The dumbbell chest press closely mimics the bench press — the favorite exercise among serious weightlifters everywhere. This exercise works your chest muscles, shoulders, and triceps. If you have shoulder, elbow, or lower-back problems, limit the range of motion. You should lower and lift the dumbbells only a few inches to avoid overstraining these joints.
Performing the dumbbell chest press
Follow these steps to perform this exercise:
- Lie on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor.You can rest your feet up on the bench if it’s more comfortable.
- Push the dumbbells up so that your arms are directly over your shoulders and your palms are up.
- Pull your abdominals in, and tilt your chin toward your chest.
- Lower the dumbbells down and a little to the side until your elbows are slightly below your shoulders.
- Roll your shoulder blades back and down, like you’re pinching them together and accentuating your chest.
- Push the weights back up, taking care not to lock your elbows or allow your shoulder blades to rise off the bench.
For completing the dumbbell chest press
- Let your back keep a natural arch so that you have a slight gap between your lower back and the bench.
- Don’t contort your body in an effort to lift the weight. Lift only as much weight as you can handle while maintaining good form.
- When pressing the dumbbells up, have them form a triangular motion; they don’t need to touch each other.
Gym alternative: Vertical chest-press machine
Use the vertical chest-press machine at your gym as an alternative to using dumbbells for this exercise. Follow these steps to use the vertical chest-press machine:
- Sit so that the center of your chest lines up with the center of the horizontal set of handlebars.
- Press down on the foot bar (if your particular machine’s design has one) so that the handles move forward.
- Grip the horizontal handles and push them forward, straightening your arms.
- Lift your feet from the foot bar so that the weight of the stack transfers into your hands.
- Slowly bend your arms until your elbows are slightly behind your chest, and then push the handles forward until your arms are straight.
- After you complete the set, put your feet back on the foot bar and let go of the handles before you lower the weight stack all the way down.