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.
62 Comments
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.

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?.

shiva reddy
Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 07:48

every set of body parts have different sizes , for ur chest u have to do daily flat flys with 5 kg , what ever ur workout may be , first do flys then go for ur workout ... u will see differece in 3 weeks....

alan
Posted on: Sat, 03/09/2013 - 06:13

doing the 12 week beginers program are those sets a miss print is it 21 sets or 2 sets for the first 3 exercises on the table for weeks 4 to 6 of the program

Aej
Posted on: Thu, 03/07/2013 - 18:30

I started as a male a couple months ago and started on 5kgs. Dumbbell presses look a lot easier to master than they are (especially if you overload yourself) so start low on something like 3-4 kgs until u get the technique then move up when you feel you can.

Jenna
Posted on: Mon, 02/18/2013 - 16:17

What is a good weight dumbbell for a beginner, female, who wants to build muscle?

Lloyd
Posted on: Tue, 02/12/2013 - 13:59

No, Nicholas. In my opinion if you're going to bother with anything at all just invest in some gear. Nothing wrong with using the dumbbells and pushups etc, but you're not going to get very far at all. Might see some improvement over a relatively short period of time, then it will stop. Sure, you can maintain it but you wont improve any further without more weight. Commit, do it right, or it's a waste. ;)

Bob
Posted on: Sat, 11/09/2019 - 13:17

Not everyone even has room for a bench, they should figure out a different exercise

Nicolas
Posted on: Tue, 01/29/2013 - 18:16

I searched for a dumbbell only workout and found this. It shouldn't be in that workout, because you need dumbbells as well as an exercise bench. I don't live close to any gyms and don't have a bench. Does anyone know some good chest workouts I can do?

BB
Posted on: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 22:50

You could use a cooler as a bench it does the same pretty much as a bench ..

Jay Jones
Posted on: Tue, 10/27/2020 - 23:20

I use a cooler thanks for the idea lol

Bob
Posted on: Sat, 11/09/2019 - 13:16

Yeah this I was just doing it on the floor but that's a separate thing?

waffu22
Posted on: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 09:12

for chest work out.how many days should i perform for 1 week. is it OK to work out everyday? or every other day?

Fabrizio Bianchi
Posted on: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 14:34

Is it wrong to turn the dumbbells parallel to each other towards the end of the movement?

Eric
Posted on: Sun, 11/04/2012 - 17:31

I don't have a weight bench, any alternatives? Thought on stability ball?

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Joey
Posted on: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 10:17

The stability ball will work well. Eventually you'll need a bench to be able to push more weight.

Eric
Posted on: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 10:34

I dont have a bench and i noticed that you already included floor presses on a later day in the workout. Can i substitute floor presses again here or is there another good exercise i can substitute here without a bench.

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Joey
Posted on: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 10:16

Floor press is a good substitute. Eventually, you'll want to invest in a bench to be able to push more weight.

ehi
Posted on: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 06:38

I dont understand when you say, DO NOT DROP THE DUMBELLS, recently I have moved up to 40kg each an dont see any other way to drop them.

pls advice, tnx

Nasir
Posted on: Sun, 09/23/2012 - 07:30

If I don't have the bench, can I don't other exercises which the result is the same as this one?

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