Dumbbell Chest Press

The dumbbell chest press is one of my favorite chest exercises.  This exercise allows you to go heavy without the risk of a bar coming down on your chest, and allows for your arms to move freely, being unrestricted by a machine or solid bar.  This is the best of both worlds.

Dumbbell Chest Press

Primary Muscles Used

Dumbbell Press Muscles Used

Dumbbell Chest Press Instructions

  • Lie on a bench set to a flat position with a dumbbell in each hand. You may have your feet up on the bench or on the floor, whichever is comfortable for bench height and your body and leg length.
  1. Position the dumbbells at the shoulders with upper arms at about 45 degrees to the body. Keep elbows forward of the shoulder line to avoid stress on the shoulder joint. The palms should face forward and your thumbs should be wrapped around the handle.
  2. Brace the abdominal muscles, tilt the chin slightly toward the chest and ensure you are in a stable and comfortable position.
  3. Push the weights upward while exhaling, taking care not to lock out the elbows in an explosive movement. The weights should follow a shallow arc and almost meet over the top of the chest. It's OK to straighten the arms as long as you don’t do it with sudden or explosive force. The head and shoulder blades should not rise off the bench or floor.
  4. Lower the weights, muscles contracted, while inhaling and controlling the return to the starting position.
Dumbbell Chest Press Demonstration

Tim's list of benefits for the Dumbbell Chest Press

  • The dumbbell chest press exercise targets the main muscle of the chest, the pectorals. It also uses the anterior deltoids of the shoulder and the triceps of the upper arm. Building chest support and definition is desirable for aesthetics.
  • The chest press also helps you with any daily activities that require pushing or carrying. It can help restore muscle balance for athletes that primarily use pulling muscles, such as in rowing, rock climbing, and swimming.
  • The dumbbell chest press allows you to go heavy without the need for a spotter.  If you can not press the weight, you can simply set the dumbbells down.
  • Using dumbbells allows for your arms to move freely, taking pressure off of the elbows and wrists.
  • Using dumbbells requires your stabilizer muscles to be used, pulling in rotator cuff, lower back, and abdominals into the exercise.
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