The bench press is a popular exercise, but is it better done with a barbell or dumbbells?
Well seeing as this page is about the dumbbell bench press, you've probably already guessed I'm gonna say dumbbells.
You're totally right, because dumbbells allow so much more freedom and variation for the bench press.
With the barbell, your range of movement is constricted. That's why guys stack up the weight and use it to develop chest muscle bulk.
But with dumbbells, it's easier to tone up without building the bulk that you may not want.
Of course you can still build muscle bulk with dumbbells, it may take longer but at least you'll go through the complete range of movement.
Developing muscle strength through its complete range of movement is important. It will help prevent injury and improve your functional strength (i.e. strength in movements that you actually use everyday or within your activity).
Added to that, the dumbbell bench press will also work your core muscles, as they'll be stabilizing each side your body. Dumbbells are awesome.
If you do the exercises below as part of your strength workout, you'll be well on your way to a great, toned upper body.
Get into position by sitting on the bench, hold the dumbbells and allow them to rest on your thighs. Whilst rolling your body back to lie down on the bench, use your thighs to help you push the dumbbells up to your chest. Then straighten your arms up over your chest (keeping a slight bend in elbows), palms facing forward.
Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back in neutral (no more than a slight arch).
Lower the dumbbells by bending your elbows out to the sides. Keep going until your elbows are just below your shoulders.
Then press the dumbbells back up, bringing them close together at the top (without touching), and angled slightly inwards. Keep a slight bend in your elbows, don't allow them to "lock".
Repeat until you've completed your reps.
To get up, hold the dumbbells by your chest, kick your legs up and then forward to give your body momentum to sit up.
It's always best to have a spotter with free-weights. They can also hand you the dumbbells to make getting in and out of position easier.
Exhale as you lift, inhale as you recover.
Keep control of the dumbbells during the lift and recovery, don't allow gravity to control the work.
Dumbbell Bench Press Variations
Incline dumbbell bench press - raise the bench to a 35 degree angle (or the lowest incline available). This will work your upper chest area more.
Decline dumbbell bench press - lower the bench to a max. of 45 degrees. This will work your lower chest more.
Palm-in grip - instead keeping your palms facing forward, have them facing inwards.
The following exercise variations are slight changes from the above description. Keep the same technique and good form when doing them.
Dumbbell Bench Press With Alternating Arms..
Instead of pressing both arms up together, try alternating. As one goes up the other stays still. This will put more pressure on your core stabilizers to keep your body from rolling side to side.
Dumbbell Press on an Exercise Ball..
Sit on an exercise ball holding the weights. Roll down until your upper back and shoulders are resting on the ball, bend your knees and place both feet firmly on the floor. Press the dumbbells from that position. This is pretty hard, make sure your core muscles are braced and try starting with a lower weight.
Dumbbell Press With Alternating Arms on an Exercise Ball..
This is simply combining the above two variations. I say simply, but it's pretty tricky when you try it. Test it out with a very light weight and see how you go, progress from there.
This is working most of your body. Your legs are working to hold you up, your core to keep you stable and obviously your upper body to lift the dumbbells. It's created a whole body exercise from the simple bench press. Awesome!
Dumbbell Bench Press Videos
Enjoy these dumbbell exercises! Need a visual idea of the best technique? Check out these quality videos: