Introduction to The Bench Press
On the surface, while comparing the dumbbell bench press vs barbell bench press, there may not be many differences. Both exercises are great complex lifts, that primarily target the chest. Both can be considered as an absolute essential in any serious weight lifting program. However, if we take a closer look at each of these weight lifting exercises, there are many things that set these two very similar lifts apart.
We notice that during both lifts, the primary motion focuses on a press of some amount of weight perpendicular to your chest. This allows you to target not only your chest muscles, but also will work your triceps and deltoids, however although these lifts even have the same motion, the way that they are executed effects the way you build muscle and what type you are able to build.
Analysis of the Dumbbell Bench Press
First, we will analyze the dumbbell bench press, as it is much less popular than its counterpart, the barbell bench press. For this lift, we still want our palms facing the direction of our feet, while lifting the bar perpendicular to the chest. The primary benefit of this lift is that it makes one focus on stabilizing the weight. On first trial, one might notice that it is very hard to keep the weights in line, and that should make sense, as both arms are not moving as one, but are separate. This forces one to use the shoulders and chest in order to keep the weights in line.
You must also focus on the range of motion while completing the barbell bench press, as there is no bar to just hit your chest to alert you of the end of your range of motion. This will also take some practice, so I would suggest starting light, and working your way up. Also, you will most likely not be able to do as much weight on this lift compared to its counterpart, the barbell bench, due to the need to stabilize the weight.
Analysis of the Barbell Bench Press
Now, while looking at the barbell bench press, we can see that this is a much more popular lift in the gym, but that does not make it superior to the dumbbell bench press, it just has different advantages. First off, you will be able to do much more weight on this lift. However, if you are not able to control the weight, you will be more likely to hurt yourself during the course of the lift. Due to the fact that this is a complex lift, you are engaging multiple muscles into every repetition, allowing you to lift a large amount of weight.
The barbell bench press is an essential to any program for building mass, and increasing your overall appearance. By using the bench press, you will be able to completely fill out your chest, and if coupled with an incline or decline bench press, you will have a nice built chest within a few months. The barbell bench press is much more beginner friendly, as you can easily find the bottom of the repetition, and the barbell has markings for where you should line up your hands. Because of this, I would recommend that beginners to weight lifting begin with the barbell bench, and not the dumbbell bench.
While both lifts have their advantages and disadvantages, I would highly recommend that you integrate both lifts into your workout program. Because one is great for stabilization and the other for building mass, you can run month or two month cycles of each. This will allow for your joints to take a break too, because the motion is so ever slightly different. Both are great lifts, and if you have not added them to your chest workout, it should be immediately considered as it will bring great benefits to your overall achievement of your goal.