Dumbbell Bench Press – Technique, Benefits, Variations

ByJoe Louis

Apr 8, 2021
dumbbell bench press 8212 technique benefits variations 609bdd455ffc4

Dumbbell bench press is an exercise for pumping all parts of the chest. To fully engage the top, bottom and middle of the pectoral muscles, it should be performed at different angles. Consider the bench press in a horizontal position, as well as at an angle of 30, 45, 60 degrees and upside down.

Working muscles

Basically, the dumbbell press affects everything the same muscle groups as the barbell press. The main load falls on the chest. Additionally, the front bundles of deltoids and triceps work. A large number of other muscles are involved in this exercise as a subsidiary principle.

Depending on the position of your core, the load on the pectoral muscles may vary.

  • If you do the exercise on a horizontal bench, the middle part works.
  • Performing a dumbbell press on an incline bench, you load the upper chest.
  • And if the incline is reverse, then you lie on the bench upside down – the lower part of the chest takes on the main load.

Why is the dumbbell press convenient?

Let’s figure it out than the bench press with dumbbells is so good. Why is it often preferable to the same basic barbell press.

Гантели или штанга

When do you need to press dumbbells on an incline bench, and when is it better to press on a horizontal bench.

Easy start for beginners

When you are in the gym for the first time, there is no point in lifting a barbell. Your body has not yet mastered the technique, and your muscles will not be able to fully contract to complete all reps.

An Olympic bar weighs 20 kg, for the first bench in life this can be a lot. Dumbbells, on the other hand, will allow you to practice the technique with small weights, which is very important at first.

Over time, the weights will grow, and it will become possible to move to the barbell. But even in this case, you should not forget about dumbbells. For example, you can do a dumbbell press lying on an incline bench (or a horizontal version) after a barbell press.

Ability to “hammer” muscles

After heavy basic exercises, you need to squeeze out the rest of the strength from the muscles. It is sometimes too difficult to do this with a barbell. A beginner may not have enough strength even for an empty 20 kg bar. Therefore, you can refine the muscles of the chest, shoulders and triceps using dumbbells.

Incline dumbbell press in this case is well suited as the last exercise. After all, if the wiring can only use the chest and part of the deltoids, then the dumbbell press at an angle and horizontally allows you to distribute the load on the entire chest, triceps and front bundles of deltoid muscles.

For a full sense of “failure”, you can work with small weights 15-20 times in 2 approaches. The muscles will burn incredibly, followed by the proper feeling of fatigue.

No attachment to the place

This is about pressing rods need racks, you need a rod. There is no mobility. It’s different with dumbbells.

Dumbbell bench press lying on a horizontal bench is the easiest in this regard. It is enough to look at the bench-bench. And dumbbells can be brought to her anywhere. At home you can use lined stools. Lie down and work.

If you are doing the exercise in the gym, you do not need to remove the pancakes from the dumbbells, put on new ones. If you plan to train with several weights, just put them next to each other. Finished with some, you can immediately take others and do supersets, circuit workouts, etc.

If you plan to do a dumbbell press lying on a bench with a positive incline, or, conversely, upside down, it will be a little more difficult. This requires an incline bench. However, there are usually several of them in gyms, so this should not be a problem.

The advantage of split weight

When you press the barbell, the weight distributed evenly between the two hands. The negative side of this event is this: if one arm is weaker than the other, then you may not finish the exercise. Because one hand will fall behind. And the second is not able to squeeze out the entire barbell – it’s hard.

When you work with dumbbells, each hand one-on-one copes with its dumbbells. That is, if one arm is weaker, it will not prevent the other arm from squeezing out the weight.

In addition, when you work with dumbbells, you spend more energy on holding the shells. Since each arm works with its own weight, you can easily lose your balance. If one hand did not have the strength to squeeze the dumbbell, you immediately became unbalanced. Therefore, the balance stabilizers tense and strengthen during such exercises.

Жим под углом

When you do the dumbbell press on the bench with an inclination upwards (45 and 30 degrees) – the weight is mostly distributed between the heels and the pelvis. This position is more stable than lying on a horizontal bench.


To use the exercise effectively, you must first learn how to perform it correctly.

Press on a horizontal bench

Choose a dumbbell and a bench. It is better to put a towel under your head and back.

The technique is as follows:

  1. We lie down so that the pelvis, back and back of the head are on the bench. Nothing should hang!
  2. Place the legs at an angle of 50-60 degrees, press the floor with the heels. Make sure that you are hard to roll onto your side in this position. If so, you are lying fairly stable and you can start the exercise. Remember how you lay down. Now sit down.
  3. The dumbbells should initially be positioned so that when you sit down they are within reach of your hands. Take dumbbells and place them on your knees.
  4. Lie down as you tried earlier. At the same time, you need to transfer the dumbbells to your chest. Now that you lie down, straighten your arms so that the dumbbells are at the top, leaving a small angle at the elbow joint.
  5. You need to unfold your arms so that the handles of the dumbbells are parallel and in one line, as if you are holding in your hands barbell.
  6. From this position, we begin to smoothly lower the weight down, the elbows move strictly to the side and down.
  7. When the elbows are as low as possible, and you feel a stretch in the chest, it’s time to return the dumbbells to original top position. We do this on exhalation, we release the air through the mouth. We inhale through the nose while moving the dumbbells down.

By the way, do not forget about the warm-up approach – 10-15 times with light weight. Then we take up the working weights and do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Pressing at an angle

Pressing dumbbells on an incline bench differs from a horizontal one in several nuances: the angle of the back and your movements.

Pressing dumbbells on an incline bench at angles of 45 and 30 degrees makes sense to do after the basic bench press with a barbell.

Once a week, if the lower chest is lagging behind, you can practice the dumbbell bench press lying downside down (30 degrees or 45 degrees in minus).

The technique is the same as for the horizontal version. Just pay attention to the nuances.

When done on a bench with a positive bias:

  • Since you are not lying horizontally, you will slide down. To prevent this from happening, slightly lift the edge of the seat up. How correctly – you will understand yourself, because you will stop rolling down.
  • Movements up and down are carried out strictly in the vertical axis. Thanks to the angles of 30 and 45 degrees, the loaded part of the chest changes.
  • Legs should be spread wider than on a horizontal bench. This will make you sit more firmly.

Benching dumbbells with an incline down from the chest also requires some knowledge:

  • When your head is lower than your body, towards it more blood rushes. This can cause increased intracranial pressure, dizziness, and darkening of the eyes. It is dangerous for elderly people to perform such tricks.
  • Taking dumbbells from such a position is not very convenient. This is where you need the help of a gymmate or coach.

The exercise is done in 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. We work to failure! If we hammer the muscle, work with light weights.

When you finish the dumbbell bench press with a downward slope, stand up slowly. If you stand up suddenly, there may be problems with your head – it will spin.

Major mistakes

Pay attention to the following mistakes and try to avoid them:

  1. If you choose too much weight, then you will involuntarily jerk during execution. The movement will be incorrect, it will be difficult to stabilize it, and as a result, you may simply not be able to keep the weight.
  2. A very important nuance – during the exercise, try to move your elbows to the sides of the body at a right angle. That is, the right and left shoulder in the lower position forms one straight line when viewed from above. When you press your elbows against the body, or hold them closer to the head, the meaning of the exercise is lost.
  3. Wrong insurance. The problem is that most people do not know how best to feed the dumbbells to the upside down athlete. So, he takes one dumbbell himself. Lies on the original one and then you give it the second one. When working with a positive angle of 45 or 30 degrees, the person usually lifts the dumbbells himself.
  4. Sometimes there is such a mistake: raising the head, looking to the sides, and sometimes it just hanging the head off the edge of the bench. The head should fit snugly with the back of the head in the bench.
  5. Attempting to press dumbbells upside down without fixing the legs. You yourself understand that this is fraught with your debut slide down.
  6. The correct speed of movements is an important component of the success of any workout. We make smooth, slow, clear movements. Technique is the key to achieving the desired results.

Dumbbell bench press and weight gain

Achieve significant muscle growth thanks to only one press of dumbbells, including at angles of 30 and 45 degrees – it is almost unrealistic. It is advisable to give the muscles a complex load with weights close to or exceeding your body weight (for experienced athletes). We are talking about men. For women, of course, these limits will be less.

If increased mass growth is not among your priorities, and you just want to keep your muscles in good shape, you can use dumbbells to quite effectively “drive blood” as if sitting and lying down.

Press with one hand

It makes no sense to press dumbbells with one hand. First, you strain yourself once more to keep your body in balance. Secondly – why do you need a second hand then?

Dumbbell bench press with one hand while lying down is an exercise rather for those who, for some reason, cannot use the second hand. Only in these cases should you resort to this option.

Dumbbell bench press

For people with lower back pain, doing the bench press can be problematic. In order to relieve the lower part of the spine, you can do an exercise on a fitball. With very small weights, this type of exercise can be done even during pregnancy.

Pressing dumbbells lying on a fitball is performed by analogy with pressing on a bench: the technique is the same, you just lean your upper back on the ball.