How to do Dumbbell Bench Press Correctly and Safely

 
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INTRODUCTION: DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS VS BARBELL BENCH

The Dumbbell Bench Press is a handy variation of the Barbell Bench Press which allows for a more natural range of motion of the shoulders and individual training of each arm.  Given that the weight is not fixed by a barbell, your shoulders are free to rotate throughout the movement.  That makes the Dumbbell Bench a good variation if you experience any shoulder discomfort during the Barbell Bench.

Because this exercise trains each arm individually, you will not be able to lift as much weight with this exercise compared to the Barbell Bench Press.

The downside to Dumbbell Bench Press is that it becomes more difficult to get into the starting position as the dumbbells you lift get heavier and heavier.

 

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS FORM VIDEO

 

BENEFITS OF THE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

  • Teaches how to maintain a stable shoulder position for everyday movements

  • Allows the shoulders to rotate freely without the restriction of a barbell

  • Encourages strength development of the shoulders, and arms which improve lean muscle mass and fat burning

 

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Anterior Shoulders
     

PERFORMING THE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE

  • Grab two dumbbells and position yourself in front of a bench, without sitting down yet

  • Place the dumbbells on your lower legs, right above your knees

  • Maintain the dumbbells in this position and sit down on the lower end of the bench

  • The dumbbells should be resting on your knees in a vertical orientation at this point as seen below

 
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  • Retract and squeeze your scapulae together when laying on the bench. Maintain this retracted position throughout the entire lift

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  • Next, using controlled momentum, you are going to lay yourself down while simultaneously bringing the dumbbells to your chest
  • Ensure that your scapulae are still retracted

  • Keep your elbows tucked at a 45-degree angle and the dumbbells angled slightly

 
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  • Place your feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees, and point your feet straight or angled out up to 45 degrees

  • Begin the movement by pressing the weight directly up and slightly back towards your face

  • Do not rotate the dumbbells any more than is necessary

  • Reverse the movement by bringing the weight back down until they are in contact with your chest

  • When you are finished with your set, use momentum to simultaneously stand back up to a sitting position while bringing the outstretched dumbbells back down to your knees

  • Or you can simply drop the dumbbells in a controlled manner

 

SUMMARY OF THE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS TECHNIQUE

 
 

Click on each blue circle to view the key technical aspects of this exercise

 

COMMON MISTAKES

BENCHING WITH YOUR ELBOWS FLARED OUT

Do not flare your elbows out to 90 degrees from your body. This position places a lot of strain on you pectoralis tendon as well as your bicep tendon.  If you develop pain on the anterior side of your shoulder when performing this exercise, try tucking your elbows to a 45 degree (or less) angle to your body.

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Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here