When it comes to working your chest the dumbbell and barbell bench press are at the core of almost every chest routine. Since they are both essential to building a great/full chest which one is actually better and if you just had to choose one to do which one should it be ? Well when it comes to the technique they are both very similar because they both engage the front delts. The biggest difference is that the barbell press engages both your chest and triceps primarily whilst the dumbbell press focuses only on the chest primarily.
The Barbell Bench Press
How To Do It
Lay down flat on a bench. Pinch your shoulder blades together, this will take tension of your shoulder blade and rotator cuffs. Ensure your elbows are closer to your ribs to put more emphasis on your triceps. The further away they are from your ribs the more emphasis it will have on the anterior (front) delt and you want to prevent this or else you risk your shoulders from getting injured. This hits the pec major, front delt and triceps.
This hits 3 major muscle groups so barbell wins this one.
Range Of Motion
Your range of motion is fairly limited in the barbell bench press. This is because you’re holding a bar that is locked in that one position, meaning that your arms can only travel so far in each direction which restricts your range of motion.
Barbell loses this one.
Depending on which side of your body (left or right) is more dominant and stronger that side will take over most of the resistance when it comes to doing the barbell bench press. Especially near the end of the set wear it counts the most. This will result in your dominant side being larger and more developed than your weaker side.
Barbell clearly loses this one.
The Dumbbell Bench Press
How To Do It
Grab a pair of dumbbells before you lie down flat onto the bench press. Retract your shoulder blades (scapula), stick your chest out and bring the dumbbells down over the lower part of your chest (your nipple line) so when you push up it fully activates the pec major while also hitting your front delt.
This only hits 2 major muscle groups so dumbbell loses this one.
Range Of Motion
When using the dumbbells you have a much fuller range of motion because your hands and arms can move freely. This will allow your chest to be worked harder therefore you make more chest gains.
Dumbbells clearly win this one.
Completely different to the barbell bench press, when doing the dumbbell press you will work both sides equally because your stronger side is not there to help out when you lack the strength to push through those last reps.
This will prevent muscular imbalances so dumbbells win this one again.
So Who Wins ?
The clear winner here is the dumbbell bench press so if you had to choose one to do it would have to be it. Although, the barbell bench press is still a great exercise and should not be slept on. It is best for you to incorporate both dumbbells and barbells into your routine so then you can benefit from all the pros each one offers. If you have anymore questions about the dumbbell or barbell bench press leave a comment below.