Build upper body strength with this five-move dumbbell workout

Personal trainer PMAC's exclusive at-home routine builds chest muscle with just a set of dumbbells

Woman in the middle of a dumbbell chest workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you train at home or the gym, you don't need expensive equipment to develop chest muscle and upper body strength. All it takes is a set of dumbbells and this five-move chest workout from personal trainer PMAC.

If you exercise at home or away from a fitness center, then it's worth picking up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. These space-saving weights combine multiple dumbbells into a single unit, allowing you to switch loads mid-workout quickly.

They're flexible, too, offering a practical alternative to gym favorites like the barbell or weights machines that you can use in many of the best workouts for abs and this exclusive session designed by PMAC.

Personal trainer Peter Maciver (opens in new tab), best known to his 79.4k Instagram followers as PMAC, specializes in helping people sustainably achieve specific fitness goals without restrictive diets using workouts that can be done at home, outdoors, or at the gym.

Peter designed this exclusive routine for Fit&Well to help you build upper body strength with only a set of dumbbells, making it a flexible option for at-home training or a quick gym session when you want a muscle-building chest workout. 

PMAC's five-move chest workout with dumbbells

According to Peter, to get the most from this routine, "once you've nailed the correct form, focus on heavier weights with 8-10 reps. If you can do eight reps comfortably, then you'll need to increase the weight."

The aim is to get through four rounds for a time-efficient muscle-building workout. And, if you do head to a gym or have equipment at home, you can switch the dumbbells for a barbell. 

1. Incline press

Man performing an incline dumbbell press

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Lie back on an incline bench at a 45-degree angle.
  • With dumbbells in each hand, have a shoulder-width grip and lift the weight up and away from your chest.
  • Don't lock your arms out straight, but keep a soft bend.
  • Lower the dumbbells to your chest and repeat the movement.

2. Flat bench press

Woman performing a flat bench press with dumbbells

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  • Lie completely flat on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Position yourself so that your chest is in line with the weights.
  • With your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, push the dumbbells towards the ceiling.
  • Squeeze your pecs as you lift and then lower back down.

3. Decline press

Man performing a decline press with dumbbells

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  • Set the bench at a 15 to 30-degree decline so that your body slopes downwards.
  • Hold the weights closer together to narrow the gap and push the dumbbells away from you over your shoulders.
  • Lower the dumbbells until they touch the middle of your chest and push back up.

4. Floor flies

Woman performing dumbell floor flies

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  • Lying on the floor, hold a dumbbell in each hand over your chest.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent and lower the dumbbells out to the sides until you feel a deep stretch.
  • Pause and reverse the movement.

5. Landmine press

Woman performing a landmine press with dumbbells

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Start either kneeling or standing with one foot forward.
  • Hold a single dumbbell in the opposite hand, so you're in a split stance.
  • Press the weight up using one arm and keep it in line with your shoulder.
  • Lower back down and repeat on the other side.
James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.