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dumbell vs barbell bench press?

I’ve been doing dumbell presses for a while now, because I don’t have a partner, and I hate asking random people for a spot, the people in my gym are so clueless I don’t trust any of them. Am I missing out on something by doing dumbell presses? I’m sure if I was using a bar I’d be putting up more weight, but does that matter? What are the pros and cons of doing dumbell presses? Also, whenever I see anyone else doing them, they bring the weights together at the top of the form and clink them together. Is that really the best way to do them? I’ve always just tried to simulate the mostion of a barbell press as closely as possible, but I’ve never really known if that was right or not.


Barbell bench press and dumbell bench press are both good exercises for the chest. I usually do all dumbell exercises for 4 weeks and change up to all barbell exercises for 4 weeks or something to that effect. I don’t think you really need a spotter on barbell though, just don’t go to complete failure. Just stop one rep before complete failure. T-mag writers always recommend not to go to complete failure every week anyway. As for touching the dumbells, that’s what I do and it just feels natural to me. Just do what feels best to you. Hope that helps

Joel Marion made a good point on the Dog Pound a couple weeks about using a spotter from the bench press. You should search for his original post because it had some great info, but regarding a spotter (or more specifically, a lift off) he said that it’s virtually impossible to lift a load from above your face while in a prone position while keeping your scapula retracted. You should always retract your scapula while bench pressing in order to keep the load on your pecs without transferring it to the anterior delts.

Concerning clinking the dumbbells together at the top of the press, I believe that this loads the triceps, and you’re doing the right thing by trying to keep the form of a BB bench press as much as possible with DBs.

And as for your original question, no, I don’t think you’re missing out on anything by only pressing with DBs.

Barbell bench hits the shoulders and triceps more than dumbell. Dumbell bench hits the pecs more.

I always touch them together at the top, I think it’s the natural plane of motion.

Barbell bench is probably a better compound movement for total upper body strength, but dumbell will hit the pecs and “stabilizers” better. So it all depends on your goals. Probably switch between the two once in a while for the best results.

i actually think that doing DB presses are better than BB simply because its so much tougher. when i first started i could only bench 100 lbs. and then i tried doing DB presses w/ 40 lbs on each arm and it was hellish. i like DB presses better because they incorporate more secondary “balancer” muscles into the movement. i also have a theory that if you constantly do DB presses and increase weight as you would w/ BB presses that if you suddenly switched to BB presses that you’d be able to do 10-20 lbs more w/ the BB for your 1RM. like i said, its a theory, and i’m too lazy to prove it.

I agree with Jason re the barbell, I rarely use a spotter, just stop 1 rep short of failure. Re your form, I would carry on the way you are at present, this is the correct way to do them and is tougher than bringing them together which reduces the muscle tension.

You already know you have to do both movements. If you’re db’s are smaller than 100’s then they don’t have to touch. I like the range of motion a little better with the db’s. I can focus a little better on my pecs. While bench pressing I tend to use my whole body. If you’ve read Tate’s articles on bench pressing you’ll know what I mean. Peace.