Do you really know how to dumbbell bench press for a bigger chest? Look, when it comes to building a bigger chest, the dumbbell bench press my be much more valuable than being a fallback “option” to the classic barbell bench press. In this video, I am going to the show you how to fix the 5 most common mistakes people make when performing the dumbbell press and you my just find that it’s the superior exercise choice for you to make your overall best chest gains.

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The first mistake you might be making has to do with your posture. Have you ever noticed what it looks like before you even ready to press the dumbbells? I’m talking about when you’re sitting at the end of the bench with dumbbells on your thighs. Instead of slumping over your dumbbells with your shoulders rounded, sit up tall and pull your shoulders down and back. From here, engage the lats by digging your elbows into your sides.

The easiest way to think about this is to focus on your traps and shoulders. Un-shrug them. Again you should feel your elbows packed tightly against your sides and your chest and lats should already feel engaged. Your posture should be noticeable better regardless of what angle someone looks at you from.

The second mistake is not making sure that your elbows are in there right place. Not getting this right can lead to unnecessary and avoidable shoulder pain whenever you bench press. Instead of making your body a “T”, make yourself a tree. In other words, stop bench pressing with your elbows flared directly out the your sides. Tucking your elbows while keeping your wrists stacked above them at all times will place you in the optimal position to press.

See also  Shoulder Exercise for Bigger Shoulders (SIDE AND REAR DELTS!)

An easy way to make sure that you are getting this right every time you bench press is focus on the dumbbell touch point. Make sure that the inside of the dumbbell touches the outer lower corner of your chest muscle on every rep. Aim for contact right at tis outer portion of the lower chest and the only way you can do this is with a 45-60 degree elbow tuck.

The next mistake you are likely making when performing the dumbbell bench press is allowing the dumbbells to lower without control. While we often focus on the concentric pressing during the lift, not paying attention to the eccentric lowering of the dumbbells is a problem. You should actively be pulling the weight down and engaging your back through the movement. You almost want to “row” the dumbbells to the bottom as opposed to just letting gravity take over. Doing so will ensure that the shoulder blades stay engaged and that the chest doesn’t collapse or disengage in favor of the shoulder muscles at the bottom of the rep.

Speaking of lowering, that brings us to our next mistake; rushing the eccentric. A slow eccentric is perhaps more vital on a dumbbell bench press than it is any other exercise you’ll perform in the gym. This along with the tucked elbows makes the bench press a viable exercise for anyone that stopped due to shoulder pain or discomfort. Remember to slow down the tempo that you use when performing the eccentric portion of this chest exercise. A controlled eccentric will help create stability in the shoulder joint that will likely remove any of the pain and discomfort you were feeling prior.

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Another mistake on the dumbbell bench press is ignoring your feet. Yes, your feet! If you engage your feet and create leg drive while pressing the dumbbells up, you will likely experience a 10-15% increase in the amount of weight you can press. Push down into your tows and think about straightening your legs out in front of you like during a leg extension (just keep your feet on the ground during this movement). This will assist you in generating that up and back force you’re using to drive the dumbbells along their proper bar path back to the top.

The next problem facing the db bench press is allowing your shoulders to dominate the press. Remember, you want to make sure you’re initiating the ascent of the dumbbells with your chest first – think about what your sternum and rib cage are doing. When you press, drive your shoulders back into the bench and reach for the sky with your sternum. Think about lifting your ribs to the ceiling.

Mistake #7 is forgetting to manipulate the dumbbells in space as you press them up. We know that the function of the pectorals major is to horizontally adduct the arms as you press. To simulate this adduction, tilt your thumbs up to the sky to bring the dumbbells closer to the midline of your chest, almost like bringing your biceps together.

A bonus tip for those that don’t have a well developed upper chest or still experiencing shoulder issues – change the angle of the bench. Put the bench at a 15-30 degree angle max to reposition the shoulders just enough to take some excessive strain off the rotator cuff and decrease your risk of injury.


25 thoughts on “Stop Doing DB Bench Press Like This (I’M BEGGING YOU!)”
  1. *VIEWER GIVEAWAY* – I’m giving away my brand new complete 90 Day Beaxst PPL program to 40 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 40, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached! Clicking twice does nothing. Only one entry per video. Remember to watch to the end for more workouts.

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    1. Hey Jeff! Quick question. My hands (palms really) either get sore or hurt after a few reps doing the dumbell bench press. Why is that? Too heavy weight??

    2. My football team can’t be champion for 10 years. My vote can’t change government for 26 years.

    3. @athleanx jeff show some exercises for middle chest line. The upper chest line is non responder.

  2. Hey Jeff you’re my go- to fitness page. Thanks for all the work you do for us

    1. @Anthony Lupia “I used to be a lifter like you, then I tore my rotator cuff.” -Whiterun Guard

  3. Hey Jeff.
    Just wanted to thank you for sharing all that knowledge. Since I started my fitness journey I based my workouts on all the tips given. I was 255 and now 180 after 9 months. I now see muscles I never thought I would ever have. Never enrolled to your workout app but your techniques are embeded in all my workouts. Really appreciate it. Im not stopin until my arms fill my old fatty boy clothes.

  4. The tips from your videos are so helpful for so many of us. Your content is so beneficial. Thanks so much Jeff!

  5. Extremely informative I always love the small details like thumbs up and flexing your lats that make such a huge difference

  6. Convinced coach has a camera following me. Was in the gym yesterday with my step sons and we reviewed everything in this video – except the feet! That’s the first it’s been mentioned and I saw the promised 10%. That sternum/rib tip really helped with mind/muscle connection. Both my sons said their shoulder pain was gone after following coach’s advice. Thanks as always!

  7. I owe this channel a debt of gratitude. I’m 61, gym rat off/on since 15…my chest always lacked every other body part relatively speaking in terms of size and strength. A couple months ago I learned it was because I would raise/shrug my shoulders (as opposed to keeping them DOWN)….which is actually working the shoulders too much and less the pecs. Now, my chest workouts are leaving me very sore with less effort….and in truth, at 61, my pecs are growing!!! Force your shoulders DOWN when you bench or press or doing flys.

  8. Always so helpful with all of your videos. I love your programs and your training technique. I am a disabled veteran that depends on your programs and tutorials to always help me. Thank you so much Jeff

  9. After going as wide as possible on the bench press both barbell and dumbbells when I was a youngin, and not realizing when I was pressing 375 for reps, and failed to hit my goal of 405 bc of pain. Pain makes sense bc it was basically my front delts pushing the weight. Thankfully overhead pressing was never a problem. Until recently, as in a month ago, it’s been a solid 10years since I’ve done any chest pressing, due to pain. For the past month I have actually been dumbbell chest pressing like this, pain free. Now thanks to your amazing demonstrations what I was doing actually makes sense. Still getting the muscle memory part down and sticking to lighter weights. Hard to break bad habits! Thanks for the video!! Last question do you think a closer grip on barbell bench press to where my thumbs would touch that outside corner of my chest and elbows tucked is a good idea? I’m only 33 so I would like to hit that old goal of mine. Plus having all girls and being a girl dad it would be a nice flex on some young bucks!

  10. This is a great video breakdown. Most of my clients have trouble doing so many cues at one time. If you all have similar Issues, just do a few of the cues until you master those. Then incorporate more, in future workouts. Thanks for the quality content Jeff!

  11. Been watching Jeff’s vids for years and STILL getting SO much value from them! Crazy!

  12. Everyone should buy a program off of you just because of the amount of good advice you give. Truly someone that is not selfish and cares about improving others. You’ve left your mark in the fitness community.

  13. Quality content as always, Jeff. Having lifted for years, it becomes easier to get complacent and have form start to slip as weight increases. These videos always remind me of the importance of the quality of each rep, rather than just the number on the DB. There’s value in this for ANYONE, whether your first time benching or your 15th year of benching.

  14. Hey JC & Jess , great camera work and POV coverage on this vid – more of this PLEASE ! Awesome way to cover and explain the craft !!!!

  15. Thank you for the great content. Dumbell bench has helped me a lot in recovering from SLAP lesion. Tempo on the way down and up. Also at the bottom most portion, right before the push, focused on gradual push / start as opposed to the bounce reaction between down and push (avoid bounce). Also guys, if it hurts leave it and check with an expert to advise your path to recovery.

  16. Yes! Thank you, Jeff! The older I get the more important the efficiency in my workouts needs to be, and I am grateful you are here to help us.

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