Dumbbell bench press exercise

Dumbbell bench press

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Pectoralis Major
  • Synergists: Anterior Deltoid, Triceps Brachii, Biceps Brachii (short head only)
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Starting position

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, sit on a flat bench and rest one dumbbell on each knee.
  2. As you lie back on the bench, kick each dumbbell up into position, one at a time.
  3. Position the dumbbells to the sides of your chest, with your arms bent at a 90-degree angle. Your elbows should not be pointing straight out to the sides; rather, tuck them in a little to approximately a 45-degree angle.
  4. Spread your legs, bring your feet back, and place them firmly on the ground. Either your toes or your heels should be planted firmly on the floor.
  5. Arch your back and straighten your wrists.


  1. Exhale as you slowly press the dumbbells upward and inward until your arms are almost fully extended and the dumbbells nearly touch.
  2. Inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, or until you feel a slight stretch in your chest.
  3. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Planting your feet, arching your back, tucking your elbows in, and straightening your wrists allow you to drive from your legs, through your body, and up through your arms—thus getting your entire body behind the press.
  • Keeping your elbows tucked in a little also reduces the pressure on your shoulders.
  • After you finish, do not drop the dumbbells by your sides. Instead, raise your knees and carefully bring the dumbbells down onto your knees, after which the weight of the dumbbells will push your legs down and help you to sit up.
  • The advantages of the dumbbell bench press over the barbell bench press are that it allows a greater range of motion and doesn’t allow your stronger side to make up for your weaker side. The dumbbell bench press also recruits more stabilizer muscles.
  • Also see the barbell bench press and the dumbbell press on a stability ball.

Dumbbell bench press video


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