T Nation

BB vs. DB Bench

I think I’ve given up on BB bench press. Can’t do it, never have been. My max bench is 255. Been working on it, and all attempt to go heavier result in very sore shoulders and failed lifts.

Today I was working up to 260 (man, I was going for it). Got to my warm-up set of 225 and the first rep kicked my ass. Disgusted and pissed, I left the BP and went over to the DB’s grabbed the 80’s and did 3 easy, then 90’s for 2 easy…said “what the hell”, picked up the 100’s and knocked out 1 1/2 reps (a very light spot would have gotten me the second rep). I had never even picked up the 100’s before. What’s more, no shoulder pain.

Anyone else feel stronger on DB bench than BB?

[quote]PGJ wrote:
I think I’ve given up on BB bench press. Can’t do it, never have been. My max bench is 255. Been working on it, and all attempt to go heavier result in very sore shoulders and failed lifts.

Today I was working up to 260 (man, I was going for it). Got to my warm-up set of 225 and the first rep kicked my ass. Disgusted and pissed, I left the BP and went over to the DB’s grabbed the 80’s and did 3 easy, then 90’s for 2 easy…said “what the hell”, picked up the 100’s and knocked out 1 1/2 reps (a very light spot would have gotten me the second rep). I had never even picked up the 100’s before. What’s more, no shoulder pain.

Anyone else feel stronger on DB bench than BB? [/quote]

I think you are demoralized with your poor bench progress and trying to rationalize using dumbbells to feel good. Eighty pound dumbbells are still pretty light.

You can progess on your bar bench with an experienced person to coach your weak points and work you through them and to spot you. If you are trying to increase your bar bench and are alone you aren’t going to make much good progress in getting really heavy on it.

Having a good lifting partner/coach in this area will bring far more results then randomly asking someone to spot you on 225 occasionally.

D

If it doesn’t work for you stick to dumbells and dips. Just stay out of bench pressing meets and you’ll look and be fine.

Dumbbells did help me clear a plataeu a while back. Benching heavy was easier after having to control the heavy DB’s.

No worries man. Try finding out what you’re weakpoint is. I think my BB and DB numbers were about the same as yours back 2 years or so ago. I wouldn’t say that your DB bench is proportionately much stronger. Keep researching and training.

-MAtt

[quote]Dedicated wrote:
PGJ wrote:
I think I’ve given up on BB bench press. Can’t do it, never have been. My max bench is 255. Been working on it, and all attempt to go heavier result in very sore shoulders and failed lifts.

Today I was working up to 260 (man, I was going for it). Got to my warm-up set of 225 and the first rep kicked my ass. Disgusted and pissed, I left the BP and went over to the DB’s grabbed the 80’s and did 3 easy, then 90’s for 2 easy…said “what the hell”, picked up the 100’s and knocked out 1 1/2 reps (a very light spot would have gotten me the second rep). I had never even picked up the 100’s before. What’s more, no shoulder pain.

Anyone else feel stronger on DB bench than BB?

I think you are demoralized with your poor bench progress and trying to rationalize using dumbbells to feel good. Eighty pound dumbbells are still pretty light.

You can progess on your bar bench with an experienced person to coach your weak points and work you through them and to spot you. If you are trying to increase your bar bench and are alone you aren’t going to make much good progress in getting really heavy on it.

Having a good lifting partner/coach in this area will bring far more results then randomly asking someone to spot you on 225 occasionally.

D[/quote]

Well, the DB’s do feel better to my shoulder. I see lots of guys (my size and smaller) in the gym benching 225. I have never seen anyone in my gym pick up the 100’s and bench. Believe me, I’m not trying to brag, but DB’s feel more natural than the bar. I seem to be comapratively stronger on db’s than bb’s on bench press compared to others. I’m just wondering if I should just quit bb bench all together and stick with DB’s (no swiss balls, of course).

[quote]PGJ wrote:
I think I’ve given up on BB bench press. Can’t do it, never have been. My max bench is 255. Been working on it, and all attempt to go heavier result in very sore shoulders and failed lifts.

Today I was working up to 260 (man, I was going for it). Got to my warm-up set of 225 and the first rep kicked my ass. Disgusted and pissed, I left the BP and went over to the DB’s grabbed the 80’s and did 3 easy, then 90’s for 2 easy…said “what the hell”, picked up the 100’s and knocked out 1 1/2 reps (a very light spot would have gotten me the second rep). I had never even picked up the 100’s before. What’s more, no shoulder pain.

Anyone else feel stronger on DB bench than BB? [/quote]

Your BB bench numbers are still larger than your DB numbers. If you are only able to get 1-2 reps with 100lb DBs then try using DBells instead of BBells for all of your chest exercises for a few months or until you can use the 100s for 8-12 reps. Use a full range of motion and proper form. I can almost guarantee that when you go back to BBell you will have passed your plateau. It worked for me. Only hurts if you try ; )

It depends on your individual goals. I no longer lift for strength but basically for hypertrophy. I find I get a better result with DB bench presses (inclines) than barbell presses. I also believe that there is less chance of shoulder injury with DB’s although getting 125 pounders into an incline position by yourself is not a joy ride either. I typically stay away from flat bench presses and stick with inclines and dips.

do you train with a spotter in the barbell. you should always when attempting high intensity lifts whether it is heavy weight or speed reps where fatigue might sight in unexpectedly. if you do not have a proper spotter you will be afraid unconsciously to push your body.

another thing to remember is the hand positioning and motion of the body. The dumbells allow you to shift force production individually in each arm. the barbell is a diffirent story considering you are pushing on a fixed bar. as with any lift i think it takes time to learn it properly. Also think about all the variations when it comes to barbell benches in regards to hand spacing and where the bar starts and the path that it takes in regards to how the arms are positioned. You know how they say there is a difference between a bodybuilding and powerlifting bench press. laters pk

[quote]MaloVerde wrote:
PGJ wrote:
I think I’ve given up on BB bench press. Can’t do it, never have been. My max bench is 255. Been working on it, and all attempt to go heavier result in very sore shoulders and failed lifts.

Today I was working up to 260 (man, I was going for it). Got to my warm-up set of 225 and the first rep kicked my ass. Disgusted and pissed, I left the BP and went over to the DB’s grabbed the 80’s and did 3 easy, then 90’s for 2 easy…said “what the hell”, picked up the 100’s and knocked out 1 1/2 reps (a very light spot would have gotten me the second rep). I had never even picked up the 100’s before. What’s more, no shoulder pain.

Anyone else feel stronger on DB bench than BB?

Your BB bench numbers are still larger than your DB numbers. If you are only able to get 1-2 reps with 100lb DBs then try using DBells instead of BBells for all of your chest exercises for a few months or until you can use the 100s for 8-12 reps. Use a full range of motion and proper form. I can almost guarantee that when you go back to BBell you will have passed your plateau. It worked for me. Only hurts if you try ; )
[/quote]

I think I’ll try that. I just feel much more “solid” with DB than BB. I don’t know what it is but once I get up to 225 on bench it feels very unsturdy and unnatural. I’ll work up some reps on the 100’s then maybe go back and see if my bb bench improves.

[quote]PGJ wrote:
Well, the DB’s do feel better to my shoulder. I see lots of guys (my size and smaller) in the gym benching 225. I have never seen anyone in my gym pick up the 100’s and bench. Believe me, I’m not trying to brag, but DB’s feel more natural than the bar. I seem to be comapratively stronger on db’s than bb’s on bench press compared to others. I’m just wondering if I should just quit bb bench all together and stick with DB’s (no swiss balls, of course). [/quote]

Benching with DB’s take the stress off of your shoulders. In my beginning years, I actually had to switch to DB’s because of some shoulder pain.

I would do some type of rotator cuff work to help with any shoulder pain, as well it will help increase your max bench.

Furthermore, you haven’t posted your routine. Apparently what ever you are doing you have reached a plateau, so it is time to mix it up. Try pre-fatiguing (Ian King ? 12 Weeks to Super Strength), Charles Poliquin?s 1-6-1 principle, or maybe some GVT, OVT, but something different then what you are doing now.

[quote]DominicanDL wrote:
If it doesn’t work for you stick to dumbells and dips. Just stay out of bench pressing meets and you’ll look and be fine.[/quote]

No plans on competing.

[quote]PGJ wrote:
Dedicated wrote:
PGJ wrote:
I think I’ve given up on BB bench press. Can’t do it, never have been. My max bench is 255. Been working on it, and all attempt to go heavier result in very sore shoulders and failed lifts.

Today I was working up to 260 (man, I was going for it). Got to my warm-up set of 225 and the first rep kicked my ass. Disgusted and pissed, I left the BP and went over to the DB’s grabbed the 80’s and did 3 easy, then 90’s for 2 easy…said “what the hell”, picked up the 100’s and knocked out 1 1/2 reps (a very light spot would have gotten me the second rep). I had never even picked up the 100’s before. What’s more, no shoulder pain.

Anyone else feel stronger on DB bench than BB?

I think you are demoralized with your poor bench progress and trying to rationalize using dumbbells to feel good. Eighty pound dumbbells are still pretty light.

You can progess on your bar bench with an experienced person to coach your weak points and work you through them and to spot you. If you are trying to increase your bar bench and are alone you aren’t going to make much good progress in getting really heavy on it.

Having a good lifting partner/coach in this area will bring far more results then randomly asking someone to spot you on 225 occasionally.

D

Well, the DB’s do feel better to my shoulder. I see lots of guys (my size and smaller) in the gym benching 225. I have never seen anyone in my gym pick up the 100’s and bench. Believe me, I’m not trying to brag, but DB’s feel more natural than the bar. I seem to be comapratively stronger on db’s than bb’s on bench press compared to others. I’m just wondering if I should just quit bb bench all together and stick with DB’s (no swiss balls, of course).

[/quote]

I don’t agree with that, but I guess everyone is different. I can stay away from Dbells for long periods of time, but if my bar stays strong I can grab a heavy pair of dumbbells and still hit em heavy.

For example I have been focusing primarily on bar bench for several months getting it up to 315 for a couple reps with literally no chest Dbell work. One day at a different gym then the one I usually lift at that has heavier Dbells I grabbed the 115’s and hit three sets of eight which was a rep PR for Dbells.

However, if I was to focus on Dbells only for a similar time frame my bar bench would definitely suffer and go down. You get much more torque from the two hand hold then you can generate with one hand and will always be stronger and if you neglect the bar you won’t be as strong and bar numbers will drop.

I get the gist that you lift alone and I think with a good partner your progress would pick up. It’s best to do both.

D

[quote]pkradgreek wrote:
do you train with a spotter in the barbell. you should always when attempting high intensity lifts whether it is heavy weight or speed reps where fatigue might sight in unexpectedly. if you do not have a proper spotter you will be afraid unconsciously to push your body.

another thing to remember is the hand positioning and motion of the body. The dumbells allow you to shift force production individually in each arm. the barbell is a diffirent story considering you are pushing on a fixed bar. as with any lift i think it takes time to learn it properly. Also think about all the variations when it comes to barbell benches in regards to hand spacing and where the bar starts and the path that it takes in regards to how the arms are positioned. You know how they say there is a difference between a bodybuilding and powerlifting bench press. laters pk[/quote]

Thanks. I do not have a spotter, however I only bench in a squat rack. I adjust the cross beams so that the bar comes down to about 2 inches off my chest. I learned that the hard way after dropping 250 on my chest a few years ago. The damn bar just popped out of my hand.

[quote]Dedicated wrote:
You get much more torque from the two hand hold then you can generate with one hand and will always be stronger and if you neglect the bar you won’t be as strong and bar numbers will drop.[/quote]

Torque? Bench Press? Am I missing something?

I much prefer DBs.

out of curiousity do you bench BB with elbows in or out?

I also found DB’s got me out of a plataeu, but i find it particularly difficult to bench with dumbells with elbows in for some reason.

this is just a wild idea, but mabye the reason its easier for you to dumbell bench is because your benching 55 less pounds…? i think that has something to do with it, i bet if you tried 125 pound dumbells in each hand you would fail too just like on the barbell

[quote]john-lennon wrote:
this is just a wild idea, but mabye the reason its easier for you to dumbell bench is because your benching 55 less pounds…? i think that has something to do with it, i bet if you tried 125 pound dumbells in each hand you would fail too just like on the barbell[/quote]

It’s much more difficult to DB press than BB due to the extra stabilisation needed. If you can match your BB press with DBs, then you are seriously short changing your efforts with the barbell.

[quote]john-lennon wrote:
this is just a wild idea, but mabye the reason its easier for you to dumbell bench is because your benching 55 less pounds…? i think that has something to do with it, i bet if you tried 125 pound dumbells in each hand you would fail too just like on the barbell[/quote]

Gees, come on. Do you even lift weights?