Dumbbell vs. Barbell Bench Press: Make a choice the Proper Higher-Frame Builder

Ahh, the legendary bench press. It holds a different position in lots of lifters’ hearts. The draw of a muscular chest, rounded shoulders, and bulging triceps is what makes many fall in love with benching, both with a barbell or a couple of dumbbells.

Whether or not you’re an athlete or simply wish to glance just right, bench urgent is the go-to urgent workout to slap on higher physique length and energy.  

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The barbell bench press is an integral member of the powerlifting large 3, at the side of the again squat and deadlift. The vintage bench is even related to its personal day the week. Who hasn’t sought after to do the barbell bench press on a Monday most effective to discover a dozen different gymnasium participants with the similar concept?

Thankfully, it’s half-brother — the dumbbell bench press — is the same motion, but it surely’s much more forgiving at the joints and you wish to have to paintings more difficult general to stabilize the weights. Right here we’ll dive deep into each workout routines so you’ll be able to make a choice when to accomplish each and every consistent with your targets. Let’s get able to bench press, by hook or by crook.

Dumbbell Bench Press and Barbell Bench Press

Dumbbell and Barbell Bench Press Variations

The important thing variations to the bare eye appear obvious — it’s the apparatus, both one barbell or two dumbbells are used. However the press setup and different slight variations must even be spotted between those two incredible urgent permutations.

Muscle Recruitment

Each workout routines recruit the pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulder), and triceps to various levels relying at the variation used. The barbell locks your joints into a particular vary of movement each time. As it’s one attached unit, the barbell’s balance means that you can press extra weight than dumbbells, which require each and every arm to paintings independently.

man in gym lying on bench lifting heavy dumbbells
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The urgent trail with the dumbbells incessantly varies reasonably with each and every rep and calls for extra upper-body stabilizers since the vary of movement (ROM) isn’t fastened — the weights generally tend to sway in all instructions greater than a barbell. This implies your rotator cuff and shoulder stabilizers are became on extra to give protection to your shoulder joint.


Until you have got specialised apparatus, there’s no strategy to unrack and re-rack dumbbells like with the barbell bench press. Getting the dumbbells in place for the click calls for effort and sound solution to keep away from harm, and the similar in case you have completed your press. Getting the dumbbells into the beginning place can transform much more difficult as your operating weights get heavier.

With a barbell, it’s a fairly easy subject of unracking the bar from the bench helps and changing it on the finish of the set. The method is the same irrespective of the load at the bar.


A barbell means that you can press the usage of both an ordinary overhand grip, a false (thumbless) grip, and even an underhand grip. Every of those have their very own advantages — the underhand grip recruits extra of your shoulders and biceps for additonal balance, whilst the false grip can lend a hand to scale back shoulder joint pressure. (1) On the other hand, the barbell doesn’t be offering any freedom of motion at your wrists all through the motion. Whenever you grip the bar, you’re locked into that place till the set ends.

Dumbbells permit a lot more number of wrist motion, which will cut back pressure to your elbows and shoulder joints. One key distinction is that dumbbells mean you can press with a impartial (fingers dealing with) grip. No longer most effective does that put your shoulders and fingers within the most powerful leverage place, but it surely stresses the shoulder joint much less as a result of it’s neither internally nor externally turned around.

Dumbbell and Barbell Bench Press Similarities

Each flat bench press permutations are horizontal presses, the place you lie to your again, press the load up, and decrease it down. In that vein, there are a number of similarities regardless of the apparatus and setup variations. Right here’s how the workout routines are other branches of the similar tree.

Coaching The Similar Muscle tissues

As a result of they’re each horizontal urgent actions, along with your physique in the similar place relative to the load, each the dumbbell press and and barbell bench press have interaction the chest as the main operating physique phase.

Each workout routines are finished with the help of your triceps and shoulders (in particular the anterior, or entrance, head of the muscle), whilst your higher again, core, or even your legs give a contribution to total-body balance.

Higher Frame Urgent Energy and Power

The barbell bench press is the urgent variation the place you’ll be capable of use extra general weight, which lends itself to constructing critical higher urgent energy and energy. It’s no longer unusual for an skilled lifter to barbell bench press 300 or extra kilos.

person in gym performing bench press
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Whilst the dumbbell bench press doesn’t permit for as a lot whole load — the usage of a couple of 100-pound dumbbells, or 200 whole kilos, can be an fulfillment for gymnasium veterans— the workout nonetheless creates an amazing strength-building stimulus. Each workout routines contain horizontal adduction (bringing your fingers in combination towards your centerline), and each can construct muscle, energy, and tool within the chest and triceps.

Key Method Variations

The dumbbell bench press and the barbell bench press have explicit methodology variations influencing the effects delivered. Right here’s a more in-depth have a look at precisely what makes them other.  

Urgent Trail

With the dumbbell bench press, you’re coordinating the weights as you press each and every dumbbell in my view. It will deal with muscular imbalances between your left and proper facets, whilst the barbell calls for you to push as a unmarried unit with each palms. This adjustments the urgent trail and vary of movement in a couple of techniques.

The dumbbells can transfer in a definite arc and make allowance for extra arm adduction — you’ll be able to carry your fingers shut to one another within the most sensible place, which can’t be finished with a barbell.

man in gym pressing dumbbells during chest exercise
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The barbell’s vary of movement is extra fastened as a result of your hand remains in position and the barbell stops at chest-level. The dumbbells aren’t blocked by means of your chest within the backside place, which will permit for a bit of extra vary of movement and a extra intensive stretch at the chest and shoulders.

Higher Frame Place

It is not uncommon with the barbell bench press to look an important decrease again arch and a puffed-out chest to shorten the variability of movement. This acts as a kind of counterbalance and will particularly occur when the usage of heavier weight.

That is tricky to do with the dumbbell bench press, and this place isn’t as vital as a result of there’s no want to meet your chest with the dumbbells. Whilst you do nonetheless want to use your decrease physique to brace all through the dumbbell bench press, your torso remains most commonly flat at the bench.

Dumbbells also are fairly tougher to stabilize during the workout, that means each and every rep can be very reasonably other from the following as a result of your shoulder stabilizers can be operating more difficult than with the barbell motion.  

Grip Choices

The barbell locks your palms into two elementary kinds of grip: overhand or underhand (which will each be finished with dumbbells). The barbell bench press means that you can range the width of your grip to switch the emphasis at the muscle tissues educated. Urgent along with your palms nearer will prioritize your triceps, whilst a much wider grip will emphasize your chest and shoulders.

Essentially the most vital distinction between the normal barbell and dumbbells is the power to press with a impartial grip which stresses the wrists, elbows, and shoulder joints much less, making it a more sensible choice if discomfort or deficient joint mobility is a matter.  

How you can Dumbbell Bench Press

Sit down on a flat bench with a dumbbell on each and every knee. Lie again and lift your knees to power the dumbbells again against your shoulders whilst urgent the dumbbells up right into a locked out place above your chest.

Slowly decrease the weights, preserving your elbows angled out at kind of 45-degrees. Within the backside place, when your elbows are just about point along with your torso or whilst you’ve reached a at ease stretch, push the dumbbells again up.

Shape Tip: On account of the possibly higher vary of movement when the usage of dumbbells, some lifters generally tend to assume “extra is healthier.” However whilst you drop your elbows below-level along with your torso, your shoulders transform extra externally turned around which places them in a extra susceptible place. Stay your elbows kind of even along with your torso within the backside place to scale back the danger of joint pressure.


  • Lifting each and every dumbbell in my view can lend a hand fortify developmental imbalances between fingers.
  • The dumbbell bench press means that you can teach with a top depth the usage of a fairly decrease weight, which will support higher physique length and energy with out put on and tear from heavy loading.
  • It offers your wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints a smash from the barbell as a result of the power to make use of a impartial grip.  

Dumbbell Bench Press Diversifications

The dumbbell provides higher freedom of motion, permitting you to coach the dumbbell bench press from various angles and positions for higher general muscle construction.

Unmarried-Arm Dumbbell Flooring Press

This single-arm ground press will teach your core and shoulder stabilizers extra because of the offset load that will get overlooked all through bilateral (two-arm) urgent.

It’s additionally a shoulder-saver as it gets rid of the decrease vary of movement, which is the place the shoulder is externally turned around and issues like shoulder impingement can occur.

Dumbbell Squeeze Press

Relating to constructing energy and muscle, stress is king. (2) The squeeze press cranks up muscle stress to the following point. You carry out this like a typical dumbbell bench press, however you press the hex dumbbells in combination (very similar to the highest of a dumbbell flye) during all of the repetition.

This additional stress equipped by means of the consistent contraction approach you’ll want to use a lighter weight than an ordinary dumbbell bench press, however this transformation will fan the flames of your chest like few different workout routines.

How To Barbell Bench Press

Lie down on a flat bench, reasonably arch your decrease again, and plant your ft at the ground. Pull your shoulder blades in combination and grip the bar with at a at ease and robust width, outdoor of your shoulders. For extra keep an eye on, squeeze your palms onerous to flex your fingers and gripping muscle tissues.

Unrack the barbell and consider pulling it towards your physique to the touch close to your sternum or the bottom of your chest. Press the bar up, preserving your higher again tight and your shoulder blades pulled in combination.

Shape Tip: Many lifters assume the barbell bench press is simply an “higher physique” workout, however this couldn’t be farther from the reality. Growing stress along with your decrease physique — pushing your ft again and down which flexes your calves, hamstrings, and glutes — is a counterbalance that builds total-body balance and is helping you press extra weight safely.


  • The barbell bench press recruits various higher physique muscle tissues together with the chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and lats, which is helping to construct extra higher physique length and energy.
  • In comparison to the dumbbell bench press, you’ll be able to probably load the bench press up with an excessively heavy weight. 
  • It has direct carryover for powerlifters as it’s some of the 3 lifts judged in a contest.

Barbell Bench Press Diversifications

There are a number of efficient barbell bench press permutations, however the two beneath will in particular lend a hand construct lockout energy for your triceps, which has an enormous carryover in your barbell bench press efficiency.

Shut Grip Bench Press

A close-grip bench press is identical in each appreciate as the usual bench press, however you place your palms kind of shoulder-width aside. This adjustments your leverage and shifts the burden extra in your triceps and no more in your chest.

For the reason that arm place focuses extra at the triceps, it takes some pressure off the shoulder joints however puts reasonably extra pressure at the elbow joints. It’s a gentle balancing act, and it’s best to change your grip width to keep away from overuse accidents.

Barbell Flooring Press

Very similar to the dumbbell ground press however a bit of more difficult to to start with arrange, the barbell ground press we could use extra weight than the dumbbell variation. This can be a shoulder-saver and focuses extra at the triceps than the chest as a result of the decreased vary of movement.

Probably the most vital benefits of the barbell ground press is that it takes the decrease physique out of it to center of attention fully on strict higher physique urgent energy. In the event you don’t have get entry to to an adjustable squat rack with a low surroundings to put the bar, then discovering a spotter to lend a hand get the bar into place is vital.

When to Program the Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press

Many lifters carry out the barbell bench press and its permutations as a result of that’s what they have got at all times finished. However don’t cut price the dumbbell bench press, as each can be utilized to support your higher physique energy and length.

Aggressive Powerlifting

The barbell bench press is without doubt one of the powerlifting “large 3,” at the side of the barbell squat and deadlift, so it must at all times take precedence in each aggressive powerlifter’s program.

On the other hand, urgent with a barbell at all times can give upward push to overuse accidents because of exaggerating energy imbalances and cumulative put on and tear to your joints from being locked into the similar vary of movement. Sometimes the usage of the dumbbell bench press and its permutations as “accent workout routines” will give your joints a smash and cut back imbalances between fingers.

Basic Power

Both bench press variation may also be efficient for non-competitive lifters fascinated about constructing energy. With its higher balance and stuck ROM, the barbell bench press means that you can elevate heavier weights than the dumbbell bench press. And dumbbells in maximum gyms most effective cross so top and transform awkward to get into place; the barbell bench press must shape maximum of your energy paintings.

Use the dumbbell bench press to fortify imbalances between facets and as a smash for the barbell when your joints start to bark at you. However each bench permutations will ship energy beneficial properties; it’s a question of private desire.  

Development Muscle

When constructing slabs of higher physique muscle is your objective, each bench press permutations can paintings hand in hand. Bilateral lifts just like the barbell bench press mean you can elevate heavier whole weight, which might benefit a muscle-building program as a result of heavy lots are a technique to reach muscle-building stress.

The dumbbells, being lighter in my view, are higher for upper rep coaching which will additionally ship an higher muscle-building stimulus.

Lifters With Lengthy Palms

Lifters with fairly lengthy fingers could have an extended vary of movement on the subject of urgent when put next the ones with shorter fingers. Typically talking, the ones with shorter fingers can elevate extra weight because of shorter levers growing a positive urgent place.

Lifters with lengthy fingers can use both variation, however must believe how their joints really feel on any given day when opting for which to accomplish. To keep away from anxious joints, go for the dumbbell bench press.

Let’s Get In a position To Press

There’s no one-size-fits-all to resolve which bench press variation you should utilize. Some lifters really feel no discomfort and will successfully press with just a barbell to their middle’s content material. For different lifters, the barbells make their joints indignant and no longer well worth the hassle. The selection between the 2 every now and then comes right down to convenience, non-public desire, and objective. But when ache and discomfort don’t seem to be a topic, each must be utilized in a complete plan to support your higher physique length, energy, and flexing time.


  1. Lehman G. J. (2005). The affect of grip width and forearm pronation/supination on upper-body myoelectric process all through the flat bench press. Magazine of energy and conditioning analysis19(3), 587–591. https://doi.org/10.1519/R-15024.1
  2. Burd, Nicholas & Andrews, Richard & West, Daniel & Little, Jonathan & Cochran, Andrew & Hector, Amy & Cashaback, Joshua & Gibala, Martin & Potvin, James & Baker, Steven & Phillips, Stuart. (2011). Muscle time beneath stress all through resistance workout stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. The Magazine of body structure. 590. 351-62. 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200.

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