Well, here’s a bit of bad news…that flat barbell bench press you’ve been doing is NOT the best exercise for building a great chest. I reserve THAT title for the Dumbbell Bench Press.
- It’s easier on the shoulders because you have more freedom of movement
- Neither side can take over the movement because each arm operates independently
- You can’t mess up your grip spacing (actually a BIG problem with a lot of people on the barbell bench press)
There are other advantages but bottom line, in my opinion, the Dumbbell Bench Press is absolutely superior to the Barbell Bench Press for chest development.
Now, if you’ve read any of my articles where I talk about the Dumbbell Bench Press, you know I’m a BIG fan of doing the exercise on the Swiss ball rather than on an actual flat bench.
The reason is NOT because of the instability of the ball – that’s incidental to me (though it is useful from a core-training perspective). The reason is because of the SHAPE of the ball (round, in case you were wondering… 🙂
With a round ball, you can wrap your back around the ball and better expand your rib cage. This helps keep your shoulders back, putting your pecs in a much better position to perform the exercise. If you can’t feel much in your chest on the flat barbell bench, you need to use the Swiss ball NOW.
This tip is an explanation of how to best get the dumbells into position to do the exercise. I’ve been doing this exercise for a LOT of years and this is the best way, by far, I’ve found for getting the dumbells into position and performing the exercise.
Another good thing about the ball…I find it MUCH easier to work with heavy dumbbells when on the ball. One thing you DEFINITELY want to make sure of before doing any heavy dumbbell work on the ball is that you have a GOOD ball – no Wal-Mart el-cheapo “toning” ball here.
You want something that is thick rubber and anti-burst (meaning if it leaks, it’s not going to pop – it’ll just leak slowly, giving you time to set your weights down). Nothing good happens when a Swiss ball pops while you’re under a big load.
So make sure your ball is good quality. Get yours from an actual training equipment retailer like “Resist-A-Ball“. I got my ball from SportSmith (that link goes to the exact ball I’ve got – you’ll notice it’s anti-burst).
Another good one is available through Power Systems, called the Power Versa Ball (rated to 2000 lbs).
So, once you’ve got your ball, grab some dumbbells. Start with lighter dumbells at first – once you get the technique down, you can really get into some heavy weights. I’m up to 90 lb dumbbells. For me, the Dumbbell Bench Press on the Swiss Ball is a MUCH better chest developer than Flat Barbell Bench Press. Give it a shot, you’ll enjoy the feeling you get, not to mention the extra effort it takes to put the dumbbells down. Good stuff.
Make Today Better Than Yesterday,
Compliments of Tru-Strength Performance and Nick Nilsson
Nick Nilsson is Vice-President of the online personal training company BetterU, Inc. He has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been inventing new training techniques for more than 17 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding eBooks including “Muscle Explosion! 28 Days to Maximum Mass”, “Metabolic Surge – Rapid Fat Loss,” “The Best Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of,” and “The Best Abdominal Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of” all available at here.