The Bench Press is a staple in nearly every athlete’s training arsenal. Here is why the Dumbbell Bench Press is likely a better alternative for athletes than the Barbell Bench Press.
Athletes spend a lot of time in the gym, powering up their muscles to perform better on the field, on the court, and in the pool.
RELATED: 7 Dumbbell Chest Press Variations for a Stronger Chest
The Bench Press is a critical part of just about every athlete’s training protocol. The ability to push and exert strength in front of the body is seen in every sport, from wrestling to swimming.
This movement is also highly functional—it’s the same strength needed to push something open, or to carry something around. The Bench Press, traditionally, is used to help power up the muscles used in these movements, which means that we spend a lot of time performing the traditional barbell Bench Press.
If you are serious about leveling up your performance, want to blast your core and increase your overall chest and shoulder strength, you need to incorporate the Dumbbell Bench Press into your workout routine.
RELATED: 5 Dumbbell Exercises to Build Your Chest and Upgrade Your Bench
Here are 5 reasons why.
1. Unilateral dumbbell bench pressing closely simulates real-world athletic performance.
Most sport actions are performed unilaterally—swimmers pull one stroke at a time, ball players push off with one hand, and so on. When the Bench Press is performed bilaterally in a seated position, the core has been shown to be less engaged than it is when you are standing. Moving from the Barbell Bench to the Dumbbell Bench will help recruit your trunk and stabilizer muscles, while also helping you bridge the gap between the movement in the gym and the action you want to achieve on the playing field.
2. You can increase your range of motion.
To improve your Bench Press and performance, range of motion is critical. One limiting factor of the traditional Barbell Bench Press is a restricted range of motion, depending on the shoulder width of the athlete. Researchers found that when participants used dumbbells instead of a barbell, they achieved a greater range of motion during the bench pressing movement. Which, if you are wanting to train the full of range of motion of the movement, is helpful to know.
3. You don’t necessarily need a spotter.
Going heavy on the Barbell Bench requires a spotter. There’s no getting around it. Unless you leave the weights unlocked on the bar and plan to slide them off in a frenzied panic when you approach failure, you require a partner when you go toward your one rep max. A dumbbell, however, can be easily dropped the moment your arms and chest begin to fail you. For athletes who train largely on their own, or who don’t want to bother their fellow gym-goers for the occasional spot, reaching for the dumbbells means you can go heavy without dropping the bar on your chest and crushing your sternum.
4. The One-Arm Dumbbell Bench will blast your core.
The counteracting that your core needs to perform when you do the One-Arm Dumbbell Bench is no joke. When you do the movement unilaterally—with only one dumbbell—the weight and movement force your core to counteract. Having the other dumbbell in the air recruits your core muscles to work overtime to keep you from rolling off the bench. Sure, your sets might take a little longer, but the core work and specificity will be worth it.
5. You can isolate and identify weak spots in your lift.
Ever watch a lifter in the gym who pushes the bar skyward with all his might, one side of the bar going skyward faster than the other? You’ve probably experienced this as well, whether when doing Jump Squats, Bench Press or Pull-Ups. Your dominant side makes up for your weaker side. Isolating the weight on each arm forces you to confront muscle imbalances in your chest and shoulders. The Dumbbell Bench Press can help you identify and isolate unilateral deficiencies and imbalances in your upper body.
RELATED: Build a Stronger Chest With the Dumbbell Floor Press