Barbell Bench Press vs Dumbbell Bench Press: Which is [Better for You?]

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Written By Samarjit Sinha

Working out for 10 years | Has a home gym | CPD (UK) Certificate holder in Fitness

Barbell Bench Press vs Dumbbell Bench Press: Top Choice for Home Gym Workout!

In one line, if you do not have a power rack + bench then you should do a dumbbell bench press.

With a rack and bench, you can do barbell bench presses safely.

So then you can do BB bench press – it will make you stronger.

Barbell Bench Press vs Dumbbell Bench Press

What is the barbell bench press?

The barbell bench press is a traditional exercise that is performed on a flat bench. It is a compound, barbell-based movement that enables micro-load ability and terminal consistency, giving lifters the ability to add small increments of weight and achieve uniform reps.

The barbell bench press is more demanding than the dumbbell bench press.

The barbell bench press requires a bench with a barbell rack.

I often do BB bench press with a 5*5 rep scheme for strength.

What are the benefits of the barbell bench press?

Barbell Quote

The barbell bench press offers more benefits than the dumbbell bench press.

Barbells can be safer when lifting heavy weights

Barbells are safer than other types of equipment when lifting heavy weights because they allow you to lift heavier weights more easily than dumbbells.

With barbells, you can use two hands to move one weight, and they also require less stabilization of the weight.

Barbells also require a spotter for certain exercises, allowing for a greater sense of security when lifting heavier weights.

Furthermore, barbell exercises usually require less coordination and focus, making them more suitable for those with chronic injuries.

Barbell range of motion

A Barbell bench press is more practical than dumbbells for certain exercises.

The barbell bench press is a great exercise for developing strength and power.

It’s also more practical than dumbbells for certain exercises, like Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit.

However, dumbbells are easier to learn than barbells for a beginner.

barbell bench press video

The shoulder press is another example of an exercise that is easier with dumbbells when you’re first starting out.

The effect of the barbell weight itself is not negligible at all as well. (1)

Barbells are easy to Overload and Progress 🏋️

Barbells are easy to overload and progress.

You can add weight in small increments, which allows you to gradually increase the amount of weight you are lifting.

Everyone would also confirm that you can lift more weight using a barbell than a dumbbell.

barbell bench press muscles worked

Barbells provide better stability than dumbbells

When performing the barbell bench press, stability is important because it allows you to lift heavier weights.

If you are lifting a heavy weight, you need to be able to control the weight and keep it from moving around too much.

This is why barbells are often preferred over dumbbells for this exercise.

However, having a rack will help make the exercise safer than using a dumbbell.

Barbells emphasize the muscle groups more than dumbbells

There are many benefits to using barbells over dumbbells, especially when it comes to building mass and strength.

Bb bench press with a rack

Barbells allow for greater strength, meaning that each side of the body is worked equally, preventing muscular imbalances from developing.

This study found that changing the angle of the bench press affects how much different muscles are being used.

When the bench press is done on a flat bench, the three parts of the pectoralis major and the anterior deltoid all have similar activity.

However, when the bench is inclined at 30 degrees, the upper part of the pectoralis major is used more.

When the angle is increased past 30 degrees, the anterior deltoid is used more, and the activity in the three parts of the pectoralis major decreases.

With barbell, you can do workouts like squats, BB curls etc.

What is the dumbbell bench press?

The dumbbell bench press is a compound exercise that works the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

The dumbbell bench press can be done with one arm at a time or with both arms simultaneously.

The dumbbell bench press provides an ego check on the amount of weight used due to the need to maintain shoulder stability throughout the exercise.

The dumbbell bench press can be featured as a main lift in your workouts or an accessory lift to the bench press depending on your goals.

I would often do 3*10 sets of DB chest presses in my workout routine.

What are the benefits of the dumbbell bench press?

Db Bench Press
Source: AthleanX

Dumbbells can be safer when lifting heavy weights compared to barbells.

Dumbbells are often seen as the safer option when lifting heavy weights, especially for beginners.

This is because dumbbells are easier to learn and maneuver.

And dumbbell exercises are generally easier on the joints than barbell exercises, making them ideal for beginners.

Barbell exercises can be more dangerous if done incorrectly, requiring a spotter or a heavier weight.

You can try doing the version below without any bench as well!

Dumbbells can provide better stability than barbells.

The stability of the dumbbells allows for a more consistent and controlled movement, which is important when trying to build muscle and strength.

The barbell can be more difficult to control due to its longer length, which can lead to an uneven lifting motion and a greater risk of injury.

Dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion than barbells.

Dumbbells provide a greater range of motion than barbells.

See those elbows going down below the chest level

The bar will stop at your chest but with dumbbells, you can lower your arm below your chest level.

Thus you will train your chest with more range of motion.

However, be sure to control all of the motion with good form.

Dumbbells Make Greater Use Of Stabilizer Muscles

Dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion, which in turn activates more stabilizer muscles.

These muscles work to keep the weight balanced and help you maintain good form.

While this is not beneficial for developing strength yet you will still need these stabilizer muscles.

Dumbell bench press muscles worked

Dumbbells Can Be Safer When You’re New

Dumbbells are easier to learn and safer than barbells for beginners.

Beginners often can not push equally with both hands using a barbell.

I often used my right hand more thus using dumbbells helped me reduce that imbalance.

Dumbbells can provide better muscle isolation than barbells.

With DB chest press you can go single-handed workouts and you can focus on building that mind-muscle connection.

According to a study, DB chest press seems to activate the pectoral muscles more than the barbell bench press as well.

BB bench press vs DB bench press muscle activation of chest

So…Which exercise is better for you?

The benefits of the dumbbell bench press are that it is great for developing functional strength and removing muscle imbalances.

Does one chest look larger or smaller than the other?

The DB chest press is your friend!

The barbell bench press is better for developing muscle mass and generating strength.

20% more weight can be pressed with a barbell than with a dumbbell.

When to perform a barbell bench press

The best time to perform a barbell bench press is 2 to 3 times per week.

This allows you to maximize your strength gains while avoiding muscle fatigue.

When it comes to the best time to perform a barbell bench press, it is usually programmed on upper body, push, or chest workouts.

If you’re looking to increase your strength, then it is recommended to use a heavier weight and train in the 1-5 rep range.

For hypertrophy, the 6-15 rep range may be more optimal. Generally, it is wise to perform the barbell bench press more frequently (1-3 times per week) in order to improve your technique and performance.

If you’re a powerlifter, it’s best to practice the back squat, bench press, and deadlift on the same day leading up to the competition.

I follow workout routines like GZCL, and Reddit’s PPL and they have a good balance of exercise distribution for strength and mass building.

When to perform a dumbbell bench press

Since it is often recommended to train each muscle group twice a week. I would keep a day of gap between BB bench press and DB bench press.


Is the dumbbell press harder than the bench press?

The Dumbell Bench press is easier than the barbell version. But lifting really heavy weights with dumbbells will be very challenging. Thus it will be really hard to progressive overload.

Are dumbbell presses as effective as barbell presses?

BB bench presses are a gold standard when it comes to building strength. DB presses are also good but for reducing muscle imbalances, increasing mass etc.

Which exercise is better for hypertrophy?

Both BB press and DB press should work for hypertrophy.

Regardless of which lift you choose, it is important to incorporate metabolic stress into your workout.

Reps of 6-12 and a rest period of 90-120 seconds between sets should be enough to achieve the desired effect.

Close grip bench press in motion

Which exercise is better for developing the triceps muscles?

The close-grip barbell bench press allows for heavier weights to be lifted and results in greater strength gains, making it ideal for those looking to increase their strength.



Barbell Bench Press vs Dumbbell Bench Press: What are the risks?

The risks associated with the barbell bench press include injury due to the ability to lift more weight and the risk of ego getting in the way.

Injury risk is greater with the barbell bench press since you can lift more weight, and you will need a spotter to safely train for failure.


The range of motion is limited with the barbell bench press due to the bar hitting your chest.

The risks associated with the dumbbell bench press include difficulty in getting into the proper position and inability to lift as much weight overall.

There is the risk of going too deep with the range of motion, which could place excessive strain on the shoulder.

Although dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion than barbells, you may not be able to find heavy enough dumbbells in the gym.

Overall, the barbell bench press is designed for maximal strength while the dumbbell bench press is beneficial for a range of motion and working opposing muscles.

Therefore, it is important to consider both the risks and benefits of each when deciding which exercise to choose.

Dumbbell bench or barbell – Which exercise is better for building strength?

The bench press is great for increasing maximum strength, as it allows for the heaviest amount of weight to be lifted.

It is a great choice for athletes who participate in strength-based sports such as rugby or American football.

The fixed nature of the bar limits the stretch placed on the pecs, so the shoulders and triceps are more stimulated. It is also more likely to aggravate the joints.

For the best results, it is recommended to incorporate both exercises into your workout.

Rest periods for bench press
Source: Builtwithscience

Utilize the bench press for heavier loads and longer rest periods, and use dumbbell presses for lighter weights and shorter rest periods.

This combination will ensure both mechanical and metabolic stress is achieved, leading to better results.

Barbell bench press or dumbbell bench press: How do I choose?

The barbell bench press allows you to lift heavy weights and is ideal for developing strength for powerlifting.

On the other hand, the dumbbell bench press offers a greater range of motion and a shoulder-friendly arm path, making it easier to set up than a barbell bench press.

The dumbbell bench press allows for more muscle isolation and is beneficial for hypertrophy or injury prevention.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on the goals of the individual, their training history, the equipment available, and the risk of injury.

For home gym-based workouts, I would do both.

Monday: 5*5 reps of BB chest press.

Wednesday: 3*10 reps of DB chest press.

BB bench press vs DB bench Press

About The Skinny Author


Working Out for 10 years | Owns a home gym |Certificate course done on Improving Aerobic Fitness, Diet | CPD (UK) Accredited Certification on Fitness

Yo Friends, this is Samarjit! A skinny guy who is building his tiny home gym.

I have successfully gained 10 kgs in 10 months going to commercial gyms. And I have been working out on and off for about 10+ years now.

I have gone swimming, done martial arts, Olympic lifts and body-building-type workouts!

I canceled the gym subscription as I was more into making my home gym for workouts. And getting ready, then getting my cycle and ride to the commercial gym seemed a drag after 10 hours in the office.

Thus, I needed a home that I could access at any moment!
And I started building my home gym!

I had to research a lot to build my home gym and decided to share effective, budget-friendly home gym machines, and nutrition to buy as per your goals here in

If you have question then contact me here

Ps: The author is highly experienced with making small workout routines, understanding and guiding people to get gym equipment, and setting up the home gym as per their Fitness goals.

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