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Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press is another version of the classic Barbell Bench Press. It also targets the whole of the pectorals but allows a more natural movement and of greater amplitude, and makes more use of the stabilizing muscles, like the big serrated ones.

Performing with dumbbells is closer to the anatomical function of the pectorals, which serve to bring the arms closer to the torso, than that with a barbell. The freedom of movement is increased it is possible in the low position to keep the elbows closer to the torso, which reduces the pressure on the joints, and in the high position to raise the arms further thanks to a convergent movement (which allows a better work of the central part of the pectorals).

The Dumbbell Bench Press, however, requires a slightly more sophisticated technique than with a barbell, in order to learn to manage each arm separately and to succeed in perfectly stabilizing the dumbbells. For these same reasons, it does not allow the use of loads as high as at the bar. It is however highly recommended because of the lower risk of injury, or at least as a complementary exercise to the version with the bar to vary the work of the muscles.

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How To Make Dumbbell Bench Press

1- Starting position

  • Sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, letting them rest on your thighs, overhand grip.
  • Spread your legs wide enough to stabilize yourself, feet flat on the floor.
  • Lie down and use your legs to lift the dumbbells, one at a time if necessary. Bring them to your chest, with a spacing between them close to that of the shoulders. Then bend your elbows 90 degrees (forearm vertical) and point the palms of your hands forward.
  • Take your chest out and think during the movement to keep your shoulders back and down to limit their stress. To do this, tighten your shoulder blades.

2- Execution of the movement


  • Ride the dumbbells above you until your arms are straight, but don’t lock your elbows. Avoid hitting the dumbbells, stop just before.
  • Once in the high position hold for 1 to 2 seconds for optimal contraction.


  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Ideally, the descent phase should be roughly twice as long as the ascent.

Repeat the movement until the end of your series, without pausing in the low position.

Targeted Muscles

Dumbbell Bench Press mainly solicits large and small breastplates. However, it also involves the triceps and the front of the shoulders (the anterior deltoids). it involves stabilizing muscles such as the jagged and the coracobrachialis.

Risks And Mistakes To Avoid

  • The Dumbbell Bench Press requires a particular technique to successfully balance the arms and keep them stable:
  • Do not take too heavy, it is not unusual for the load to be lower than that used with a bar.
  • Make sure you are able to maintain full control over the dumbbells at all times.
  • Avoid arching your back too much, try to keep it flat. If you have trouble achieving this you can bend your legs on the bench, but you will lose stability.
  • Do not hesitate to limit the range of motion when you are in a low position if you have pain in your shoulders or chest. Stop your movement before the elbows pass below the bust to limit the pressure on your joints.
  • Keep your shoulders low and back, and your chest out. Force with the pecs!

Once your series is finished avoid just dropping the dumbbells, you could injure yourself, especially at the rotator cuff. Instead, try lifting your legs and bringing the dumbbells over your thighs, and then straightening your torso and putting the dumbbells on the floor safely.

Safety Instructions

If you have never executed the movement and, especially if you are a beginner, it is recommended to start your work with a light load, in order to get used to the movement. Even for a non-beginner practitioner, who has never worked with free weights, it can be difficult to master the dumbbells. Better to learn to stabilize them before loading heavier. Otherwise, you risk going too far back and damaging your shoulders.

If your arms are long and your torso is narrow, it is better not to go too low as this could overstretch your chest and injure you.

Keep your back against the bench, avoid arching too much. If you want, it is even possible to practice the exercise with the feet on the bench, legs at 45 degrees, in order to have a straight back. Be careful, however, this posture is less stable.

When you are working hard or failing, it is advisable to have the help of a partner in case you lose your balance. If you use heavy dumbbells, be careful when handling them. Whether before or especially after your series. It is easy to injure yourself, carried away by their weight.

To position yourself on the bench, you can grab the dumbbells like for a deadlift, then set with the dumbbells on your knees, and finally rock back on the bench. To get up, bend your legs towards you, put the dumbbells on your knees, and tilt forward using this counterweight.


  • Inhale in the starting position, then exhale while lifting the dumbbells.
  • Inhale again during the descent.

To better stabilize the bust during the climb, block your breathing to provide a solid base for the muscles used: exhale once the climb is complete in order to reduce the pressure generated by the respiratory blockage.

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  • Different takes possible at the Dumbbell Bench Press:
    • Neutral grip: the palms of the hands face each other. It requires more of the upper chest bundle as well as the anterior deltoid.
    • Overhand grip: used in the presentation, palms are facing forward.
    • Rotation grip: start with an overhand grip, then rotate your wrists during the ascent to bring the dumbbells together thanks to a neutral grip. Please note this variation can be a source of tension for the shoulders.
  • Decline dumbbell bench press: targets the lower part of the pectorals.
  • Incline dumbbell bench press: targets the upper chest area.
  • Barbell Bench Press.
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