Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Unilateral)
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Shoulders, Triceps
Target Muscle Group


Chest Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Alternate Dumbbell Bench Press (high start) Overview

The alternate dumbbell bench press exercise is a chest exercise that also challenges the stabilization muscles of the core and shoulders.

By keeping one weight elevated during the alternate dumbbell bench press, you keep constant tension on the shoulder and pec. By alternating each rep, you also force your core to stabilize your body on the bench to complete each rep.

Be sure to start with the weaker side of your chest when performing alternate dumbbell bench press. This exercise is a great way to challenge yourself if you are used to perform dumbbell bench press only.

Alternate Dumbbell Bench Press (high start) Instructions

  1. Pick up the dumbbells off the floor using a neutral grip (palms facing in). Position the ends of the dumbbells in your hip crease, and sit down on the bench.
  2. To get into position, lay back and keep the weights close to your chest. Once you are in position, take a deep breath, and press the dumbbells to lockout at the top.
  3. Slowly lower one dumbbell under control as far as comfortably possible (the handle should be about level with your chest) while keeping the other locked out at the top.
  4. Contract the chest and push the dumbbell back up to the starting position.
  5. Slowly lower the other dumbbell under control as far as comfortably possible (the handle should be about level with your chest) while keeping the other locked out at the top.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

**Dropping the dumbbells to the side is discouraged unless you are experienced with the technique or using excessively heavy weights.

**Ideally you should twist the dumbbells back to neutral (palms facing each other), bring your knees up so the ends of the dumbbells are touching your thighs, then use the weight of the dumbbells to rock back to an upright, seated position.

Alternate Dumbbell Bench Press (high start) Tips

  1. Maintain more tension through the pecs by not locking out the elbows entirely.
  2. Keep the weights slightly tilted at a 45 degree angle in order to keep the elbows in a neutral position.
  3. Don’t allow the dumbbells to collide at the top of each rep - bouncing them together may cause you to lose stability within the shoulder and injure yourself.
  4. Squeeze the dumbbells as tight as possible to improve a phenomenon known as “irradiation” which promotes greater shoulder stability.
  5. Keep your shoulder blades pinched together to ensure the shoulders remain in a safe position.
  6. Imagine you’re trying to push yourself away from the weights rather than pushing the weights away from yourself.
  7. If you’re feeling pain within the shoulder joint itself (specifically at the front), ensure your shoulder blades are slightly retracted and try to keep the shoulder girdle “packed”.
  8. Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs and don’t allow your lower back to excessively arch.
  9. Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t allow the lower body to move during the set.