How To Do The Dumbbell Bench Press : The Complete Guide

The Dumbbell Bench Press is the exercise that you should be doing if you are looking to bulk up your chest and increase your upper body push strength.

This exercise goes hand in hand with the Barbell Bench Press and should be included in your workout routine as it allows for a greater range of motion while performing the exercise and trains both the sides equally as it is unilateral in nature which would in turn help to minimize any strength and muscle imbalances in the body.

While the main muscle worked by this exercise are the pecs, it also works the anterior deltoids, the triceps, and the core. Now, before you lie down on the bench and start cranking out reps, it is crucial to learn how to do it correctly.

Dumbbell Bench Press
Image by 5132824 from Pixabay

Learning The Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Sit on the bench keeping both the dumbbells on your thighs. Now, with the assistance from the thighs, lift the dumbbells up near your shoulder region and lie down while holding the dumbbells. Do it in a fluid motion.
  2. Lie back on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand just to the sides of your shoulders. Your palms should be facing towards your feet in the starting position, although if you have shoulder issues then switch to a neutral grip, where the palms face each other.
  3. Place your feet firmly on the ground, with your core tight and your scapula retracted. Remember to have your chest slightly raised as it will take the strain off the shoulders and keep your shoulder blades retracted.
  4. Keep your dumbbells at a 45-degree angle so that they are neither directly facing each other nor are they facing your towards your legs. Just in between. Doing this will save you from shoulder injuries. 
  5. Now, push the weight up in slow and controlled motion and lower it. Taking advantage of the larger range of motion, lower it a little below the chest level but be careful not to overdo it.

Common Mistakes

  1. Shoulder Position – This is critical. Shoulder injuries are common on the bench, and very often, that’s because of poor shoulder position. Start in the correct position; when the dumbbells are directly over your shoulders, think about driving your shoulders into the bench, and flexing your mid-back muscles. As you lower the dumbbells toward your chest, keep flexing those back muscles; it should feel like you’re pulling the dumbbells to your chest.
  2. Feet Flat on the Floor – Never put your feet on the bench or on the bench support. It is feet flat on the floor, driving through your heels. You want your glutes squeezed and contracted on that bench, too. Then tighten up your core; think about using your abs to pull your ribcage tight to your torso.


  1. Breathing – Do not forget to breathe while performing the exercise, breath in while lowering the weight, and breath out while pushing the weight up.
  2. Elbow Position – Never let your elbows become parallel to your shoulders when you bench. Think about keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle, lower than your shoulders. This will help protect your rotator cuffs.
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