Chest Press with Dumbbells: Tips, Technique, and Benefits

Chest presses with dumbbells are different from barbell chest presses in many ways (Image via Pexels/Alesia Kozik)
Chest presses with dumbbells are different from barbell chest presses in many ways (Image via Pexels/Alesia Kozik)

Chest presses are a popular exercise to build the chest, triceps, and shoulders. If your goal is to better your push-up game, chest presses are what you need to be doing.

Unlike barbell chest presses, dumbbell chest presses allow you to recognize which side is weaker and work on it. Additionally, you can even increase your range of motion for push-ups as the dumbbells allow you to lower your arms deeper than you can with the barbell press.

It is always better to start dumbbell chest presses with light weights and get the hang of using equal force to push the loads before moving onto heavier weights. This way, you’ll be able to build on push strength and develop your upper body muscles.

How to do the dumbbell chest press

Although similar to the barbell bench press, the dumbbell press allows you to lower the weights down deeper.

Here's how you can do a proper barbell bench press:

  • Grab a moderately light pair of dumbbells and position yourself on a flat bench.
  • Seat yourself on the bench and lay back on it. Bring the dumbbells up above you with your arms held straight out. Hold your wrists at a neutral angle.
  • Lower the dumbbells down slowly till they are on either side of your chest, along the nipple line. Inhale as you bring them down towards your sides.
  • Exhale and push the dumbbells up away from you, raising them up to the starting position with your arms straight.
  • Repeat this move for 10 to 12 reps.

You can watch this video for reference:


It looks a lot like a bench press, doesn’t it? If you’re trying this out for the first time, you may want to be careful and start slow.

Tips and tricks to master the dumbbell chest press

Here are some pointers for you to perform this exercise flawlessly:

1) Maintain good posture

Just as you would with a barbell bench press, it helps keep your lower back arched, and your shoulders retracted while performing the dumbbell chest press.

Sticking your chest out ensures there is optimal tension on the pectoral muscles, strengthening and developing them.

2) Always start with light weights

It is better to start with light weights (Image via Pexels/Mister Mister)
It is better to start with light weights (Image via Pexels/Mister Mister)

Pushing heavy can be risky as there is a chance of injuring yourself. It is advisable to start with a light weight and gradually increase it as you perform the exercise more often.

3) Increase the depth of your movement

This variation allows for deeper reach during the shortening (concentric) action of this exercise, i.e., while lowering the dumbbells. So trying to bring the weights deeper is a great way to build on your push strength and develop the pectoral muscles. This will also help you go deeper in your push-ups.


How is the dumbbell chest press beneficial? Won’t the same results be achieved with the barbell variation? Well, not exactly.

Here are some benefits of performing chest presses with dumbbells:

1) Sculpts the sides of the chest

Dumbbell chest presses are a great way to add definition and build mass in and around the chest. You’ll finally have that strong bridge between your pectorals and shoulder muscles.

2) Increases push strength

Having a strong chest means having more strength to push weights. Increase the weights as you progress through this exercise to be able to push heavier loads increasingly.

3) Increases the range of motion of the shoulders and chest

The dumbbells allow for pushing the weight from a greater depth than you would be able to with the barbell. This is because there is no bar in your way that obstructs the movement.

4) Improves posture

A strong chest also provides some support to the upper body and strengthens it, helping with straightening out your posture and keeping aches away.

Add a few sets of the dumbbell chest press to your next push day and keep building even as you notice your push-ups getting deeper.

As with any workout routine, post-workout recovery and nutrition are important. So take care of yourself, and keep pushing!

Poll : Would you try this variation of chest presses?

Only barbell for me.


63 votes

Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh