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Risk/reward profile of dumbbell bench press

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  • Risk/reward profile of dumbbell bench press

    Hi Jordan,

    For a general strength trainee who already does a relatively high volume and frequency of barbell bench pressing, do you think dumbbell bench pressing (perhaps with an incline) has a favorable risk/reward profile as a supplemental movement? Assume no history of shoulder injury or pain.

    You've mentioned before that you dislocated a shoulder doing incline DB presses -- this and the general awkwardness of getting heavy dumbbells in position and dealing with failed reps makes me concerned about injury risk. On the other hand, it seems like there might be motor learning benefits from the variety and perhaps a greater hypertrophy stimulus for the pec due to the possibility of a greater stretch at the bottom and adduction at the top of the movement.

    Thanks so much for the great content you put out. I'm a much more informed lifter because of it.

  • #2
    Hey Patrick,

    Jordan had a history of multiple prior shoulder dislocations from his motocross background, which is strongest risk factor for recurrent dislocation. He has since continued to DB bench with far heavier weights than he was using at the time back in 2007, with no recurrence or further issues from this standpoint. So for someone without a history of shoulder issues, I would not consider the dumbbell bench to present a substantial enough injury risk that outweighs their potential training benefit. I also don't recommend routinely failing reps, either, so I don't find that to be a significant concern either.

    It's certainly possible to get strong without them (for example, I myself have not trained the dumbbell bench ... essentially ever, because I don't have dumbbells in my garage), so you don't have to use them, but if you have them available and need some additional benching / pressing volume, I think they're a good choice assuming you're getting enough exposure / practice with the barbell. I frequently program them for this purpose myself.
    IG / YT


    • #3
      Originally posted by PatrickD View Post
      the general awkwardness of getting heavy dumbbells in position and dealing with failed reps makes me concerned about injury risk.
      If this is a concern (more relevant the heavier you go with the DB pressing and/or if you're using spinlock DBs) I would highly recommend getting a set of Power Hooks. Getting into position on the bench should not be the hardest part of the lift, lol. I did one-arm DB bench while recovering from my biceps tendon repair and they helped greatly.