Dumbbell Push Press: How-To, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Learn how to perform the Dumbbell Push Press, avoid common mistakes and increase your explosive power.

The Dumbbell Push Press is a variation of the traditional Barbell Push Press that develops lower-body power, shoulder strength and shoulder size. Read our guide to the Push Press for an in-depth breakdown of the exercise.

Using dumbbells for the Push Press has three distinct benefits compared to its barbell cousin:

It puts less stress on your shoulders. Dumbbells allow you to use a neutral grip (your palms facing inward toward each other), which reduces the amount of stress placed on your shoulders.

It builds single-arm strength. Like other dumbbell exercises, this variation helps to eliminate strength imbalances between your left and right sides.

It's easier to perform. The barbell Push Press isn't necessarily difficult to do, but you do have to be careful of hitting yourself on the chin when the bar moves overhead. Using dumbbells eliminates this concern.

Dumbbell Push Press Form

Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold dumbbells at your shoulders with your palms facing together and your forearms vertical directly under the dumbbells.

Dumbbell Push Press

Step 2: Keeping your core tight, dip down slightly by bending your hips and knees. Immediately extend your hips, knees and ankles, and drive the dumbbells overhead. Push the dumbbells with your arms until your elbows are straight. Briefly hold the dumbbells overhead.

Dumbbell Push Press

Step 3: Lower the dumbbells in control to the starting position.

Common Mistakes

Mistake 1: Grinding out slow reps

This is not an Overhead Press. If you're grinding out slow reps, then you're either forgetting to use your lower body to create momentum or you're using a weight that's too heavy.

Mistake 2: Holding the dumbbells too far in front

The side of the dumbbells closest to you should rest on your shoulders. Otherwise, your arms will have to fully support the dumbbells, which limits how much weight you'll be able to use.

Mistake 3: Arching your lower back

One of the most common mistakes with any overhead exercise is arching your lower back if you don't have sufficient shoulder mobility. Focus on keeping your core tight and ribs down as the dumbbells move overhead. If you find this isn't possible, take some extra time to improve your shoulder mobility before attempting this exercise.