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Chest And Shoulder Workout Dumbbells Only Edition

Try This Joint Friendly Muscle Building Dumbbell Only Chest And Shoulder Workout

By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES. PN-L1

It’s a common misconception that a dumbbell chest and shoulder workout won’t be effective because you aren’t using a barbell.

The people that believe that couldn’t be more wrong!

Dumbbells are a safer option than a barbell and you can build strong, defined shoulder and chest muscles with only a pair of dumbbells.

That’s what you’re going to learn today.  Grab your free chest and shoulder workout with dumbbells only, watch instructional videos, and read about the most frequently asked questions.

The Best Chest And Shoulder Workout Dumbbells Only Edition

To get this dumbbell only chest and shoulder workout going, let me provide you with the overview of how your workout will look.

Main move A - This will be your main lift of the day.  You want it to challenge you.  Make sure you are using dumbbells that will test you with the provided rep range I give.

Intraset mobility A - Because of the effort I want you to have with your main move, you’ll get some added mobility in here with a non competing muscle group.


Superset 1 - This will be two exercises that you will do back and back, and then take the prescribed rest period.

Exercise A

Exercise B


Superset 2 - This is your second superset of chest and shoulder dumbbell exercises.  You’ll perform it the same way as 1.  Do both exercises and then rest for the prescribed time before you start the next set.

Exercise A

Exercise B


High rep finisher - Now that you’re fatigued, we’ll finish off the workout with a high rep finisher to put the cherry on top of your workout.

Exercise A

Here's Your Chest And Shoulder Workout With Dumbbells Only

Main Move

Slight decline dumbbell chest press - 3 x 6 - 8

Intraset mobility: pigeon pose: 2 x 30 sec/side

Start rest timer when you finish your main move and rest 3 minutes between rounds.


Superset 1

Dumbbell Z press: 3 x 8 - 10

Dumbbell chest fly : 3 x 8 - 10

Rest 2 minutes after second exercise


Superset 2

Dumbbell deficit push-ups: 3 x 8 - 15

Prone Incline Y - raise: 3 x 12 - 15

Rest 90 seconds - 2 minutes after second exercise



Dumbbell shrugs: 2 x 20 - 25

Rest 90 seconds between rounds

Chest and shoulder workout dumbbells

Exercise Breakdown

Slight decline dumbbell chest press

This has been one of my go to exercises as of late with my clients.  Put something under your bench (preferably a 25 pound plate) to make a slight decline of the bench.   Pressing the dumbbells at this angle makes it much safer on your shoulders.  And it feels good too!

Make sure to slightly rotate your wrists inward and have control as you bring the dumbbells down to your chest.

dumbbell only chest and shoulder workout exercise demonstration

Intraset mobility - pigeon pose

A nice quick stretch on your hips during your rest period is never a bad option.  Here’s a video if you need to learn how to do it.

Dumbbell Z press

A dumbbell z press is your basic overhead press with dumbbells, but from a seated position.

One of the biggest form mistakes people make with overhead presses is they arch their back to get the weight over their head.  If you arch your back too much while doing a Z press, well, you’re tipping over my friend.

This exercise requires strict form.  Keep your back as upright as you can and get full extension of the dumbbells on each rep.

If you have any issue sitting directly on the ground, you can swap Z presses for seated dumbbell shoulder press.

Dumbbell chest fly

Keeping your elbows slightly bent while the dumbbells are overhead, start your motion of bringing the dumbbells out past your chest, rather than straight down like a chest press.

You’re creating a harder lever for your body to handle the weight, so you’ll need to go lighter than your chest press on this exercise.

Dumbbell deficit push-ups

You thought you were going to get a dumbbell chest and shoulder workout without any push-ups didn’t you?!

Muhaha!  I snuck these in there AND they require dumbbells, so it still fits what you are searching for.

You’re welcome.

Using the dumbbells as your base will allow you to get a deeper stretch on your pec muscles and keep your hands in a neutral position, which is better for your shoulders.

Prone incline Y-raise

Here’s another new one that I’ve been doing recently that I learned from Joe Defranco.

It’s similar to a classic lateral raise, but you’ll keep your chest against a bench and raise the dumbbells in a y fashion, rather than out to the side.

Pause briefly at the top of each rep, and as always, control the weight down.

Dumbbell shrugs

To target your upper back muscles, which some people link with shoulders (hence while they are in here), you’ll use a pair of dumbbells and lift your shoulders in a straight up and down fashion.

And that my friend is the exercise breakdown for the best chest and shoulder workout dumbbells only edition!

Frequently Asked Questions About Dumbbell Chest And Shoulder Workouts

Can I do a shoulder and chest workout together?

Yes you can work your shoulders and chest together, along with triceps if you wish.  These muscles group fall under the push movement category.  Many exercises will overlap that work all three of these muscles.

Also, the shoulders are the main stabilizer muscle in most chest exercises so they will always be helping out.

Can I build a chest with only dumbbells?

Not only can you build a chest, but you could potentially build a better physique with dumbbells then barbells.

Dumbbells allow you more freedom to play around with angles to target different areas of your chest whereas with barbells, you’re set in a fixed plane.

Also, they are more joint friendly so you decrease the chance of injury.  Training longevity is crucial to building a chest so it’s good when you are doing exercise that won’t hurt you.

Whether you use dumbbell or barbells, learn about how many sets and reps you should do for bench press (and variations).

How heavy of dumbbells do I need to grow my shoulders and chest?

You need to have dumbbells that will put you close to failure on your lifts.  That weight is going to be different from person to person.

If you have an exercise that says 6 - 8 reps and you can just muster up 8 reps, that weight is perfect for you.

On the other hand, if you do 8 reps and you could have done 15, you definitely need heavier dumbbells.

The Best Chest And Shoulder Workout Dumbbells Only Recap

I hope you enjoy this workout and make the most of it.

Follow the prescribed reps and rest times and you’ll reap the most out of this workout.

If you enjoy working out with dumbbells only, check out these additional workouts I’ve made:

The Best Back Workout With Dumbbells Only

The Best Dumbbell Only Leg Workout

11 Bench Press With Dumbbells Variations To Try