5 BEST Dumbbell Chest Exercises For Women | 25 Minute Chest Workout

Add these five dumbbell chest exercises for women to your workout routine! Chest exercises, often skipped by women, are important for supporting good posture and building upper body strength. This 25 minute chest workout for women at home uses a set of dumbbells to tone the arms and build chest muscles.

We have several upper body workouts on the blog. In fact, two of our most popular workouts on the blog are:

  1. 5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women
  2. 8 Best Back Exercises for Women

Shoulder, bicep, tricep and back muscles likely have a regular place in your fitness routine. But women specifically tend to overlook and under-train THE CHEST MUSCLES. 

There’s a misconception that since women have breasts they don’t need to train the chest muscles or pectoralis muscles. This is NOT true.

Chest workouts are just are important for women as they are for men. 

So I’ve rounded up five of THE BEST dumbbell chest exercises for women in today’s post. 

Before we jump into the chest workout, let’s talk about the benefits of chest workouts for women.

Chest Workout for Women At Home

Chest Muscles in Women

First, you should know the chest muscles are one of the largest muscle groups in the upper body. The chest is actually made up of 4 different muscles:

  1. Pectoralis Major Muscle — fan-shaped muscle directly beneath the breast tissue in the upper chest.
  2. Pectoralis Minor Muscle — smaller chest muscle located in the upper part of the chest, beneath the pec major.
  3. Serratus Anterior Muscle — located on the side of the chest along the ribs.
  4. Subclavius Muscle — a small triangular muscle, located between the clavicle and the first rib.

Now onto why strengthening these chest muscles are so important for women.

Dumbbell Chest Press | Chest Exercises for Women

3 Benefits of Chest Workouts For Women

1. Chest Exercises Make Every Day Activities Easier

Chest muscles in women assist in everyday activities.

Chest exercises mimic daily activities, specifically pushing or ‘horizontal pushing’ activities. Think pushing a heavy door open. Or if you’re a mom, pushing a stroller. 

In fact, most upper body movements we do involve the pectoral muscles. The primary functions of your chest muscles are to:

  • Flex Your Upper Arm — to raise
  • Adduct Your Upper Arm — to bring back
  • Medially Rotate Your Upper Arm — to turn inward

So you’re using your chest every time you pick something up, hold something, or push something. 

If your pec muscles are weak from disuse, the simple act of carrying and loading grocery bags into your house can feel like a challenge (Shape). And it can lead to injury.

Shoulder muscles tend to ‘take over’ in women that have weaker chest muscles. This often leads to shoulder overuse and injury, specifically in aging women.

A good reason to do strengthen the chest muscles with this 25 minute chest workout for women.

2. Chest Exercises Improve Your Posture + Breathing

Have a strong chest can also improve your posture.

Chest muscles play an important role in maintaining good posture and upright stability. 

Your pecs support your shoulder blades (scapula muscles). And if you pec muscles are shortened, from slouching over at a computer all day, they’ll pull down on the shoulder muscles creating bad posture. 

On the contrary, if you have good posture your chest remains upright and open which makes it easier to take deep breaths. Remember our chest muscles (specifically the pectoralis minor and serratus anterior muscle) also connect to our ribs.

Another great reason to do these 5 dumbbell chest exercises for women.

3. Chest Exercises Also Work Other Arm Muscles

These five dumbbell chest exercises focus on the pecs, but they also work other upper body muscles — including the triceps, shoulders, and back. 

In fact, a dumbbell chest press is considered one of the best exercises to tone the triceps.

Chest workouts are a great way to build defined, toned arms. 

In fact, building the chest muscles can push breast tissue up and forward. So chests workouts for women might even perk up your breasts or tighten your chest skin.

Push Up Chest Exercise for toned arms

25 Minute Chest Workout For Women

Sculpt your upper body and build strong, toned arms with these 5 chest exercises.

This 25-minute chest workout for women specifically targets the pecs, but also engages the shoulders, triceps and back muscles.

Equipment:

Medium to heavy set of dumbbells for dumbbell chest exercises.

I recommend between 8-25 lb dumbbells. I’m using 12 lb and 15 lb dumbbells in this workout video.

Instructions:

You can approach this chest workout four different ways:

  1. Follow along with the guided video at the top of this post. I’ll coach you through this 25 minute chest workout, keeping track of reps for each chest exercise. We’ll complete 15 reps per chest exercise, x4 sets.
  2. Make it a 20-Minute Chest Workout — set a timer for 20-minutes. Complete 10 repetitions of each chest exercise, taking breaks as needed. Repeat as many rounds as possible, or AMRAP, in 20-minutes.
  3. Make it a 10-Minute EMOM Workout — or an ‘every minute on the minute’ workout. Set a timer for 10 minutes. At the start of the first minute complete 15 repetitions of the first chest exercise. Then rest for the remaining time left in the minute. At the start of the second minute complete 15 repetitions of the second chest exercise. Then rest for the remaining time left in the second minute. Repeat this format for all 5 exercises, a total of 5 minutes. Then repeat the same format a second time, for a 10-Minute EMOM workout.
  4. Make it a Burnout Chest Workout that you add onto the end of your upper body workout — Complete 12 repetitions of each exercise one time through to ‘burnout’ or fatigue the pectoral muscles at the end of your arm workout. Burnout workouts are great for building muscle — you have to bring the muscle to fatigue to build it up again.

5 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises For Women

  1. Push Ups
  2. Dumbbell Chest Press
  3. Narrow Chest Press
  4. Dumbbell Chest Fly
  5. Army Crawl

See an example of each bodyweight and dumbbell chest exercise below.

1. Push Up

Benefits of push ups for women: push ups are hands-down one of the most effective ways to build upper body strength; and considered the best chest exercise to do at home.

Traditional push ups work the chest muscles, triceps and shoulders. When done with proper form, push ups can also strengthen the lower back and core.

push up chest exercise for women

How to do a push up:

  1. Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly.
  2. Hold this position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground, keeping your elbows pinned to your sides. Maintain a straight line with your body — head, chest and legs in one straight line.
  4. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position. Repeat.

PRO TIP: Modify push ups by dropping down to one or both knees.

I have a whole post on push-up variations and modifications. If you’re working on progressing from a modified push up on your knees, to completing push ups on your toes, you need to check out this post.

2. Dumbbell Chest Press

Benefits of dumbbell chest press for women: Chest presses primarily targets the chest muscle or pectoralis major. This chest exercise also engages the deltoids (shoulders) and triceps.

Grab a heavier set of weights to help build chest strength, or a light set of weights for muscular endurance.

dumbbell chest press

How to do a chest press with dumbbells or dumbbell bench press:

  1. Lay flat on your back (on the ground, on a bench, incline bench, or on a stability ball) with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent at a 90 degree angle.
  2. Activate your core by pressing your lower back into the ground.
  3. Exhale as you push both dumbbells up at the same time so they finish directly above your shoulders. Make sure your wrists are strong and in line with shoulders.
  4. Lower back to starting position and repeat.

3. Narrow Chest Press

Benefits of narrow chest press for women: Using a narrow grip increases upper body pushing strength. The narrow grip chest press primarily targets the chest and shoulders.

narrow chest press

How to do a narrow chest press with dumbbells:

  1. Lay flat on your back (on the ground, on a bench, or on a stability ball) with one dumbbell in each hand, elbows glued to your sides, dumbbells at mid-chest point, and palms facing in toward one another. Press your feet firmly into the floor.
  2. Activate your core by pressing your lower back into the ground.
  3. Exhale as you push both dumbbells up in a straight line, ending with your arms straight overhead, wrist over shoulders.
  4. Lower back to starting position and repeat.

4. Dumbbell Chest Fly

Benefits of dumbbell chest fly for women: Again targeting the chest muscles, but also a great exercise for opening your chest muscles.

This exercise is great for posture and can help help reduce upper back pain, increase range of motion, and reduce tightness in the upper body.

chest fly with dumbbells

How to do a chest fly with dumbbells:

  1. Lay flat on your back (on the ground, on a bench, or on a stability ball) with one dumbbell in each hand, arms extended directly above your shoulders, palms facing in towards each other. Press your feet firmly into the floor.
  2. Activate your core by pressing your lower back into the ground.
  3. Inhale as you slowly open your arms, lowering the dumbbells in a wide arc until they reach shoulder level (or the ground). Your elbows should remain soft and not over-extended.
  4. Exhale as you pull the dumbbells back to starting position. Keeping your chest puffed out and your elbows slightly bent.

5. Army Crawl

Benefits of army crawl for women: The exercise engages your entire body, focusing on strengthening the core and arm muscles.

This is a great bodyweight chest exercise you can do at home if you don’t have access to dumbbells.

army crawl chest exercise

How to do an army crawl:

  1. Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists; hands shoulder width apart. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly and push your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Hold this position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Maintain this position as you drop down to one forearm. Follow by dropping down to the other forearm so you are in a low plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows.
  4. Exhale as you push yourself back up to the starting high plank position, one arm at a time, while trying to maintain stable hips, square to the ground.
  5. Repeat this alternating forearm drop.

PRO TIP: Modify army crawls by dropping down to one or both knees.

Best Back and Chest Workout for Women

The chest and back muscle groups work in tandem to perform several exercises like push ups and rows.

So if you want the best upper body workout for women you can combine this:

And you officially have the BEST back and chest workout for women.

Pin this Chest Workout For Women At Home

Chest Workout for Women at Home

More Upper Body Exercises for Women

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2 comments
  1. Ugh, pushups! 🙂 Thank you for this post. How would you incorporate this with your workout calendar? Just after all the upper-body only videos? Thanks!

    • Hi Karen…I had to laugh, you’re not alone in disliking push ups that’s for sure. But I’m glad you find this post helpful. Fortunately, most of these exercises are included in the ‘arm’ and ‘total body’ workouts on the 30-Day Calendar so GOOD NEWS, you’re covered! That said, if you’re specifically striving to get off your knees with push ups or improve push up form you could tack-on an additional set of push ups (10-20 reps) daily or every other day. I hope that helps + keep up the great work! -Lindsey