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Barbell Vs. Dumbbell: How to Enhance Your Press Techniques

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 6, 2022

When it comes to press exercises, many weightlifters debate whether dumbbells or barbells are better. The truth is they both have their advantages depending on your goals and situation. But that still begs the question – what techniques should you use to get the most out of each? In this article, we review:

Barbell vs Dumbbell - What Is The Difference?

The obvious difference between barbells and dumbbells is that barbells are long and have a rigid structure, while dumbbells are shorter. When doing chest presses, you need to use two dumbbells – one in each hand.

This means that barbells are better suited for press exercises when your goal is more stability when lifting. Barbells also typically allow you to lift more weight than dumbbells. This is because the weight is evenly distributed across the bar, making it easier to lift heavier weights.

Dumbbells, on the other hand, are better for when you want to increase your range of motion and get the most out of your movements. They can be more challenging to use for a press because the weight is not evenly distributed and you have to use more stabilizing muscles to get the weight up. But this also means that you can get a better workout with the same movements.

Dumbbells have the following advantages:

Barbells offer:

  • More stability
  • Ability to lift more weight

So, how should you use each one to get the most out of your press exercises? Let's dive in.

Incline Dumbbell Press

The incline dumbbell press is a simple and effective exercise for targeting your upper chest muscles. The incline position puts more emphasis on your deltoids and upper pecs.

Using a barbell for the incline bench press can make the movement less of a challenge for beginners. However, if you want to get the most out of the exercise, using dumbbells is the way to go.

Best Angle For Incline Dumbbell Press

The incline dumbbell press can be performed at a variety of angles, but the most effective angle is between 30 and 45 degrees. This angle allows you to target your upper chest muscles without putting too much strain on the shoulder joints.

Using dumbbells for this exercise allows you to increase your range of motion and activate more muscle fibers during your exercise – increasing the overall effectiveness of the movement.

Incline Bench Press vs Flat Bench Press

The flat bench press is a great exercise for targeting the chest muscles, but it can also be quite challenging for beginners when using dumbbells, which is why the barbell variation is often recommended for beginners who are still working on perfecting their form.
The main difference between the two exercises is the angle of the bench. The flat bench press is done on a flat bench instead of an inclined one. This angle targets the pectoralis major muscle, which is the large chest muscle.

Floor Press vs Bench Press

The floor press movement is very similar to the flat bench press, with the key difference being that, because you are lying on the floor, you are unable to lower the weight as far down as you finish the movement. This shortened range of motion can help to avoid shoulder pain or injury.
Doing this exercise with dumbbells will make it more challenging and activate more muscle fibers.

Using a barbell will give you more stability and allow you to lift more weight, which might be preferable if you are a beginner or have an old shoulder injury.

Barbells allow you to lift more weight and provide you with more stability, but dumbbells provide a wider range of motion and improve circulation and sleep, according to WebMD. Dumbbells will give you more variety overall for your money.

Exercises to Improve Bench Press Technique

The first thing you should do when trying to improve your bench press is to focus on your form during the exercise. Make sure you're keeping your back flat and your core engaged throughout the entire movement. Always keep your elbows slightly bent at the top of the motion, and keep your movement controlled throughout the bench press. If you can do this, you'll be sure to see better results as your form improves.

In addition to focusing on your form, you should also try adding 5 fun track workouts to your routine. These exercises will help build up the muscles you use during the bench press and improve your overall strength.

Some great exercises to add to your routine to improve your bench press are:

  • Dead presses
  • Overhead presses
  • Pull-ups
  • Barbell Rows
  • Dips
  • Tricep Pushdowns
  • Chest Flys
  • Reverse Flys
  • Deficit Pushups
  • Overhead press
  • Front and Lateral Raises

Try incorporating some of these exercises into your routine by doing 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, 2-3 times per week. If you can do this, you will see a significant improvement in your bench press strength and technique in no time.

The Bottom Line

Both the barbell and dumbbell are great tools for chest presses, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you're going for stability and an easier time keeping proper technique while lifting heavy, go for a barbell.

But if you want a challenge or if you're trying to activate more muscle fibers or need to isolate a specific muscle group during your press exercises, go for dumbbells. Choose the weightlifting method that's right for you and your goals.

FAQs

Which is better? Barbells or dumbbells?

Barbells allow you to lift more weight and provide you with more stability, but dumbbells provide a wider range of motion and according to WebMD, dumbbells improve circulation and sleep. Dumbbells will give you more variety overall for your money.

If I want to get stronger, which is better? Barbells or dumbbells?

Barbells allow you to lift more weight and incorporate heavier loads into your workout routine.

Are dumbbells safer than barbells?

Dumbbells are generally considered to be safer than barbells because they are smaller in size and easier to move around.

 


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