Biomechanics of Bench Press – Dumbbell Versus Barbell

In this chapter, I will discuss about my perspectives on differences between dumbbell bench press (DBP) and barbell bench press (BBP)

Difference-1: In DBP, both the dumbbells are allowed to contact each other during each push which enables humerus on both sides to adduct more and attain a vertical position before returning back to neutral. In BBP, the distance between the hands remains constant hence scope for humerus to adduct is limited up to 60 degrees (approximately) from horizontal.

Difference-2: In DBP, triceps must act concomitantly to extend the elbow, because during horizontal adduction of shoulders, the elbows can tend to flex and hands moving towards the chest. In BBP, the load on and the effort taken by pectorals and deltoid increases, and as a result, shoulder horizontal adduction may be sufficient enough to raise the bar without much demand from triceps.

Difference-3: In DBP, at the end of each push, ulnar deviation of wrist may be required. But in BBP, at the end of each push, closed radial deviation of the wrists must occur (closed-kinematic chain).

Difference-4: If we keep the load constant, DBP may demand more energy output from push muscles than barbell bench press. The reason for this is greater work done during dumbbell bench press due to greater distance traveled by the load from neutral position to end position. The amount of linear distance traveled by the load during barbell bench press can be approximately calculated using the following formula;

Distance traveled by the Barbell = (Length of upper extremity x Cosine 60 degrees ) – Length of the forearm.

Pungky Dwiasmoro Hiswardhani

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