Gym Shorts: The Dumbbell Bench Press

New to the dumbbell bench press or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

The Dumbbell Bench Press

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps

  • Set Up
    • Rest dumbbells on thighs
    • Lie back: keep your arms flexed and the dumbbells close to your torso
    • Dumbbells begin at ~45 degrees to bench
    • Hands roughly in line with sternum
    • Feet flat on the floor
    • Legs angled out
    • Move dumbbells to thighs as you sit up
  • Movement
    • Dumbbells end ~90 degrees to bench and directly over shoulders
    • Elbows fully extended at the top
    • Internal rotation on the way up
    • External rotation on the way down

What Is It?

The dumbbell bench press is an accessory lift that mimics the barbell bench press, but the use of the dumbbells limit the weight and accessibility for many lifters while allowing for each arm to move independently and greater rotation at the shoulder during the execution of the movement.

This movement requires a bench and two (ideally) equally heavy objects that can easily be grasped, such as dumbbells, kettlebells, or adjustable dumbbells.

During the concentric portion of the movement, we internally rotate the shoulders, pronate the forearms, and twist the dumbbell to be roughly perpendicular with the bench. During the eccentric portion of the movement, we externally rotate the shoulders, supinate the forearms, and twist the dumbbell to be closer to parallel with the bench (roughly 45 degrees).

Programming

We tend to program these for advanced athletes who both have access to dumbbells and want to build muscle to enable greater strength for the muscles that contribute to the barbell bench press (or–maybe–who simply want to get more jacked).

Because it’s hard to perform these at high intensities, we recommend programming higher rep sets: 2-5 x 6-15.

These are generally performed near the end of the workout, after the bigger barbell movements have been performed, and they can be performed in a circuit or in a superset with other exercises.

If you’re advanced athlete looking to build your bench press (or the muscle that contribute to the bench press) consider adding the dumbbell bench press to your program.

Click HERE to watch an in-depth video on the barbell bench press and HERE to read about the muscles trained in the bench press.

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