The dumbbell bench press boosts overall strength, enhances muscle hypertrophy, and isolates areas of weakness in the bench press movement for most strength, power, and fitness athletes. The dumbbell press falls within the horizontal pressing domain, which also includes: barbell bench press, push-ups, and angular variations (decline, incline, etc). Regardless of the variation, bench pressing can be used by coaches and athletes to enhance overall muscular strength and hypertrophy, but also to improve bench press and overall pressing performance.
For extra safety, lift heavier weights and support I recommend buying a pair of wrist straps as they help a lot.
primary: Pectorals (Chest)
Benefits of the Dumbbell Bench Press
You can increase your range of motion.
To improve your bench press and performance, the range of motion is critical. One limiting factor of the traditional barbell bench press is a restricted range of motion, depending on the shoulder width of the athlete. Researchers found that when participants used dumbbells instead of a barbell, they achieved a much better range of motion during the bench pressing movement.
Increased Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength
Bench pressing as a whole can create some serious strength and hypertrophy gains. No matter the sport, pretty much every lifter could benefit from increased strength and muscle mass. The bench press, as well as overhead movements are critical for upper body pushing strength development. By only training overhead pressing movements, you negate a vital movement pattern of the human body, not striking balance with increased pulling and other movement volumes. Additionally, many lifters enjoy bench pressing, therefore by allowing a lifter to bench press can increase motivation to train which can lead to long term commitment to increases in upper body strength, front rack positioning, and overall muscle mass.
You don't necessarily need a spotter.
Going heavy on the barbell bench almost always requires a spotter, especially when you go toward your one rep max. A dumbbell, however, can be easily dropped the moment your arms and chest begin to fail you. For athletes who train largely on their own, or who don't want to bother people in the gym for the occasional spot, reaching for the dumbbells means you can go heavy without dropping the bar on your chest and crushing your sternum.
You can isolate and identify weak spots in your lift.
Your dominant side makes up for your weaker side. Isolating the weight on each arm forces you to confront muscle imbalances in your chest and shoulders. The dumbbell bench press can help you identify and isolate unilateral deficiencies and imbalances in your upper body.
How to do the Dumbbell Bench Press Correctly
1. Lie on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Push the dumbbells up so that your arms are directly over your shoulders and your palms are up.
3. Pull your abdominals in, and tilt your chin toward your chest.
4. Lower the dumbbells down and a little to the side until your elbows are slightly below your shoulders.
5. Roll your shoulder blades back and down, like you’re pinching them together and accentuating your chest.
6. Push the weights back up, taking care not to lock your elbows or allow your shoulder blades to rise off the bench.
Repeat for desired reps
If you need an adjustable bench which can be flat and/or on an incline or decline position check some out here.
The incline press works the top of the chest and the front of your shoulders harder than the standard exercise, boosting the strength of your muscles and increasing the amount you’ll be able to lift when performing the standard flat bench press.
1. Set up a bench at an incline of 30-45°
2. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your back on the bench.
3. Lift the dumbbells to chest height with your palms facing forwards.
4. Breathe out and push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended, using your pecs to power the movement. Don’t let the dumbbells touch.
5. Pause for a second at the top, then slowly bring them back down as you inhale.
Repeat for desired reps
If the incline bench press targets the top of the chest then it should be obvious that the decline bench press will target the lower chest muscles, and you might also find with this variation that you can lift more weight when on a decline than with the flat or incline press.
1. Set up a bench so it’s at a 45° angle and sit on the top of the slope.
2. Lean back (carefully) and bring the dumbbells up to your chest.
3. Breathe out and push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended, using your pecs to power the movement. Don’t let the dumbbells touch.
4. Pause for a second at the top, then slowly bring them back down as you inhale.
Repeat for desired reps
The natural tendency is to let the weights drift back over your head during the lift, so focus on avoiding that. It can be worth having someone check your form when first attempting this move.
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