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Pros and Cons of Dumbbell Press vs Bench Press

Bench press is a type of exercise that aims at strengthening the muscles of the upper body. It is an age-old method used by body builders to buff up the upper body. The classic bench press is done by lying flat on a bench with a barbell at eye level. The exercise is done by first bringing the barbell closer to the chest and then lifting it up before bringing it back to neutral position. Based on the experience and need, the weights on the barbell can be adjusted and also way of doing the exercise can be modified.

Dumbbell Press is a modified version of the classic bench press. It is a much newer form of exercise as compared with bench press. As the name suggests, dumbbell press is done by using two dumbbells instead of a barbell as in a bench press. They aim at strengthening specific isolated group of muscles in the upper body rather than the entire upper body. As compared with bench press dumbbell press is much easier to perform and requires less experience.

Pros and Cons of Dumbbell Press vs Bench Press

The pros and cons of dumbbell press include:(1)

  1. Dumbbell press offers options of fewer weights as compared with bench press. This makes it easier to perform for beginners.
  2. The use of two pairs of dumbbells requires more stability and thus helps in strengthening the stabilizer muscles which is not possible in bench press.
  3. The use of spotter can be avoided. Dumbbells can be just dropped off at the sides without the fear of being caught under the bar. Bench press is often difficult to perform without a spotter especially for inexperienced or beginners.
  4. One of the biggest advantages of using dumbbells is that the dumbbells are moved independently. This allows the grip to vary from 90 degrees at shoulder to 45 degrees all the way to neutral (where the knuckles face each other). This flexibility in angulation helps is avoiding injury to a target muscle such as the shoulder.(2, 3)
  5. Dumbbell press have fewer chances of joint injury. They help in developing independent motor control with resistance. They also help in bringing about a more conscious, active and concentrated control.

The pros and cons of bench press include:

  1. In bench press, there are options to utilize heavier weights as compared with dumbbell press.
  2. As the level of barbell is fixed in bench press, the performance requires less stability while lifting the bar. This helps the muscles of the chest, shoulder and triceps to exert more force which is the base of pure strength gain.

Which Is Better Dumbbell Press Or Bench Press?

Bench press is a time-tested technique used for strengthening the chest, shoulders and triceps. But the choice between dumbbell and bench press totally depends on the needs and goals of the individual and expected outcome from the exercise.(4) The difference between the two forms of exercises includes the amount of weight being used to perform the exercise, sharing of weights between the two arms, difference in stability demand and difference in grip. These differences impact the outcome and net result of the exercise and help the individual choose one over the other based on his needs.


Bench press is a type of exercise that is used for making the chest, shoulders and triceps stronger. It is done by using a barbell bar. Dumbbell press is modified version of bench press where a pair of dumbbells is used. Both have its pros and cons and thus it is hard to determine which is a better form of exercise as it depends on the needs and choice of the performer. Bench press provides overall strengthening of the upper body whereas dumbbell press helps is focusing on a particular muscle group. In bench press the muscle exertion is limited to the chests whereas with dumbbells muscles being exerted are controlled and can be extended beyond the chest. Dumbbell press is relatively safer as the chances of muscle injury are lesser. Bench press is recommended for experienced body builders are quite often needs assistance of a spotter. Dumbbells are easier to perform and can be done without a spotter. In bench press you can use more weight whereas in dumbbell press you can adjust the angulation and also the stability demand. Keeping all this mind the choice is made weather to opt for bench press or dumbbell press.


  1. Madsen N, McLaughlin T. Kinematic factors influencing performance and injury risk in the bench press exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1984;16:376–381.
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27669189/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835758/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504579/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 5, 2020

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