Ever hit the weight room to find all the benches occupied? Or maybe your partner never showed up to spot you? Fear not, because you can still get a serious chest workout with dumbbells. (Watch Patrick Willis get a bigger chest with dumbbells.)
People typically don't brag about how much weight they can press with dumbbells, but this doesn't mean they aren't effective. In fact, dumbbells are more versatile than barbells because they allow you to easily change an exercise to challenge your chest in different ways.
Plus, since your hands aren't fixed, your shoulders can move into a more natural position. This allows you to comfortably lift heavy weight without risking a shoulder injury.
Below are three different dumbbell exercises that will effectively build your chest strength and size. They require different techniques, which can only be done because of the versatility of dumbbells.
Try this variation if you don't have access to heavy dumbbells and want to ignite your core. (See Andre Ethier's Single-Arm DB Bench Press.)
Sets/Reps: 3x6-10 each side
This exercise, made popular by famous powerlifting coach Louie Simmons, will improve muscular endurance and increase the amount of weight you can press.
Sets/Duration: 3x30-90 seconds
This exercise stimulates virtually every muscle fiber in your chest by changing the angle at which you perform the exercise. Start with an incline press and work toward angles (flat and decline) where you have a greater mechanical advantage as fatigue sets in. This should be used as a finisher to cap off your pressing exercises for the day.