How to Do a Dumbbell Bench Press

chest press

The dumbbell bench press has been implemented into almost every workout routine on the planet. Dumbbells are used instead of a bar to work on independently training each side of the body. Dumbbells require more skill and motor control. We broke it into 2 phases, concentric and eccentric.

Muscle Emphasis

The primary muscle used to create the movement for the dumbbell press are: Pectoralis major, all Triceps and Anterior Deltoid. The secondary muscles used are Pectoralis minor, Latissimis Dorsi, Coracobrachialis and Serratus Anterior.

Starting Position

Lying on a flat bench with your feet on the floor, have a spotter hand you each dumbbell individually. Hold the dumbbells with hands slightly wider than shoulder-widt apart.  Position your elbows to be slightly less than 90 degrees relative to the body. If you do not have a spotter then sit at the end of the bench with the dumbbells on your knees, as you lay back bring the dumbbells with you by raising each knee.


Bench Press Movement

Eccentric:  Lower the weights down towards the chest to about one inch before touching the chest. Do this in a controlled 2-3 second tempo.

Phase2 Concentric: Push the bar back to the starting position in an explosive fashion. Do not completely lock the elbow just extend it so it is almost locked.

Tips for proper form

  • Keep a neutral spine, brace abdominal, glutes, and lower body.
  • Keep the elbows just below 90 degrees and make sure the wrist and elbows line up.
  • Push through the palms of the hand.
  • Keep the feet planted on the floor.   

Common Mistakes

  • Shrugging the shoulders.
  • Keep your body on the bench, do not let your butt come up off the bench.
  • Do not take a grip much wider than shoulder width, it will put stress on the shoulder. 
  • Bring the bar to roughly where your nipples are. Below the nipples is too low and going near the collar bone is too high.
  • Do not let your ego dictate the weight you use because your form will suffer.

The bench press has value when applied correctly.  It is important for a heavy bencher to work on shoulder mobility and strengthening the rotator cuff muscles. Clients with any shoulder or neck issues should avoid the bench press.

Kevin Chen

Kevin Chen is a Certified Personal Trainer through NFPT. He attended Tuckahoe High School where he was the captain of the 2010 State Championship Football Team. After graduating, he went on to attend the University of Hartford where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science. Kevin spent his summers during college as a volunteer offensive and defensive line coach with the Tuckahoe High School football team. He has attended multiple collegiate football camps and seminars learning from collegiate coaches and trainers from across the country including: Princeton, Lafayette, Stony Brook, Delaware, and Utica.

Kevin’s main focus is to implement strength and resistance training in addition to mobility exercises to improve athletic performance and overall health. Kevin stresses training and strengthening joints at the end range of motion in order to improve power, speed, and mobility.  He is also currently training to improve his Olympic lifts as well as researching different techniques used by different Olympic coaches and athletes that will have the best carryover to athletic performance.


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