbells must be large in order to feel the inclusion of the pectoral muscles, otherwise you will do all the triceps work (with light weight)

Ball dumbbell layout

The ball is a convenient projectile for performing

The ball is a convenient projectile for performing a large number of different exercises.

In addition to the usual movement, it also activates the muscle stabilizers of the body, primarily the press.

Using for training one of the best exercises for the pectoral muscles – wiring, you can achieve truly excellent results.

Lie with your back on the ball, take dumbbells on outstretched arms. Slowly begin to breed dumbbells in different directions. Keep your elbows slightly bent while moving to prevent excessive strain on it.

Do not use too much weight, otherwise your technique may suffer significantly and you will not get the desired effect from the exercise.

Strength Ratios For Overhead Presses

When determining what strength ratio you should use to improve your strength on the overhead press, which is directly related to your strength on the barbell bench press, you’ll want to consider the two ratios that follow. 

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press 

The weight done for eight reps on each dumbbell on both of these movements should represent 29% of the close-grip bench press measure. In other words, a man able to close-grip bench 225 pounds for a single rep would use a pair of 65-pound dumbbells for eight reps in the seated dumbbell overhead presses.

Behind-the-Neck Press 

The weight for your one-rep max on the behind-the-neck overhead press from a seated position should represent 66% of the weight used for your one-rep max on the close-grip bench press. So if you can close-grip bench press 225 pounds, work up to 145 to 155 pounds on the behind-the-neck press.

The overhead press is a challenging lift, and you can’t lift as much as you can with the bench press. If you are not close at all to being able to achieve these ratios, then it’s time to back off the bench press and specialize in overhead work.

To improve your shoulder strength to get your numbers closer to the ratios above, the program outlined below would be perfect.

Vladimir Sukhachev/Shutterstock

[Related: 3 Steps to Rebuild Your Barbell Confidence]

Lower Chest Exercises

People tend to neglect lower chest exercises for several reasons.

To fully build the roundness of the lower chest we must remember to incorporate lower chest movements as part of our routine.

Improve Your Bench Without Benching in 12 Weeks

In this workout program, you’re going to build your training around a five-day cycle that looks like this:

  • Day 1 – Shoulder/Back
  • Day 2 – Legs/Abs
  • Day 3 – Off
  • Day 4 – Arms
  • Day 5 – Off
  • Repeat

You can fill days two and four with whatever leg/ab and arm exercises you like; we’re just going to tell you what to do on Day 1 for the next 16 cycles, which will wrap up in a little under 12 weeks. Note: All of the exercises marked with the same number are performed as a superset with rest between. For example, you’ll do one set of “1A,” rest for 90 seconds, and then do a set of “1B” and rest again. Then, repeat that cycle. 

Cycles 1-4

Note, the reps separated by dashes indicate four weeks of progress. So you’ll do five sets of eight reps in week one, then five reps of seven reps the following week, and so on. Increase the weight a little bit — like five percent — as the reps go down. In the last week, aim to lift more for eight reps than you did in week one.

Do both movements to a tempo of 4-0-x-0

  • 1A. Overhead Press: 5 x 8 / 7 / 6 / 8
  • 1B. Chin-Up: 5 x 6-8  

Cycles 5-8

Be sure to add weight, just a little, like two and a half pounds, to the barbell as the reps go down. For the chin-up, add weight if you can do well beyond three to five reps. Otherwise, stick with your body weight.

Do the overhead press to a tempo of 3-1-x-0 and the chin-up for 4-0-x-0

  • 1A. Seated Overhead Press: 6 x 5, 5, 3, 3, 2, 2
  • 1B. Chin-Up: 6 x 3-5

Cycles 9-12

Place your dominant leg about 10 to 12 inches forward. This diminishes pressure on the lower back compared to standing with your feet aligned. If your lower back strength is poor, you will find it hard to stabilize the trunk during this exercise. If so, it might be time to commit some time to lower back work.

For the first superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 8-0-1-0 and the chin-up for 3-0-x-1. For the second superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 4-0-x-0 and the chin-up for 3-0-x-0.

  • 1A. Standing Overhead Press W/ Narrow Grip: 3 x 5 eccentric reps
  • 1B. Chin-Up: 3 x 2
  • 2A. Standing Overhead Press W/ Narrow Grip: 3 x 3
  • 2B. Chin-Up: 3 x 3-4

Cycle 13

For the first superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 4-0-x-0 and the chin-up for 4-0-1-0. For the second superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 3-0-x-0 and the chin-up for 3-0-x-0.

  • 1A. Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 5 x 1*
  • 2A. Chin-Up: 3 x 2-4
  • 2A. Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 3 x 3-5
  • 2B. Chin-Up: 3 x 3-5

*These are cluster sets. Read our guide on how to do these.

Cycle 14

For the first superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 4-0-x-0 and the chin-up for 4-0-1-0. For the second superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 3-0-x-0 and the chin-up for 3-0-x-0.

  • 1A. Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 4 x 1*
  • 2A. Chin-Up: 4 x 2-4
  • 2A. Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 4 x 3-5
  • 2B. Chin-Up: 4 x 3-5

*These are cluster sets.

Cycle 15

For the first superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 4-0-x-0 and the chin-up for 4-0-1-0. For the second superset, do the overhead press to a tempo of 3-0-x-0 and the chin-up for 3-0-x-0.

  • 1A. Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 5 x 1*
  • 2A. Chin-Up: 5 x 2-4
  • 2A. Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 3 x 3-5
  • 2B. Chin-Up: 3 x 3-5

*These are cluster sets.

Cycle 16

Do both exercises for a tempo of 4-0-x-0.

  • 1A. Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 6 x 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3*
  • 2A. Chin-Up: 6 x 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3*

*For each rep, do a weight that has you failing just one rep over the prescribed number


Many people have the wrong idea that in order to get results in training, it is necessary to go to the gym with the appropriate equipment.

However, the truth is that in fact you need quite a bit of equipment and a bit of creativity and then you will see the whole variety of different exercises.

As you can see above, for pumping the pectoral muscles it is not at all necessary to have a bench in your arsenal and perform a bench press. Work with what you have at the moment.

Don’t miss workouts! And read The historical path of Methenolone Enanthate and its properties

Example chest workout without bench at home

Dumbbell exercises without a bench are beneficial, but the best is if we combine them with bodyweight moves like push-ups. This way, we get a total chest training at home that develops power effectively.

Home chest workout for beginners:

  • 10 reps push-ups.
  • 10 reps floor presses.
  • 10 reps floor flyes.

Do 3-4 rounds with 1-2 minute rest between the sets.

Intermediate home workout:

  • 20 reps push-ups.
  • 10 reps single-arm dumbbell chest press for both sides.
  • 12 reps incline dumbbell press on the fitness ball.
  • 12 reps standing chest press.
  • 12 reps dumbbell chest fly on the floor.

Do 3-4 rounds with 1-2 minute rests.


  • Barbell presses may look like they’re safer than free weights, but this is not necessarily so. Use a spotter if you’re lifting heavier dumbbells, or if there’s a risk the dumbbell could fall in your face.[13]

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  • If you’re just getting started with weight training, talk to your doctor. They can make sure you’re healthy enough to begin a weight training program and let you know about any problems you might face.

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