Barbell Vs Dumbbell Bench Press – What Should You Be Doing?


If you’re looking to build a big and strong chest then you’ll obviously need to ensure that your training routine incorporates plenty of effective mass building exercises for the chest. As far as exercises for the chest are concerned most of you will probably agree that you’d be hard pressed (pardon the pun) to find a more effective exercise than the bench press.

Whether you perform flat, incline, or decline bench presses the simple fact of the matter is that they are all fantastic exercises when it comes to working the chest. However, there is one question you can ask which has been the subject of many a heated debate in the fitness community for decades upon decades and that question is “which is better, barbell or dumbbell bench press”?

Here we’ll be taking a look at the pros and cons of barbell and dumbbell bench presses in a bid to discover which, if any, is better.

Barbell bench press

When people think of bench presses many people first think of flat bench barbell bench presses as those are what you are most likely to see depicted in the media.

Barbell bench presses can be performed either flat, incline, or decline and as you’ve probably gathered, involve the use of a barbell. Some of the advantages associated with the barbell bench press include the fact that you can lift more weight than when using dumbbells, and the bar will stay in a fixed position during the lift.

Disadvantages include the fact that rotator cuff injuries are far more common with barbell bench presses, and you will need a spotter if you plan on going heavy.

Dumbbell bench press

Dumbbell bench presses are exactly the same as the barbell bench press except you use a set of dumbbells rather than a barbell.

There are again several advantages and disadvantages associated with dumbbell bench presses. Advantages include the fact that you don’t need a spotter when going heavy as if the weight is too much, you can simply drop the dumbbells down at either side of you.

Dumbbell bench presses also put less strain on the shoulders and injuries are less common with dumbbells.

Disadvantages include the fact that you can’t use as much weight as you can with a barbell as the exercise is far more difficult. It can also be difficult getting the weights into a starting position when on your own.