dumbbell press-2

How to Dumbbells Press the Right Way



You could describe this exercise as ‘lower the dumbbells as deep as you comfortably can on every single repetition and push them up and through on every single repetition. Without flaring your shoulders too much, since you need stability all through your full range of motion.’ 

This sentence introduces you to what it is, but it is far from explaining the how-to.

Which muscles does it target

Primarily the dumbbell press helps you develop a bigger chest. Since you have a wider range of motion, you can focus more on the eccentric and it hit your chest to the fullest. 

The chest has 3 parts: the upper, middle, and lower chest. 

The flat bench variant targets more the middle part. 

The incline press hits the upper part more.and the incline variant the lower part. This text deals with the flat bench and the middle part of the chest.

To a lesser extent, you also work your triceps, since they are essential to your stability during your movement. 

The shoulders also play an active role to maintain your stability during the press. 

Dumbbell or Barbell

With a dumbbell, you have a more comprehensive range of motion, which helps you strengthen other muscles around the chest simultaneously, mostly the shoulders and the triceps.

There are 4 main differences between using a barbell or a dumbbell. 
  • Range of motion: A barbell has a limited range of motion. At the lowest point, it is physically blocked by the chest and can’t go any further.The dumbbell press optimizes a full stretch in your lowest position and offers a fuller flex in your top part.
  • Safet is the most obvious one: once you go heavy on a barbell press, you need a spotter to help you. With a dumbbell, you do not need a spotter. Once you have reached total failure, you can drop the dumbbells onto the floor.
  • Dumbbells allow you to work each side independently. With a barbell press, your stronger side will always press a little more complicated than your weaker side and therefore develop a little more. With a dumbbell press, you can work out unilaterally, starting with your more vulnerable side and even out the number of reps on each side, so both sides develop in unison.  
  • Elbows: in the gym, you will see many people do a dumbbell press with their elbows fully flared and aligned with their shoulders. This action is wrong and hazardous. This lousy form has a higher risk of injuring your shoulders once you start hitting a higher weight. Also, it limits your gains because it does not allow you to reach your maximum weight potential for maximum hypertrophy. 


Before you start any workout, you should warm up. The best way is a dynamic warm-up.

For this exercise, which can heavily target the chest and shoulders, I advise focusing on that area. A good practice is, for example, the face pull, with lightweight dumbbells, with bands, or you could even use a doorframe. 

Also, do a few warm-up sets, build up from light to medium weight to your work weight.  

How to

  1. Sit on the edge of your bench, holding the dumbbells firmly tight while they rest on your knees.
  2. You slowly lean back while you place the dumbbells in the bottom position. Make sure your elbows are underneath your wrists.
  3. Position your shoulders. Keep the back and low. Slightly arch your lower back until you have maximum stability. 
  4. Position your feet on the side of the bench. Then, plant your feet on the floor so they can help you with that extra drive during the push phase. 
  5. Tighten your glutes and brace your core.
  6. Slowly lower both dumbbells simultaneously. Make sure you control every part of the eccentric movement. Think of it as if you are pulling the dumbbells towards you while trying to press your body deeper into the bench. 
  7. Mind the flare of your elbows; try to keep that 45°-75° angle.
  8. Go as low as feels comfortable for you. 
  9. Press the dumbbells back up slowly. Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  10. In the top position, go for that squeeze as you bring the dumbbells closer to each other. Make sure your elbow is straight underneath your wrist. 
  11. Repeat for the desired amount of reps optimally until you are 1 or 2 reps shy of failure.

I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses. – Kobe Bryant

Large or small arch

  • As a beginner, I advise a smaller arch of your lower back. Once you master the form and technique, you can start considering a large angle. It all depends on your goals.
  • A power lifter will try to have a big arch to engage other parts like the lats to push heavier weights. On the downside, it creates a higher chance of injuries.
  • A bodybuilder will have a smaller arch, focussing more on the chest and chasing a fuller chest pump. This way is also safest, especially if you are a beginner or even intermediate.

Which rep range

This rep range depends on your goals. 

Put, if you want to get strong, you should focus on a high weight in a lower rep range of 5 to 8, with longer breaks up to 3-4 minutes between each set. If you want to maximize your size and your aim is hypertrophy, work in a medium rep range of 8 to 12 and take slightly shorter breaks up to 2 minutes between each set. If your aim is endurance, then go for a higher rep range with shorter breaks in between sets: 20+ reps with 60 to 90-second gaps between each group.

Progressive overload

Train harder than last time. – Greg Doucette  (IFBB Pro bodybuilder and YouTube influencer)

If you want to get bigger and stronger, you need to gradually overload. You can overload in different ways: primarily, people mean that you add more weight once you have attained a specific goal (i.e. if you are going for three sets of 6-8 reps and you find you perform every rep in perfect form; you add a little weight).

Another option is to add an extra set, basically doing four groups instead of 3.Another way is to go much slower and increase the intensity of each rep. Or you can alter the frequency of your training in a week.

Common mistakes []

  • Lean back and kick dumbbells in top position: higher risk for injuries, and you waste energy for that pointless half rep. Always safe first and start in the bottom part.

  • Feet up on a bench offers no advantage, and it puts you in a less stable position, especially with heavier dumbbells.

  • Elbows flared: as mentioned above, keep them tucked in slightly at a 45°-75° angle; this optimizes the pull on your chest muscles as well as minimizes the stress on your shoulder joints.

  • Have your hand positionedeither inside or outside of your elbows. Always have your elbows and wrists stacked on top of each other.

  • Pressing the weight in adiagonal forward path: will take tension from the chest and involve more of the front delts. Better press in a more or less straightforward way.

  • Full range of motion: you might notice other people not going for a full range of motion, do not copy them. Always go for a full range of motion for that optimal pectoral stimulation. For maximum hypertrophy, a more extensive range of motion is superior.

  • Uncontrolled eccentric: every inch of the abnormal movement should be controlled by you. You should be able to stop at any given point without losing form or balance. You don’t drop the dumbbells; you pull them down.

Source: Sean Nalewanyj – Stop Doing Dumbbell Presses Like This!


The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The handles are made of steel and have a diamond cut pattern that offers a better grip than most. I've been using these for about a year (only personal use) and they have held up quite well. I can't tell if the construction is a single piece or if the handles are attached, but they are solid.

3-10lbs (1-5kg) is ideal for a blend of building slender muscle and losing fat. Get a 20lb (9kg or 10kg) as well, assuming you need to go somewhat heavier for some leg-based compound developments.

At the point when you're initially getting everything rolling with an amateur dumbbell workout, Moore proposes keeping it basic and picking light hand weights—preferably somewhere in the range of five and 10 pounds. "You need to have the option to gain proficiency with the activity developments accurately and execute appropriate structure, so you don't need the load to be excessively weighty.

Relife Brand

Relife Official Global Fitness Center

[Relife Rebuild Your Life]To provide fitness enthusiasts with the most professional action guidance and the most complete body and fitness information! Gain muscle and reduce fat; fun information; on the way to fitness; you and I will go together!

New How To Build Neck Muscles With Dumbbells Only?
Why Are Dumbbells So Expensive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close My Cart
Close Wishlist
Recently Viewed Close