T Nation

Increasing Max Bench Strength


Is dumbbell benching an effective method to increase max barbell bench strength?


Gaining weight ftw. I have found that increasing my bench increases my DB bench but not so much the other way around for myself. You'll never know until you try.

And if all else fails, gain some weight.


No, it isn't. Like pretty much not at all.


Why would doing something that isn't what you want to improve at help it? If you want to get better at benching, bench.


If that were the case, why doesnt everyone just go and compete every single weekend? You should have a higher total every week, right?


Hammer your back twice as hard as your chest and work on your leg drive.


What kind of weight can you BB bench at the moment? The main reason dumbells don't usually help is the max DB weight at the gym stops at some point so you need BB for more weight, its also not practical for low reps on DBs which is needed for max strength.


How does saying bench to improve your bench get interpreted as compete every weekend?


If used as an assistance excercise its fine


... How could it not? It's the absolute in terms of 'bench to improve your bench'


My current bench is 245, squat 395, and deadlift 465. I have made huge gains on the other lifts, but have been stuck on bench for the last 6 months. I went from weighing 190 to 210 in hopes of eating my way through it, but eating only helped my squat and deadlift.


  1. Form - I assume you've read stuff from Dave Tate about benching. If so, are you going wide enough? Too wide? How's your leg drive? Are you ripping the bar apart? Are you tucking elbows enough? Have you tried using muscle irradiation techniques (look up Pavel Tsatsouline)?
  2. Body-type - Long arms? Pec dominant bencher?
  3. Program - What are you doing for back, tri, and delt work? How do you cycle intensity? How often are you benching? Are you not benching enough which is why squat and dead are growing but not bench?
  4. Diet - (Gaining 30 pounds while squat and deadlift improve, I kinda doubt that this is the issue.)


Idk about dumb bells but I have found that increasing my decline for reps and incline for reps always increases my bench.


I've found zero correlation between improvements in DB and barbell bench. I DB benched exclusively for months making tons of improvement only to go back to bench and have it be completely unchanged. Taken together I think DB's can provide some nice accessory and volume work, but at the end of the day good old specificity of training would say bench to get better at bench.

Probably as others have said, there needs to be a reevaluation of form and programming.


Shit like this is all down to personal experimentation I have found almost no help from DB bench to my BB press yet there are many people who will testify different. I have heard people talking about taking a month or two away for DB press and no BB press and PB when they come back to BB press.

For myself the thing that improved my bench by far the most is rep effort bench press. I'm not a monster by any mean my best press is 185kg (410lbs) so manybe you need more assistance when you get stronger my guess is the assistance I will require when rep effort ceases to help is chemical.


If you're not already doing lots of em, do Military Press. This helps bench alot


^ x2

I've found that my bench and my military press always improve together.


where is your sticking point?

And if you aren't running a set program right now get on some straightforward linear periodization, it's simple, easy to follow and you can usually pick most of the assistance work, try the Coan bench calculator here: http://www.joeskopec.com/edcoanbench.html

That gives you your second pressing day pretty much totally up to you and additional heavy tricep and incline work on your heavy bench day

I would suggest military on your alternate pressing day and whatever your weak point is, but to know what you're weak point or points are post a video or give an explanation on your sticking point if you have a consistent one.

the fact that you gained a bunch of weight and your bench didnt go up at all suggests to me some kind of mental block as well, honestly it's really strange that your bench stayed at 245 when you gained that much weight, good luck man.


Mine has stalled somewhat too so I know what you mean.

I bench every other time, alternating with Overhead Press.

Currently both days were max effort days and I wasnt increasing so I am thinking of stealing parts from Tates bench press cure and swapping out one max effort day for a dynamic day.

Good or bad idea? Not trying to steal thread but just wondered if this could help and in turn help OP.


To answer the original question...no I don not feel that dumbbell presses have had a DIRECT impact to my bench press numbers. Benching with chains or doing reverse band benches HAS had a direct impact on it followed by board presses, usually 2,3,and 4 board.