T Nation

Angle of Dumbell Flat Bench Press


I really, really like the dumbell flat bench press.

In fact, I can bench slightly more weight with dumbells than a flat bench, which, according to all my friends, makes me a mutant.

I angle the dumbbells such that they slightly form a "triangle" instead of as if they were held together with an imaginary barbell, if that makes sense. It just feels better and more secure.

Is there anything bad or good about doing DBB in the "triangle" method? Or just the way it is?

FWIW, I am very tall with long arms.


Neutral grip is what you're talking about :slight_smile:

People would probably say that you're getting more tricep action doing it neutral grip like that. Bodybuilders seem to always like using a more elbows out form on DB bench to get more chest activation. However I have also done DB bench with a "hammer grip" such that the dumbbells are parallel to each other, and I felt that a ton in my lower pecs.

It's probably not that big a deal though unless you really aren't feeling it in your chest when you bench this way. FWIW it's also safer. Less chance of pec tear or shoulder issues with that sort of grip, although dumbbells are already pretty safe on the chest and shoulders.


I prefer to do it the way you have described. I always find that it feels more natural and puts less stress on the shoulder joint.


I think most people are stronger and automatically tend to do it that way.

However, I think doing it the BBing way (elbows out) hits the pecs better (less shoulder dominance). As a matter of fact, I have started doing it that way for the first time this week. Feels a bit weird and weaker but the pec pump+stretch is great/better. I do them on a low incline bench with continuous tension/no lockout.

Compare the 3 different styles here. 1st BBing style, 2nd semi tucked, 3rd extremely tuck.


Thanks, all.

Glad to know I am not a retard here, as I've looked around typical commercial gyms, and I'm the only one doing it, and just suddenly got paranoid.


Many years ago I bought into the 'elbows in is more triceps' broscience school of thought. Then I chatted with Jim Cordova who told me that he felt a more neutral grip targets your mid pecs better. I tried it and it felt great, right in the part of my chest where Jim described it. Then I discussed it with my brother the DPT who pointed out that it has nothing to do with the hand positioning, and more about the elbows and the angle of the stretch (which is something I always talked about 'angle of pull' in past writings).

As to the 'Triangle' approach, you have to realize that what has become the typical hand position when benching with DBs is most likely a carry over from working with a bar. With a bar, you HAVE TO place your hands with your palms facing towards your feet. There's no other way to grip the bar. This has probably done more to subconsciously reinforce the proper or standard method most trainers employ.
Personally, I like to use a neutral or triangular approach. It just feel more natural, and lets me really focus on a deeper stretch, and definitely a tighter contraction and the top of the movement.



As has been said, nothing wrong with the way you are doing.

I agree with Stu that i actually feel more pec activation when doing it tehe way you are on flat bench.

That being said, and this may not apply to you, but as a fellow tall lifter with long arms, when doing INCLINE bench i feel i get a better stretch and more activation when i keep the DB's flush (as if there were a bar holding them together)

Of course, if you dont do DB incline press, then forget about that last part.


Well with a neutral grip ( II ) << like that you will actually be bringing more tricep into the equation but anatomically its SOOO much safer and like everyone else said it gives you a deeper stretch and as long as your feeling it in your chest then it doesnt matter.

I prefer the DBs like this>> ( / \ ) just because my triceps and shoulders are stronger than my chest so if I go neutral then its mostly tri's but if I go Parallel ( - - ) its mostly shoulders.

To me if im on an incline neutral is the way to go, it took some getting used to but MAN the pump in the upper pecs is insane.