If you’re struggling to increase your bench press, you’re probably looking for the best exercises and tips helping you do so.
You’ve probably considered the dumbbell bench press as it’s the exact same movement, just with dumbbells used rather than a barbell.
Does Dumbbell Press Increase Bench Press?
Yes, any chest movement is going helping build the chest muscles, which results in a stronger bench press. The dumbbell press uses the same primary and stabilizer muscles that are utilized in the barbell version. While the dumbbell press is a great place to start, also consider increasing your bench by mastering your form, doing more volume, and using progressive overload. Proper recovery and nutrition are also key factors.
They’re Both Working The Same Muscles
The chest is obviously the main muscle group used in both the dumbbell press and the bench press. The triceps and front delts are also a main component of both lifts.
By doing the dumbbell press, you will be strengthening and working your chest. Breaking down the chest muscles will allow them to grow and be more of an aid when you go to bench.
The dumbbell press is a great way to strengthen the stabilizer muscles used in both lifts. The stabilizer muscles are the muscles that maintain the optimal position of a joint and prevent joint pain.
They are the secondary muscles that help out in the lift. Strengthening them will help you add power to the lift.
The scapula and forearm muscles are stabilizer muscles present in the dumbbell press and barbell bench press.
By doing the dumbbell press you can ensure that you are strengthening these muscles to assist you in the bench press.
The triceps are also an important muscle group in both variations of the bench press. They support extension of the elbow and shoulder, while also supported shoulder abduction. It’s also the triceps job to stabilize the weight and provide support during the movement.
Consider adding in more tricep training helping increase your dumbbell press and bench.
Dumbbell Press Form & Safety
Let’s go over form and the safest way to set up the dumbbell bench press so that you can use the heaviest weights possible while properly working your muscles without injuring yourself.
The most dangerous part about the dumbbell press is getting the weights from your knees into the air when you fling your self back onto the flat bench.
Get one dumbbell on each knee with a hand gripping each. You should be sitting on the edge of the bench. Take a deep breath and brace your core and then lean forward slightly before shifting your weight backwards as your knees come towards your chest.
Push your toes into the air to drive your knees up, keeping the dumbbells very close to your chest as your back falls onto the bench. Right before your back touches the bench, press your arms straight up and the dumbbells will be at the top of the movement.
If done in a swift movement you should have got the dumbbells up with minimal effort. This leaves you with enough energy to complete a high number of reps without being already strained just from getting the dumbbells into place.
Consider practicing this with lighter weights until you get the hang of it, before using heavier weight.
Before beginning your rep, keep the dumbbells straight in front of you in the air, and slightly push your shoulders back and down towards your butt. This will retract your scapula which should always be done when performing chest exercises.
It takes your front delts out of the movement, preventing injury and making sure that your chest is doing most of the work.
You want the dumbbells to be directly over your chest, rather than your shoulders to prevent shoulder injury.
When you have done as much reps as you can, simply turn the dumbbells and bring your knees back up to your chest. Place them on your knees and rock your body forward so that you are seated on the bench with the weights on your knees, just like how you started the movement.
To increase chest activation, think of pushing through your elbows and trying to touch your elbows at the top of the movement. Make sure that your elbow do not flare out to your sides, they should be slightly tucked in.
Keep your feet planted firmly against the floor so that you can use leg drive helping press the dumbbells up.
Dumbbells Prevent Muscular Imbalances
A great added benefit of the dumbbell press is that it allows each chest muscle do the same amount of work. Often, in the bench press your stronger side can take over the movement without you realizing.
This can cause one side of your body to be stronger than the other. That’s why it’s a great idea to also do exercises where each side has to pull their own weight.
Having both sides of the chest equally strong will help a great deal with increasing your bench press.
It’s important to note that most muscular imbalances are cause by a lack of form or technique. This is another reason why it’s important to have your form nailed down for all exercises that you do.
Also, if you have tight muscles or restricted mobility, it may be causing imbalances. The best way to counter this is to make sure you are stretching and warming up properly prior to your workout.
Always do a thorough stretch of the chest and shoulder muscles before chest training. Getting some blood in the lats is also a good idea as it will help you have a sturdier base to press off of.
Best Way To Increase Bench
The dumbbell press is a great way to increase your chest strength as you can use a longer range of motion and ensure that both sides of the chest are being strengthened.
While doing the dumbbell press variation will help you increase your bench press, here are some other tips for shooting those bench numbers up.
Before grabbing the bar, pull your scapula back and down into the bench. This will protect your shoulders from bearing the load and place more emphasis on the chest.
It will also slightly arch your back, shortening your range of motion and allowing for greater strength output. Thus breaking down more muscles fibers and creating more chest growth.
The bar should touch your lower chest area and then your bar path should be up and back towards the rack. This allows you to incorporate your legs in the movement a lot more, allowing you to move more weight.
The best way to get better at an exercise is to do it more frequently. If you are benching once a week, consider upping it to twice a week. Or simply add in more sets. Do 8 sets of bench rather than your regular 4.
More volume will increase strength.
Make sure that you are incorporating progressive overload. That is, increasing weight, reps, or sets every workout. Also, increasing intensity. If you have been doing 10 reps of 185lbs for a month straight without trying to up the weight or reps, you’re not going to see improvements.
Recovery And Nutrition
Whenever trying to increase a lift, your nutrition and recovery must be taken into account. It’s tough to get stronger if you aren’t fueling your muscles properly.
Keeping your muscles hydrated will allow them to perform at their maximum potential so make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
If you are eating in a slight calorie surplus, you can ensure that you will be gaining muscle and it makes it a lot easier to progressively overload with your lifts.
Adequate protein will build your muscles and also rebuild them after a tough workout. Rating enough carbs ensure that you have plenty of energy to get through a tough bench session.
Don’t forget to rest! Your muscles need rest to regrow bigger and stronger. You should wait 48 hours before training a muscle group again to make sure that it is fully recovered and ready to be trained again.
Studies show that those who sleep 7-9 hours have increased testosterone which will allow you to grow stronger, increasing your bench numbers. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep.
Let me know if you learned anything that you will be implementing in your own training. Feel free to leave any questions or comments and I’ll make sure to get back to you!