Dumbbell bench presses: The basics

Lying dumbbell presses are a great way to work all your chest muscles. It is possible to engage the entire pectoral muscles by performing the exercise in different positions. In addition to horizontal, the bench press is used at different angles to load different parts of the muscle.

Trained muscles

The dumbbell bench press is similar to the barbell press in terms of the effect on the muscles. So, the main effort falls on all the pectoral muscles. In the second place, the front bundles of deltoids and triceps work. Many other muscles also play a supporting role in the exercise.

The position of the body when pressing dumbbells determines which group of pectoral muscles will work:

  • Horizontal position – the effort is in the middle of the chest;
  • Position at an incline angle – the upper chest works;
  • Position at a decline angle – the effort falls on the lower chest.

Benefits of the dumbbell press

Traditionally, athletes use the barbell press. But the use of dumbbells has its advantages, and in some cases there will be more benefits from them, especially if you combine a press on a horizontal and an incline bench.

Dumbbell bench presses: The basics

Beginners starting with dumbbells

Coming to the gym for the first time, you need to understand that everything has its time and you don’t need to grab the barbell right away. Until the muscles have gained strength, until the technique has been worked out, light dumbbells are the best option. The barbell has a weight of 20 kg. This may already be too much for the fragile muscles. Dumbbells will allow you to learn how to work with weight and gain strength for working with a barbell.

Even when the initial stage of the training process is completed and the athlete is already confidently pressing the barbell, you should not give up the dumbbells. They will be a great tool for additional muscle loading after working with large weights. Also, working with free weights allows you to work on the stabilizing muscles and develop them ready for harder lifts.

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Squeeze the maximum out of your muscles

Experienced athletes are familiar with the feeling when the muscles are still ready to work, but they can no longer cope with the barbell. They won’t even pull the bar. That’s when they move on to dumbbells. They will help squeeze the rest of the strength out of the muscles. The ideal dumbbell press is an incline as a final exercise. It will allow you to load both the pectoral muscles, and the front bundles of the deltoids and triceps.

To maximize the “emptying” of the muscles, it is enough to use small weights. You can do 2 sets of 15-20 reps. At first, there will be an unbearable burning sensation in the muscles, then it will be replaced by a feeling of fatigue.

Dumbbell bench presses: The basics

The convenience

Dumbbells are very comfortable for their mobility. The barbell is a stationary tool that requires not only a bench, but also a rack. You can practice with dumbbells in the gym, at home, on the street. It is enough to find a suitable bench (at home, even stools attached to each other are suitable for this purpose).

The inconvenience of the barbell is also that to change the weights, you need to remove and install the weight plates. When working with dumbbells, you do not need to waste time on such manipulations. You can immediately prepare several dumbbells with different weights and put them side by side.

The gym with a dumbbell press is irreplaceable only in the case of working on an incline. In other conditions, it will be difficult to pump the top and bottom of the chest. Also, a lot depends on the training program.

Hands work separately

At first glance, the good thing about the barbell is that it provides an even load on both hands. That is, they train in the same way. But rarely, the strengths of both hands are equal. In practice, at the final stage of the exercise, one has to face a situation when one hand can no longer squeeze out the weight and the other itself will not pull the barbell.

When the dumbbell press is performed, this problem is solved by the fact that the arms work independently of each other. If one hand can no longer cope with its weight, this does not prevent the other hand from squeezing its own.

An additional plus is that when pressing dumbbells, balance stabilizers work actively, which is easy to lose when lifting weights separately. These muscles turn on if one of the arms falls behind and receive additional training.

The position on an incline bench gives greater stability to the torso. The load is redistributed to the heels for reliable support.

The technical side

Any strength exercise gives a positive effect only if it is performed correctly. Consider different options for dumbbell bench press.

Press in a horizontal position

It is necessary to prepare the dumbbells and lay a towel on the bench where the head and back will be. The order of the exercise is as follows:

  1. The dumbbells should be placed next to the bench so that they can be easily reached while sitting on it. You need to lie on a bench so that your head, back and pelvis are on it. No part of the body should hang down.
  2. Legs must be spaced at an angle of 50-60 °. The heels rest securely on the floor. The situation must be stable and stable. If this was achieved, you need to remember the location of body parts and move to a sitting position.
  3. It is necessary to raise the dumbbells and put them on your knees.
  4. You need to go to the lying position, which was picked up earlier. Hands with dumbbells need to be transferred to the chest, then raise them above you, leaving the elbow joint slightly bent.
  5. Dumbbells must be held so that their handles are in one line.
  6.  From the starting position, you need to smoothly lower the dumbbells while inhaling. In this case, the elbows should fall, diverging to the sides.
  7. At the bottom of the movement, a stretch will be felt in the chest muscles. Then, on the exhale, you need to start lifting the dumbbells to the starting position.

The exercise should begin with a warm-up approach. For this, a lighter weight is taken and 10-15 repetitions are performed. Then you can start with the working weight, doing 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Dumbbell bench presses: The basics

Decline press

The decline press differs in that the bench is set at a certain angle (it can change). In this case, the starting position and movements of the hands are somewhat different than with the bench press in a horizontal position. Dumbbell incline exercises can be performed after the barbell press.

A special type of incline dumbbell press is the head down press. It is recommended in cases where there is a noticeable lag in the development of the lower pectoral muscles.

Technically, a decline exercise is performed similarly to a horizontal bench press. But the decline bench press has a number of features:

  • A declined position causes the athlete to slide off the bench. Therefore, it is necessary to choose such a position for the body to be stable;
  • Arms with dumbbells should not move perpendicular to the chest, but strictly up and down. Tilting the bench makes certain muscle groups work;
  • Good stability on a decline bench is achieved due to a supported leg stance compared to a horizontal press.

When pressing with in a decline with your head down, you also need to take into account important nuances:

  • To the head, which is below the body, the blood flow is stronger. Against the background of physical effort, this leads to an increase in intracranial pressure and dizziness. Therefore, older persons need to do this exercise very carefully;
  • Since it is difficult to take dumbbells from such a position, it is better to use the help of an assistant.

The decline press is done in 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. You need to load the muscles until you are completely exhausted. This may require the use of smaller weights. After completing the dumbbell press with your head down, you need to get up slowly so as not to cause dizziness.

Common mistakes

When performing a dumbbell press, you should try to avoid such common mistakes:

  1. Too heavy dumbbells selected. A sign of this will be sudden movements, there will be no smoothness, and therefore the proper effect.
  2. Incorrect projectile feed. With the decline bench press, the athlete takes one dumbbell himself, then takes the starting position. The second should be given to him by the assistant. With a normal incline bench press, this help is not necessary.
  3. Decline press with unsecured legs. The legs must rest firmly on the supports, otherwise the athlete will simply slide down the bench.
  4. Wrong position of the elbows. When moving, the elbows should diverge to the sides so that the shoulders move in the same plane and when viewed from above, form a straight line.
  5. Incorrect head position. When pressing dumbbells, the head should be on the bench and not raised or hanging from it.
  6. Wrong movements. For the exercise to work, the movements must be slow and smooth.

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What else do you need to know?

By itself, the dumbbell press is not able to give a significant increase in muscle mass. It must be combined with other exercises. The main emphasis is on lifting a weight comparable to the weight of the athlete themselves. Lighter weights are recommended for women. However, a dumbbell press will be quite sufficient if you just want to keep your body in good shape.

It is advisable to press dumbbells with only two hands at a time. One-handed practice is ineffective. It is permissible only if one of the hands is disabled for some reason.

For athletes with lower back problems, fitball exercises are suitable. The technique of performing the bench press is no different here and the equipment will reduce the load on the weaker parts of the back.