Is Dumbbell Bench Better? In a Word…Yes

If you had the choice between dumbbell bench and regular bench press which one would you choose and why? Many trainers are more of a fan of doing bench press for the reasons of creating more power and ego. The bench press has been such a standard of manhood for the last twenty years. I still cringe when I think of how demoralizing it was to not be a very good bench presser in High School. People would look at me like I had some kind of incurable disease. Turns out I was just not built for it but at the time, I nor anyone else cared. All that mattered was if they could do more than me.

The bench press is a great test of upper body strength, however, in my opinion thats where it should end. Use it as a test but not as a training tool. here is a partial list of why it should be avoided as your primary overload move for the chest.
First it does not create higher levels of muscular efficiency. As you may have guessed if you have been reading this blog for awhile this is ultimately what determines if a move is worth doing in my opinion.
Next it does not correct strength imbalances, it creates them. Any amount of strength imbalance whether it is one arm stronger than the other or a different amount of range of motion between the shoulders are greatly magnified by the bench press.
For me though the biggest issue is that people will cheat like crazy to pretend they can push more weight, arching the back, straining through their neck and shoulders, pushing off with your feet, all these are sad pathetic attempts at wishing you could push more weight. I feel so sad that I fell for the notion that this move actually mattered in High School and tried all of these cheats and more to get that extra 5 pounds.
For those of you who think I am just ripping the move because I was not that good at it save it. Once I learned how to train for efficiency and went back to it several years later, my bench press magically jumped about 70 pounds. It made me realize even more how much the move was not a good choice for training.


Now what would make the Dumbbell Bench better? Well its simple, it has less negative side effects to it. First off the strength imbalance can be corrected since you are allowing each arm to work independently of one another. Next the range of motion issue is addresses in that without a bar hitting your chest and ultimately limiting your natural range of motion, the dumbbells allow you to take each shoulder through its full range of motion. 

I could actually go on about this for thousands of words but I wont make you read that much. For now, trust me that you are far better off doing dumbbell bench.

3 Comments on this post


  1. Ok Coach S here is my thoughts on the Smith Rack. wrote:

    […] we discussed the differences between the Traditional Barbell bench press and a Dumbbell version brought up the question of how good of a product is the Smith Rack. […]

    April 23rd, 2009 at 4:55 am
  1. coach S said:

    I think you should do a product review on the Smith machines. The guided bench press machine would specifically pertain to this topic. I think its a tool that people use thinking they are going to “isolate” their chest muscles to make them bigger and stronger.

    April 22nd, 2009 at 1:56 am
  2. Scott said:

    Check out the post on the 23rd. Ask and you shall receive on train2move.

    April 22nd, 2009 at 8:01 pm


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