How To Bench Press With Dumbbells Without Shoulder Pain

how to bench press with dumbbells
You can get a serious pump with dumbbells.

The Bench Press…dreaded by some and loved by many others. To be completely honest it hurt my shoulders for years after playing basketball so I avoided the barbell for a long time. If you are anything like me you still want to work your chest, triceps, and shoulders but the barbell may just bother your shoulders more than you would like. That’s why today I’m going to teach you how to bench press with dumbbells.

I’m going to cover:

  • How to bench press with dumbbells
  • Go over the proper form
  • Talk about what grip to use
  • Show you how to decrease shoulder pain and some things you may want to add into your training program

How To Bench Press With Dumbbells

Training with dumbbells does few positive things for you:

  • Adds more shoulder and core stability in each lift
  • Gives you the opportunity to add variety 
  • Takes pressure off your shoulder

Check out the video below to learn how to bench press with dumbbells properly

Go ahead, click play and watch it.

How To Bench Press With Proper Form

Bench Press is a great lift that has a lot of carry over to other pressing exercises. For a long time I struggled getting better at handstand push ups and did all the things you are supposed to do to get stronger:

  • Add tempo
  • Do negatives
  • Add bands
  • Etc

But no matter how much I tried hammering out shoulder presses and doing every handstand push up alternative on the planet didn’t get me as gainz as I wanted. 

But, adding in bench pressing once a week did. This is because I’m able to overload the triceps a lot more than I would be able to in shoulder press. Lesson learned. 

Pressing strength carries over to other pressing strengths. As I mentioned before I avoided it for so long because it bothered my shoulder so much. Over the years I have learned how to get my shoulders properly warmed up to avoid shoulder pain and injury. 

Check out my shoulder warm up before I bench press now by watching the video below. 

This warm up has saved me so much shoulder pain.

Grip For Bench Press

The grip for bench press should really be tailored to you. Yes that’s obvious BUT what I mean by that is you can go as wide as you want as long as your shoulder doesn’t round forward as the bar comes to your chest.

This is extremely common and often leads to shoulder pain. One mobility exercise I always do before doing bench press whether it’s with dumbbells, barbell, or even push ups is:

Do this before every pressing workout.

When you mobilize the position of restriction first (mobility) and then you activate the muscle (shoulder warm up) you are properly primed to lift so make sure you add those two things in before the next time you bench press! If you want to learn more about mobility check out this sweet write up I did on it here

Bench Press Benefits

What Muscle Groups Are Worked

The benefits of bench press are…come on you already know every dude wants to have a jacked chest and every woman out there wants to have their shoulders looking nice in their dresses/shirts. 

Here are some things you may not have known though but since I have you here I’m going to educate you 🙂 

  1. You should be doing pulling exercises twice as much as you should be doing pushing exercises. Here are two of my favorite:
We all need to be doing more of these.
These are tough. Give them a try.
  1. Doing a ton of chest exercises will tighten your pecs so make sure you at least give me this stretch after you bench press
Add this stretch in after your bench press workouts

Shoulder Pain?

Your bench press strength will carry over to pressing strengths as long as your mobility doesn’t suffer. What I mean by that is if you have a hard time going overhead and have shoulder pain (strict press, push press) things of that nature it’s likely because you have a hard time getting into a good overhead position. If that’s the case try this stretch the next time you do strict overhead presses and see if you feel any better. 

Do this the next time you shoulder press

DB Alternatives

The thing I love about training with dumbbells is it gives you the freedom to do a ton of different exercises and not everyone has a barbell.

The video below shows my favorite bench press alternatives with dumbbells. Here are the benefits in a nutshell:

  • The hips high allows you to get strength in your glutes and hamstrings which we all need more of
  • The unilateral (one arm) pressing gives you a great challenge in your obliques 
  • The added time under tension really gives you a great muscle burn…enjoy 🙂
I love the dumbbell alternative. It’s awesome.


I’m so glad you asked! You can’t just bench all the time. Well you can but as we talked about earlier your mobility is going to suck. Your chest is going to get tight, it’s going to pull your shoulders forward and it’s going to lead to shoulder pain. You don’t want that. 

So make sure you are doing these bench press accessory exercises!

Step 1.
Step 2.
Step 3.
Do this more.
Do this in between your bench press sets. Remember pull twice as much as you push.

Bench Press Workout

Alright enough with hounding you on how important it is to be doing mobility and why benching with dumbbells may be better for shoulders. Try this workout below and comment below with how heavy your set of two you got up to!

Take 12 Minutes to build up in weight:

**Bench x 5,3,2,3,2

Each set increase your weight and rest 90 seconds between sets.

Then complete:

Four sets of 8

**If you don’t have a barbell and are using dumbbells I have two alternatives for you:

  1. Double the reps and add a slight tempo (slow on the way down) 
  2. After each set crank out a set of push ups. Watch the video below to make sure to learn how to do push ups with good form too
Everyone could use a reminder of how to do push ups properly.

After completing your bench press series try this conditioning wod. 

Side note if the thought of this makes you want to vomit or is way outside of your comfort zone I encourage you to get off the split training routine and add in some strength and conditioning into your life 🙂

Four rounds for time:

1. 40 x Double Under OR Single Under x 80 

2. 20 x Reverse Lunge

3. 20 x of the video below

This exercise is great for your triceps.

Conclusion & How To Increase Your Bench Press

We discussed how to bench press with dumbbells, why mobility is important, what you should be doing to warm up properly before you bench but here I want to share with you my last few tips on how to increase your bench press. Following a progression training program is hands down #1. I will show you a few things we do within our strength and power training program below:

  1. Follow % based programming. 

This allows us to test you (find your max) then over the course of a training cycle dictate what weight we want you to use. We use a progression overload training methodology along with other techniques I have learned over the years. 

  1. Add tempo down on the eccentric phase of your lift (controlling down)

The increased time under tension really will provide you with some series gains. 

  1. Add bands 

Bands makes it harder to press or “lock out” and really reinforces the drive needed to press big weight.

  1. Bench Press Accessories & Alternatives

Throughout each training program we provide a ton of beautifully aka (hard) designed supersets, combinations and variations all with the goal in mind to increase your strength.

To join our strength training program click this link here and see how you can get started for just $1!

how to bench press with dumbbells
Your coaches Kevin & Katie


We created a free five day ab workout course you may enjoy. It’s ten minutes a day, check it out by clicking here.

Keep training hard guys and leave any questions you may have the comments below 🤙🏻

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  1. […] hurt your shoulders, we can keep your heart rate up, and we can focus on building strength first. Here are a few of my favorite exercises to bench with dumbbells if you want to strengthen your chest […]

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