Disparity in weight while doing barbell vs dumbbell bench press.

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    Feb 07, 2014 6:18 PM GMT
    I lift more weight while doing dumbbell related chess presses in comparison to barbell presses. I also see my weights increasing faster doing dumbbell presses than doing barbell presses.
    Is something wrong with my form which is coming in the way of making improvements in barbell bench press? I seem to be stuck with the same weights in barbell bench press for a while.

    Any advice or suggestion?


    My bad, I have created it in the wrong section. I thought I was creating in the strength and training section. Can some admin move it there?
  • Chainers

    Posts: 375

    Feb 07, 2014 6:24 PM GMT
    morphic saidI lift more weight while doing dumbbell related chess presses in comparison to barbell presses. I also see my weights increasing faster doing dumbbell presses than doing barbell presses.
    Is something wrong with my form which is coming in the way of making improvements in barbell bench press? I seem to be stuck with the same weights in barbell bench press for a while.

    Any advice or suggestion?


    My bad, I have created it in the wrong section. I thought I was creating in the strength and training section. Can some admin move it there?


    Are you sure it isn't the other way around? Normally you can lift more with barbell because you do not have to balance the dumbbells which allows you to use more strength...

    If it is reverse, then this is normal. If not, then your form must be off.
  • Chainers

    Posts: 375

    Feb 07, 2014 6:42 PM GMT
    woodsmen saidI prefer dumbbell bench press. It is safer. And it makes the lift much harder.


    They are just different, I rotate between both because each has their own pro's/con's.

    Barbell helps me lift bigger while dumbbell will engage more balancing muscles in the area.
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    Feb 07, 2014 6:44 PM GMT
    My shoulders are both fucked up - dunno what it is, the doctors can't find anything wrong. Probably some kind of age-related impingement that doesn't show up on an MRI.

    But I can lift either dumbells or with individual cable handles much better than with a bar at this point, because it is much easier to vary the grip and keep form in a way that doesn't hurt.

    Long way of saying, me too.
  • killercliche

    Posts: 948

    Feb 07, 2014 6:57 PM GMT
    do you take into account that the bar is usually an extra 35lbs?
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    Feb 07, 2014 6:59 PM GMT
    icon_neutral.gif For me, dumbbell presses are limited by how much I can safely swing up into position. Not by how much I can press. (Also by how many weights I can actually cram onto the dumbbell handles. About 85 lbs.) So I mostly use them for the high-rep routines, or "pre-exhaust" with the barbell exercises. I suppose one could get a set of those "spotting stands." Not easy to find though. And I'm not sure there is room for any more crepe in my weight room.
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    Feb 07, 2014 7:30 PM GMT
    shaggyfromscoobydooisgay said
    killercliche saiddo you take into account that the bar is usually an extra 35lbs?


    if that's the case, the dumbbell handle has to weigh something as well.

    I do take into account the weight of the bar.
    And pazzy, the weight printed on the dumbbell sides are total weight, including the handle.
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    Feb 07, 2014 7:30 PM GMT
    shaggyfromscoobydooisgay said
    killercliche saiddo you take into account that the bar is usually an extra 35lbs?


    if that's the case, the dumbbell handle has to weigh something as well.


    Not so much. An olympic barbell is 45 lbs. Dumbbell handles (the ones I have anyway) are about 2.5 lbs. each. I suppose I should find some bigger ones. Not generally sold at sporting goods stores though. Or collect some larger fixed dumbbells, but yowee! Those get expensive.
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    Feb 07, 2014 7:33 PM GMT
    showme saidMy shoulders are both fucked up - dunno what it is, the doctors can't find anything wrong. Probably some kind of age-related impingement that doesn't show up on an MRI.

    But I can lift either dumbells or with individual cable handles much better than with a bar at this point, because it is much easier to vary the grip and keep form in a way that doesn't hurt.

    Long way of saying, me too.

    Yeah, I find barbell bench press bit restrictive in terms of allowed movement. On the other hand, dumbbell presses are much easier for me. I can do more weight and reps on dumbbell than barbell. People do say that those weights should be close.
    Something may be off with my form, not sure. Barbell bench press is one of my weakest point in my training. Not sure how to improve it. I have improved much in squats, deadlifts but not much on bench press.
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    Feb 07, 2014 7:43 PM GMT
    How do you get them into position? Do you use some sort of a stand or do you swing them up like doing some sort of exaggerated curl? I've been doing the latter, but it's easy to frack your back that way.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4434

    Feb 07, 2014 10:16 PM GMT
    An "Olympic" bar weighs 45 pounds. Fixed dumbbells actually weigh exactly what they say. If you subtract the bar, I bet you're lifting about the same for both. The dumbbells do require more stabilizer work and one side can't help the other as with a bar. If you subtract the bar and you're still doing better with the dumbbells, check your form with a trainer.
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    Feb 07, 2014 10:28 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidHow do you get them into position? Do you use some sort of a stand or do you swing them up like doing some sort of exaggerated curl? I've been doing the latter, but it's easy to frack your back that way.

    For starting the exercise, I put them on my knees and then I come back. And for ending, I put them back on my knees and then put them gently on the ground. I
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    Feb 07, 2014 10:36 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidHow do you get them into position? Do you use some sort of a stand or do you swing them up like doing some sort of exaggerated curl? I've been doing the latter, but it's easy to frack your back that way.


    Grab the dumbbells, sit on the bench, and then place the dumbbells upright on your legs just above your knees.
    Then lie down on the bench while moving the dumbbells into the starting position for the press, by your shoulders.

    It's like walking though. I probably wouldn't be able to do it if I think too much about it.

    When you're finished your set, you just reverse what you did to get them up, so that finally you're back sitting upright with the dumbbells back on your legs.

    The thing is to start with very light dumbbells, and then work your way up while you get used to the movement. By the time you're using heavier weights, you should no longer have to think about how to do it.

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    Feb 07, 2014 10:46 PM GMT
    Typically you can press more using a barbell than dumbbells.
    Are you lifting both on the same day?
    If you do one before the other, you might be limiting the strength you can use to lift the one after.
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    Feb 07, 2014 10:51 PM GMT
    shortmuscle saidTypically you can press more using a barbell than dumbbells.
    Are you lifting both on the same day?
    If you do one before the other, you might be limiting the strength you can use to lift the one after.

    I do the flat barbell bench press and inclined dumbbell press on same day. Actually, I do the barbell press before the inclined dumbbell, and still manage to lift more. Yeah, I have read that normally you press more in barbell than dumbbells.
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    Feb 07, 2014 11:02 PM GMT
    morphic said
    shortmuscle saidTypically you can press more using a barbell than dumbbells.
    Are you lifting both on the same day?
    If you do one before the other, you might be limiting the strength you can use to lift the one after.

    I do the flat barbell bench press and inclined dumbbell press on same day. Actually, I do the barbell press before the inclined dumbbell, and still manage to lift more. Yeah, I have read that normally you press more in barbell than dumbbells.


    Ok, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
    Just do the best you can on each.
    I don't think there is too much form to worry about with the barbell press.

    I actually never do the barbell anymore, so it's not much of an issue for me.
    Do what works for you.
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    Feb 07, 2014 11:07 PM GMT
    shortmuscle said
    morphic said
    shortmuscle saidTypically you can press more using a barbell than dumbbells.
    Are you lifting both on the same day?
    If you do one before the other, you might be limiting the strength you can use to lift the one after.

    I do the flat barbell bench press and inclined dumbbell press on same day. Actually, I do the barbell press before the inclined dumbbell, and still manage to lift more. Yeah, I have read that normally you press more in barbell than dumbbells.


    Ok, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
    Just do the best you can on each.
    I don't think there is too much form to worry about with the barbell press.

    I actually never do the barbell anymore, so it's not much of an issue for me.
    Do what works for you.

    So dumbbells have been more than enough for you to gain shape and size?
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    Feb 07, 2014 11:13 PM GMT
    morphic said
    shortmuscle said
    morphic said
    shortmuscle saidTypically you can press more using a barbell than dumbbells.
    Are you lifting both on the same day?
    If you do one before the other, you might be limiting the strength you can use to lift the one after.

    I do the flat barbell bench press and inclined dumbbell press on same day. Actually, I do the barbell press before the inclined dumbbell, and still manage to lift more. Yeah, I have read that normally you press more in barbell than dumbbells.


    Ok, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
    Just do the best you can on each.
    I don't think there is too much form to worry about with the barbell press.

    I actually never do the barbell anymore, so it's not much of an issue for me.
    Do what works for you.

    So dumbbells have been more than enough for you to gain shape and size?


    For me, yeah, but not everyone is the same.
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    Feb 08, 2014 1:40 AM GMT
    shortmuscle said
    mindgarden saidHow do you get them into position? Do you use some sort of a stand or do you swing them up like doing some sort of exaggerated curl? I've been doing the latter, but it's easy to frack your back that way.


    Grab the dumbbells, sit on the bench, and then place the dumbbells upright on your legs just above your knees.
    Then lie down on the bench while moving the dumbbells into the starting position for the press, by your shoulders.

    It's like walking though. I probably wouldn't be able to do it if I think too much about it.

    When you're finished your set, you just reverse what you did to get them up, so that finally you're back sitting upright with the dumbbells back on your legs.

    The thing is to start with very light dumbbells, and then work your way up while you get used to the movement. By the time you're using heavier weights, you should no longer have to think about how to do it.



    Makes sense, sorta. That's pretty much the way that I "dismount." But I just gave it a try and no-go with the 85s. Probably looked sort of funny. Worked OK with the 50s, but still much easier to swing them up to chest level before sitting down. Maybe it takes big forearms.

    I found some 20" handles on Amazon that could be loaded up to 120 lbs. each, but there would still be the problem of getting them in place.
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    Feb 08, 2014 1:42 AM GMT
    killercliche saiddo you take into account that the bar is usually an extra 35lbs?


    correction...bar is an extra 45 lbs. and if ur bout the gym life, you will do both barbell and dumbbell presses.
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    Feb 08, 2014 1:56 AM GMT
    mindgarden said
    shortmuscle said
    mindgarden saidHow do you get them into position? Do you use some sort of a stand or do you swing them up like doing some sort of exaggerated curl? I've been doing the latter, but it's easy to frack your back that way.


    Grab the dumbbells, sit on the bench, and then place the dumbbells upright on your legs just above your knees.
    Then lie down on the bench while moving the dumbbells into the starting position for the press, by your shoulders.

    It's like walking though. I probably wouldn't be able to do it if I think too much about it.

    When you're finished your set, you just reverse what you did to get them up, so that finally you're back sitting upright with the dumbbells back on your legs.

    The thing is to start with very light dumbbells, and then work your way up while you get used to the movement. By the time you're using heavier weights, you should no longer have to think about how to do it.



    Makes sense, sorta. That's pretty much the way that I "dismount." But I just gave it a try and no-go with the 85s. Probably looked sort of funny. Worked OK with the 50s, but still much easier to swing them up to chest level before sitting down. Maybe it takes big forearms.

    I found some 20" handles on Amazon that could be loaded up to 120 lbs. each, but there would still be the problem of getting them in place.


    Hey, that's great.

    Also, in case it isn't clear, going from seated with the dumbbells on your knees to lying on the bench in initial position is just one movement.
    That is, while you're going from seated to lying on your back, simultaneously move the dumbbells, so that by the time you're on your back you're in a starting position with the dumbbells at your shoulders.

    Doing both movements at the same time is what you have to learn to do without thinking.
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    Feb 08, 2014 2:00 AM GMT
    Yeah, when I did it, it was more like that shot in "Beetlejuice," (or maybe it was Bugs Bunny) where he heaved at the weights and his arms just got longer.

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    Feb 08, 2014 2:02 AM GMT
    This is a good thread. I do better on dumbbell chest presses than on barbell, and I never understood why. Or at least I feel I do. I haven't added up the weight. I just feel that I can work up the weight faster on dumbbells. I'm doing the right form on all, as form is a priority for me. It was how I was taught. I also learned from my physical therapists when I had rotator cuff and lateral and medial epicondylitis (tennis and golfers elbow, forget which is which) injuries. Form is always first or there is no reason to do the exercise - to prevent injury and also to use the muscles intended for the exercise. It's more than the basic instructions and guides for good form. You need to get used to how your own body feels using good form. Just the slightest out of position, and I feel it, and know "not to go there." Good form feels right and feels good.

    Using good form, the barbell still feels unnatural and compared to the barbell. It's not wrong, just I don't do so well with it. The guys at the gym love barbell presses, but they do dumbbell also. One older weightlifter told me once, if I really want to build my chest, use dumbbells. I am sure others agree and disagree.
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    Feb 08, 2014 8:19 AM GMT
    timct said
    Using good form, the barbell still feels unnatural and compared to the barbell. It's not wrong, just I don't do so well with it. The guys at the gym love barbell presses, but they do dumbbell also. One older weightlifter told me once, if I really want to build my chest, use dumbbells. I am sure others agree and disagree.

    Yeah, at my gym also most of the bigger guys go for barbell press.
    On the other hand, it's good to hear the old weightlifter recommended dumbbells.
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    Feb 08, 2014 8:23 AM GMT
    morphic said
    timct said
    Using good form, the barbell still feels unnatural and compared to the barbell. It's not wrong, just I don't do so well with it. The guys at the gym love barbell presses, but they do dumbbell also. One older weightlifter told me once, if I really want to build my chest, use dumbbells. I am sure others agree and disagree.

    Yeah, at my gym also most of the bigger guys go for barbell press.
    On the other hand, it's good to hear the old weightlifter recommended dumbbells.


    The bigger guys are on drugs. Don't worry about them. Do what's best for you.