When developing an effective chest training routine, press exercises are essential for building mass and strength in the pectoral muscles and achieving overall good fitness.
Adding the bench press as a main part of your upper-body workout allows you to take advantage of the benefits of a compound movement: effective exercise of multiple muscle groups at once and faster release of testosterone into your system for faster recovery, greater fat burning and muscle growth.
Choosing to make the bench press a key component of your routine is one step, choosing which method to use for the bench press is another. The barbell bench press is one of the most traditional and popular options for chest workouts. Comprised of a straight metal barbell with plates added to the ends, a barbell is what most people think of when it comes to the bench press. Dumbbells are another popular option for press exercises and are used in pairs during bench press exercises generally with the same weight on each side. A flat, sturdy bench is used with the bar or dumbbells to support your weight while allowing you to keep your feet flat on the floor.
Note : When planning your upper body routine, perform compound exercises like the bench press at the beginning of your workout and then continue with more isolated workouts as openings and crosses for increased muscle exhaustion.
Should I choose barbell or dumbbells for the bench press?
There are three components of a bench press that can drastically affect your results: range of motion, symmetrical effort, and muscle tension. Here are some barbell and dumbbell press comparisons when it comes to these factors:
1. Range of motion
Barbell Press : When grasping a bar, your hands lock into a fixed position on the bar and then you begin to press up. This movement does not allow your arms to move through their full range of motion, limiting the potential extension of your arms and the impact of the bench press itself
Dumbbell Press : The dumbbell press requires both hands and arms to lift the dumbbell and allows you to extend yourself further, significantly increasing your range of motion. This allows more muscles to move and be placed under more tension from the press, increasing the muscle benefit of your workout.
2. Symmetric development
Barbell Press : One of the problems with pushing a single barbell is that sometimes mastery of the hands comes into play. If you bench press while favoring one side, you could end up with a size and growth imbalance in your muscles.
Dumbbell Press : Since each arm has its own system for pushing the weight, each arm moves independently to lift the dumbbell. This allows each side to do the same work and develop equally.
3. Muscle tension
Barbell press : During a barbell press, it can be tempting to slide your hands outward to distribute muscle tension to other muscle groups outside of the chest. This in turn decreases the stress placed on the pectoral muscles, which can negatively affect your results.
Dumbbell Press : Since the dumbbell press allows a greater range of motion in the exercise, you have more control over the movement of your arms and can maintain more your movement in front of your body instead of outwards. This will allow you to maintain a more concentrated tension on your chest muscles for a longer period of time, maximizing your results.
The most important thing to remember with any exercise is that consistency is key, as well as knowing the basics of a compound movement. Variety ranks close in importance. Almost all weightlifters will start on the bench with a bare barbell and quickly (or slowly) work their way up to more and more plates. Eventually, however, your training will stabilize, become stale, and even inefficient; That’s where the dumbbells will come to your rescue.
Dumbbells will help you increase your range of motion, stay longer under tension, and help you exaggerate your chest pressure movement. Without the help of a training partner, dumbbells are your best friend to help you overcome a plateau and squeeze those extra gains.