How to do a Dumbbell Chest Press – Form and Benefits

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: January 7, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.

The dumbbell bench press is an excellent full-body exercise that strengthens both the arms and the chest, as well as other major muscle groups.

This exercise works to develop strength and build muscular endurance throughout your body. It’s also a great way to prepare your body for more complex exercises by simulating similar muscle movements.

How to do a Dumbbell Chest Press - Form and Benefits

Even better, not only will you benefit from stronger muscles but it will also fill you with a sense of accomplishment when performed correctly.

To perform the perfect dumbbell bench press, tips include making sure to use the classic version or exploring variants such as scaled-down or leveled-up variations.

With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder this exercise has become so popular in recent years for those looking to become stronger and build total-body fitness.

How to Do a Dumbbell Bench Press

If you’re looking to incorporate a classic strength-building exercise into your workout routine, then try out the dumbbell bench press.

This exercise requires you to lie down on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand either side of your body.

The aim is to push the weights up towards the ceiling and momentarily pause before bringing them back down towards the chest.

As this exercise consists of one movement, it’s important to focus on full range of motion and keep correct form throughout to ensure further development in strength.

Step to Step Guide How to Do a Dumbbell Bench Press:

Step 1: Start by lying on your back on a flat bench with dumbbells in your hands and arms extended straight up above the chest. Make sure your feet are firmly planted against the floor for stability and to ensure proper form.

Step 2: Inhale deeply as you lower the weights slowly until they are level with the chest. Keep your elbows tucked in close to your sides, ensuring that the motion is coming from the shoulders rather than from any other part of your body such as the chest or arms. 

Step 3: Exhale deeply as you press the weights straight up until they are aligned with each other just above your chest, keeping them parallel throughout the motion. 

Step 4: To help ensure proper form, make sure that during this entire process your back remains flat on the bench and that you don’t arch it at any point while pressing upward. 

Step 5: Once you reach full extension, pause briefly before lowering back down with control, staying mindful of maintaining proper form through every step of the exercise.  

Step 6: After repeating this motion for several repetitions (aim for 8-12 reps per set), lower both dumbbells back to their starting position directly above your chest and rest briefly before beginning another set if desired. 

Benefits of the Dumbbell Bench Press

The bench press is a great tool for any gym-goer, regardless of their fitness goals. For some, it may signify a macho “bro-sesh” kind of activity, but it is so much more than that.

Developing upper body strength and muscle mass can be beneficial in a multitude of ways increasing energy levels and opportunity to do other forms of exercise, improving posture, enhancing circulation and much more.

Here are five benefits to performing dumbbell bench presses:

Boost Muscle and Strength

Building strength and muscle mass can greatly improve performance in nearly all sports, from powerlifting to basketball.

A great way to achieve these goals is through bench pressing a compound lift that works several muscles at once while driving up the potential for both strength and hypertrophy gains.

Because it targets so many muscles necessary for pushing movements in the upper body, bench press should be included in any exercise program aiming to increase strength and body composition.

Freedom of Positioning

Dumbbells offer a wide range of benefits for lifters looking to improve their strength-training experience and reduce discomfort.

Due to the adjustable grip offered by dumbbells, many lifters have experienced improvements in joint-related pain when using this tool as opposed to a barbell bench press.

With a neutral grip, the dumbbell bench press creates a natural and comfortable angle from the wrist to the shoulder joint, affording complete control over the width of one’s grip and allowing even those with existing joint issues to benefit from strength training.

Both Arms Work The Same As The Other

People have individual preferences between the left and right side of their body and tend to favor one side or the other in terms of strength.

This can cause offsets in muscle development, particularly when performing barbell movements; because the weight is combined, one side has to work harder to lift it.

Working with dumbbells during workouts enables isolated movement of one arm at a time, helping you to even out these strength imbalances by giving each side its due attention.

Greater Motion Range

The dumbbell bench press is an advantageous alternative to the barbell bench press because it allows for a greater range of motion.

While the barbell must stop at the chest, dumbbells can be lowered farther due to the absence of a bar.

This increased range of motion elongates the muscle fibers beyond their typical boundaries, ultimately causing more muscular damage and enhancing muscle growth.

Additionally, as the shoulder joints are taken through an extended range, they become stronger and more durable over time.

Dumbbell Bench Press: Muscles Worked

The dumbbell bench press is an excellent upper-body exercise for targeting all the “pushing” muscles.

These include your pectoralis major, which has two heads the sternocostal head and the clavicular head as well as your anterior deltoid and triceps brachii.

The primary benefit of this exercise is that it strengthens postural muscles in a way that walking or running won’t, which helps with overall balance and posture.

Furthermore, because each side works independently of one another, you can ensure improved symmetry as each side will be evenly trained.

Common Dumbbell Bench Press Mistakes

Making sure to avoid common mistakes when performing the dumbbell bench press is important for ensuring that your form is correct and you are engaging the target muscles appropriately.

The most fundamental step of this exercise is to observe safe positioning. Before starting, it’s imperative that the person lies down on the bench with their feet firmly planted onto the floor.

However, if they are too short to reach the ground, then they should place their feet on weight plates or cork yoga blocks at either side of the bench.

In either case, after positioning themselves correctly, they should also make sure their triceps form a 45- to 70-degree angle with their sides as they begin to exercise.

Optimally positioning yourself can not only help you get better results from each rep but also prevent any injuries in your joints or muscles.

Engaging the muscles of the upper body requires focusing on form and body mechanics.

To maximize results begin with a bottom position, squeeze the shoulder blades together like pinching a pencil between them.

This will press your lats into the bench. As you move the dumbbells be sure to keep them in line with the center of your chest so that you are maintaining proper form.

Lastly, when lifting it is important to avoid “dumping” or allowing your shoulders to pull forward to prevent discomfort and injury.

Dumbbell Bench Press Variations

Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press

The one-arm dumbbell bench press can be a beneficial exercise for individuals seeking to build greater muscle strength and core stability.

While it may limit your lifting capacity due to its inherent instability, the amount of focus required to perform the exercise can help you develop a greater “mind-muscle connection” by allowing you to concentrate on each side of your body separately.

This type of exercise also works hard to engage your core muscles as they strive to counteract any twisting force your body may apply while lifting. 

Dumbbell Floor Press

The dumbbell floor press is an effective exercise for targeting the triceps and engaging in resistance training without the use of a bench.

By limiting the range of motion by utilizing the floor instead, it still allows for strengthening and toning these important muscles.

For individuals who may not have access to a bench, this variation provides a viable alternative for maintaining muscle definition and overall fitness goals.

Not only does it support upper body strength, but aids in proper form as movements are limited and restricts deeper arching of the back.

It is worth considering adding it to any exercise plan or routine as an alternate approach to building essential muscle groups.

Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press

The alternating dumbbell bench press is a great workout for those looking to build strength and size.

Benefiting from short rests between each rep, it allows the user to lift slightly heavier weight or do more reps in order to receive a greater training effect.

One of the primary downfalls to this form of exercise is that it requires both arms to support the weight, meaning inconsistencies in fatigue among both arms can happen quickly.

As well, it requires greater coordination and balance than its traditional counterpart, making it more challenging and potentially difficult for certain individuals to perform correctly.

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