What muscles does the dumbbell chest press work?

The dumbbell chest press mainly targets the pectorals (chest muscles) as well as the shoulders and triceps. It’s a great alternative to the bench press especially if you’re a beginner or struggle to activate your chest.

How to perform the dumbbell chest press the right way?

Sit on the bench and hold the dumbbells on your quads. Then lie down (kick the dumbbells with your legs if you need to) and lift the dumbbells above your chest with your arms extended (elbows unlocked).

Take some time to get in position: shoulders down, upper back and bum resting on the bench. Your feet are either flat on the floor or on the handles if you bench has some. Otherwise place a little Reebok step in front of the bench for your feet to not be hanging. As long as you have these points of contact, your lower back can arch.

Start pressing the weights down on your sides until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Make sure to avoid driving your elbows out too much (you should have less than 90° angle between your upper body on the bench and your upper arms & elbows.

Press the weights back up.

Video demo:

Pro tips:

  • Always keep a slight bend on your elbows to avoid putting too much stress on your joints.

  • Make sure to retract your shoulders (pull them back and down as if you wanted to pinch them together.

  • When pressing the weights down, avoid letting your elbows flare up too much as it’s uncomfortable for your shoulders. On the other hand, avoid keeping them too close to your body as you would target your triceps more than your chest.

How to tell if you’re doing it right:

You feel it in your upper and mid chest. It doesn’t hurt your elbows or shoulders.