Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Shoulders, Triceps
Target Muscle Group

Chest

Chest Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Bench Press Overview

The dumbbell bench press is a variation of the barbell bench press and an exercise used to build the muscles of the chest.

Often times, the dumbbell bench press is recommended after reaching a certain point of strength on the barbell bench press to avoid pec and shoulder injuries.

Additionally, the dumbbell bench press provides an ego check in the amount of weight used due to the need to maintain shoulder stability throughout the exercise.

The exercise itself can be featured as a main lift in your workouts or an accessory lift to the bench press depending on your goals.

Dumbbell Bench Press Instructions

  1. Pick up the dumbbells off the floor using a neutral grip (palms facing in). Position the ends of the dumbbells in your hip crease, and sit down on the bench.
  2. To get into position, lay back and keep the weights close to your chest. Once you are in position, take a deep breath, and press the dumbbells to lockout at the top.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells under control as far as comfortably possible (the handles should be about level with your chest).
  4. Contract the chest and push the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

**Dropping the dumbbells to the side is discouraged unless you are experienced with the technique or using excessively heavy weights.

**Ideally you should twist the dumbbells back to neutral (palms facing each other), bring your knees up so the ends of the dumbbells are touching your thighs, then use the weight of the dumbbells to rock back to an upright, seated position.

Dumbbell Bench Press Tips

  1. Maintain more tension through the pecs by not locking out the elbows entirely.
  2. Keep the weights slightly tilted at a 45 degree angle in order to keep the elbows in a neutral position.
  3. Don’t allow the dumbbells to collide at the top of each rep - bouncing them together may cause you to lose stability within the shoulder and injure yourself.
  4. Squeeze the dumbbells as tight as possible to improve a phenomenon known as “irradiation” which promotes greater shoulder stability.
  5. Keep your shoulder blades pinched together to ensure the shoulders remain in a safe position.
  6. Imagine you’re trying to push yourself away from the weights rather than pushing the weights away from yourself.
  7. If you’re feeling pain within the shoulder joint itself (specifically at the front), ensure your shoulder blades are slightly retracted and try to keep the shoulder girdle “packed”.
  8. Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs and don’t allow your lower back to arch excessively.
  9. Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t allow the lower body to move during the set.
80 Comments
Gary
Posted on: Tue, 04/30/2024 - 18:06

I don’t feel this in my chest at all, just my arms. I am pinching my shoulder blades and holding them at a 45 degree angle - nothing. Can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. Advice?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/13/2024 - 20:42

Hi Gary, going to sound silly, but this may work.

When you get to the bottom of the rep, pause, then focus on flexing your chest instead of pressing. Literally make your pecs flex before you start pressing.

KD
Posted on: Sun, 04/07/2024 - 15:12

I have been doing kettlebell workouts everyday for the last month and a half and have lost a good amount of weight (my goal) and gained some strength. I now want to start dumbbell training for size mainly and still fat loss. I bought a set of adjustable dumbbells that go to 50lbs each. Will this be enough weight? And how will I know what weight to use for each exercise while I am starting this program? Just use a weight that barely lets me finish the sets? Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2024 - 20:13

Hey KD. I don't know how strong you are. So, it is hard for me to say that 50 would be enough. How big were your kettlebells?

As for what weight to use, trial and error. Start light and work up until you feel challenged. The last set of each exercise should be the one you push yourself on the hardest. Are you using one of the M&S workouts?

KD
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 09:11

I was using two 25 lbs and one 40 lb kettle bell. And yes I plan on doing the 4 day dumbbell full body workout. I am 6’2” and now about 255 (down from 300 lbs).

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 18:21

Dang, congrats! That is awesome progress.

Then I think the 50's would be ok for a while. I won't be surprised if you get strong enough to need more by the end of that program. Good luck on it, and thanks for choosing M&S! We appreciate being a small part of your success.

Taliya A
Posted on: Sun, 12/31/2023 - 05:10

I am currently working out at home and I do not have a bench to lay on, could there be any alternatives.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 12/31/2023 - 21:22

Hi, Taliya! I used to have this issue myself, and what I found helped was to fold a blanket longways and place it on the floor for me to lay on as if it was a bench. It increased my range of motion just enough that it made a difference. You can also simply do them lying on the floor until you get a bench. It won't be the same range of motion, but it will still be beneficial.

Good luck, and if you try my tip, please let me know if it works.

Marco
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 07:53

HI, I HAVE A 2 PART QUESTION ABOUT DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS AND RIB INJURIES. LAST MONDAY I DID HEAVY BEHIND THE HEAD DUMBBELL RAISES AND THE NEXT DAY HEAVY DUMBBELL BENCH. NOW I HAD SOME INTERCOSTAL RIB INJURIES BUT FELT LIKE I HEALED, SO I STARTED TO FO DUMBBELL BENCH. WELL WHEN I GOT TO MY MID SET AT 80 POUNDS AND GOT WEIGHTS UP AS IM LAYING DOWN ON THE BENCH, ALL I HEARD WAS MULTI CRACKS/POPS BUT WERE LOUDER THAN USUAL. I THOUGHT NOTHING OF IT AND WENT UP NEXT TO 105 WHERE IT WAS HARD TO GET UP BUT I DID THE SET. WOULD ANYONE THINK THAT WITH THE INJURY AND SORE RIBS PRIOR WOULD ACCOUNT FOR THE SORE AND SENSITIVE SPOTS ON MY RIBS? I KNOW ITS A LOT TO READ BUT I HAVE TO WRITE IT SO THAT PEOPLE GET AN IDEA OF WHAT IM GOING THRU. TKS FOR ANY INFO.

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 09/27/2023 - 14:24

Marco, the best suggestion is to get checked out by a doctor and make sure you didn't do anything serious. The soreness may not be that serious, but you also want to make sure you didn't do anything else beyond what you felt.

lo
Posted on: Mon, 07/17/2023 - 08:33

how much time between reps for resting?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:15

The rest between sets depends on the program you're following. Most if not all of our workouts have rest between sets included.

Dave the Hampto...
Posted on: Wed, 09/14/2022 - 08:20

I love M & S, always gives free PDFs on training, and doesn't pull any bunches. I follow some of the workouts on this site and I am a true believer in my TRX Suspension Pro Straps along with lifting iron too. I love the DB workouts because you have to balance them along with lifting whatever weight one is using. I lift heavy and have the Olympic dumbbell handles from Hampton. Good equipment is all I use in my home gym and the last thing I need is something to collapse when I am lifting because I am a big dude.

Ramo
Posted on: Mon, 06/13/2022 - 13:00

Why am i feeling this more in my arm then my chest?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 06/15/2022 - 09:08

Hard to say, Ramo. Try pulling your shoulders back and together so your chest sticks up more. Then, focus on contracting the chest instead of simply pushing the weight. You can also turn your hands and the dumbbells so they are at a 45 degree angle with your thumbs turned inside. Hope this helps!

Bennie holmes
Posted on: Tue, 01/18/2022 - 15:51

What is the burn for 5minutes?

John
Posted on: Fri, 06/25/2021 - 19:07

Hi do I make my palms face out when I lay down?

Peter
Posted on: Tue, 06/15/2021 - 14:04

Someone here said they didn't have a bench and you told them to do floor press exercise instead, but on the description of the floor press it says the target muscles are different than this one. Can I really replace this exercise with the floor press?

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 06/16/2021 - 08:47

Hey Peter - yes you can. Floor presses will target more of the triceps due to the limited range of motion, but they are a good replacement.

jack wilkins
Posted on: Tue, 03/21/2023 - 10:02

will doing floor presses help with explosion from the bottom on a regular bench press

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 03/27/2023 - 20:51

Not necessarily from the bottom, Jack. It will, however, help you with the midpoint and lockout. Pause at the bottom of the rep and push up as quickly as you can when you do your reps.

Hamed
Posted on: Mon, 04/26/2021 - 14:32

Hello
, i just wanted to know my resting period time, how many seconds should i wait for the next rep?
Thank you

Wiebe
Posted on: Sun, 03/07/2021 - 10:56

Is it normal that I dont feel my chest during the workout but only the day after (it kind of hurts). And if this isnt normal, what should I change to actively feel my chest during the workout?

ramit
Posted on: Fri, 01/22/2021 - 00:44

can i do normal pushups instead of this as i dont have a bench

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Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 01/22/2021 - 09:34

Hey ramit - you can do a floor press instead: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/dumbbell-floor-press.html

Aaron
Posted on: Sun, 01/03/2021 - 05:18

Is it better to super set the workouts or do one exercise at a time I’m new to working out and for now I’ve been doing one set of each workouts consecutively

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 01/05/2021 - 09:11

Hey Aaron - it depends on the exercises you're super setting. It's best to follow your programming as written and most programs will have you perform all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next.

Jordan
Posted on: Mon, 12/28/2020 - 03:15

So do we change up the weights or cause I’m doing 25 pounds rn so everyday do I change the weight or do I continue until I think it’s too easy ?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 12/28/2020 - 10:13

Hey Jordan - the weight you use will depend on the program.

rayan
Posted on: Tue, 11/17/2020 - 18:53

What if i only have one dumbbell??
Can i do one arm after the other or am i gonna f up my shape??

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Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 11/19/2020 - 09:56

Hey rayan - yes, you can do one arm at a time.

Jorge Rumeo
Posted on: Tue, 11/17/2020 - 15:16

Can I do this on the floor? If so, what would I change?

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Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 11/19/2020 - 09:56

Hey Jorge - here's a video of a dumbbell floor press: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/dumbbell-floor-press.html

Eric M
Posted on: Mon, 11/09/2020 - 15:48

When you finish the 8 week program should that be followed by the 4 day workout immediately or do you take a week or two off to recuperate?

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 11/10/2020 - 09:14

Hey Eric - which program are you referencing?

Sthefano
Posted on: Mon, 12/08/2014 - 13:14

Can we substitute the dumbells with a bar and weights like a regular bench press but lower weight?

Armzilla06
Posted on: Thu, 03/03/2016 - 19:18

As the hodgetwins would say "do whatever the F you wanna do!"

albert
Posted on: Mon, 04/14/2014 - 01:03

Hi, any diet tips?

Jen D
Posted on: Fri, 04/04/2014 - 12:16

Why do I see some people only go to 90 degrees. When I asked they said that if I broke 90 it would cause too much shoulder strain. Thoughts?

Jill
Posted on: Sat, 03/01/2014 - 13:54

Ok, probably a silly question here, but does it matter how you complete the sets? Do you do all 3 sets of the 1st listed exercise & then move onto the next listed exercise? Or do you do 1 set of each exercise listed in order, then start over for 2nd & 3rd sets?

Dan hauxwell
Posted on: Thu, 09/13/2018 - 15:17

So fare very thing is great

Asma
Posted on: Sun, 10/20/2013 - 15:55

What do you advice as starting weight for women?

Cameron Dietrich
Posted on: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 18:54

Depends on what you're looking for, if you're looking to build strength, target a rep range like 6-12 then pick the lowest weight at which you can obtain 6 reps with perfect form, then work on that weight until you can hit 12 on that first set, once that happens bump the weight up a bit more, rinse, repeat.

peter
Posted on: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 15:21

Do u perform 3 sets of drop sets on week 2

Les Laxson
Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:20

How do you go about find the correct weight you should use when working out. I would usually just target a certain percentage of my max lift weight for whatever results I was looking for endurance, strength or Mass, etc.

joel miller
Posted on: Sun, 02/21/2016 - 16:11

im 65 yrs old shoud i not lift real heavy

anonymous
Posted on: Tue, 05/28/2013 - 18:37

Can I do this on the bed? because I dont have any chair or table to do this ?

lmao
Posted on: Sun, 05/26/2013 - 11:06

can i do this exercise with only 1 dummbell ? if so how can i perform it

Caleb
Posted on: Mon, 07/12/2021 - 21:51

You just do one arm at a time until you are satisfied at which point it seems like you can move onto the other arm.

chris soza
Posted on: Tue, 04/23/2013 - 13:52

HI two questions if any can answer them, are 20 pounds dumbells good to start off with as a beginner? and what if i dont have a bench, what else good i use substitute?.