Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

How to Properly Perform Flat Dumbbell Press

Just because the flat dumbbell bench press looks simple, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it wrong.

If anything, it’s the simplicity of the exercise that makes it so easy for people to mess up.

I will show you exactly how you need to position the different parts of your body, how you should lift the weights, and even what you have to do as soon as you’re finished with this particular exercise.

Is the flat dumbbell chest press a compound movement?

Yes, it's a compound movement because it moves multiple joints and activates more than one muscle.

The secondary muscles that get worked during this exercise are the front delts (shoulders) and triceps. 

What part of the chest does the dumbbell press work?

When you're in a flat position, you're working primarily the center-mass (middle) chest. When you position the bench in the incline or decline setting is when you target the upper or lower chest. 

If you’re still new to the gym, chances are that you probably feel intimidated by the different machines surrounding you.

Upon seeing all these machines with cables and weights, you may think that you’re in over your head and you may, understandably, shy away from trying them.

Instead of using one of the unfamiliar machines, you figure that the best course of action is to just grab some dumbbells, lie down on the bench, and proceed to pump some iron. 

chest workout with dumbbell bench press

Before we discuss this chest exercise in detail though, let’s highlight some of the common mistakes people make when performing this exercise at the gym.

Common Mistakes Of Bench Pressing

A mistake some people tend to make when trying to execute this move is related to how their body is positioned on the bench itself.

Some people have this tendency to arch their back too high whenever they are in the middle of performing the bench presses.

A little bit of arch is fine and even recommended, but if your lower back is not in contact with the bench, then you’re just exhibiting poor form.

You are opening your lower back up to potential injury by doing so, and on top of that, you’re not getting the full workout.

With an overly arched back, lifting the dumbbells becomes easier and that means that the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms aren’t working as hard.

Elbows flaring out too much can also be a problem during bench presses.

Similar to arching your back too high, allowing your elbows to flare out to the point where they are aligned with your shoulders can cause injury and no one wants that.

Another common mistake typically occurs once the person performing the exercise is finished.

You may be tempted to just let the dumbbells roll off your hands and on to the floor after you’ve completed the presses, but that’s a bad idea.

You can sustain an arm injury pretty easily if you do that.

Step-by-Step On How To Dumbbell Chest Press

chest exercises with dumbbells
chest workout with dumbbells

Start out by sitting on the bench and then pick the dumbbells up off the ground. Hold the dumbbells up vertically and if you want to, you can rest the ends on your thighs.

From that position, lean back and lift your feet off the floor. Continue leaning back until your head is flat on the bench. Put your feet down too, but only the toes should be touching the ground.

Remember not too allow your elbows to flare out. What you want is to get them halfway between your shoulders and armpits.

Arch your lower back ever so slightly and start to lift the dumbbells. Push away from the dumbbells as you are raising them to get your chest muscles more involved in the exercise.

Breathe out at the apex of the lift.

As you’re lowering the dumbbells, make sure to retract your shoulders back and down. That is an important step because it enables you to activate your chest and shoulder muscles more effectively. You won’t be getting as much from the exercise as you can if you neglect that step.

Inhale as you lower the dumbbells and take your time as well.

Once you’ve completed all your reps, position the dumbbells close to your chest with your elbows tucked in and then lift your knees closer to your midsection.  From there, rock your body forward so that you can return to an upright sitting position on the bench.


That’s it! You’ve just completed a round of properly executed dumbbell bench presses.

You always want to get the most out of your exercises while also avoiding injuries as much as possible.

By following the tips detailed above, you should have no trouble with this exercise moving forward.

Let us know if this article was helpful to you, and please share if you enjoyed it.

Talk soon,
CC Matthews
Transformation Coach/ Pizza Lover

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