Banded Dumbbell Bench Press (How-To & Benefits)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: November 28, 2023
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As a certified strength and fitness coach, I often recommend that bodybuilders use more resistance bands for different exercises.

And the one that usually raises eyebrows and questions is the banded dumbbell bench press.

There are some excellent benefits to this exercise as long as you do it with proper form and the right setup for the bands.

So, I got some of my clients to help and test a few different setups and approaches to come up with the best and safest way.

Let me show you what’s involved.

Quick Summary

  • For the banded dumbbell bench press, you need to loop a band under the bench and attach each end to the handle of a dumbbell.
  • The movement introduces a gradual increase in additional intensity that has a great effect on muscle activation.
  • A simple variation with a barbell also offers a great way for weight-lifting beginners to get used to traditional bench presses.
  • And to get even more out of these training sessions, I recommend that you add a top-quality pre-workout to your stack.

How To Do Banded Dumbbell Bench Press

People doing banded dumbbell bench presses in the gym

Let me give you step-by-step instructions on how to do banded dumbbell bench press exercises.

The first couple of steps are the most important ones: 

  • Get a flat bench at the gym  and place a dumbbell on each side on the ground.
  • Attach the looped end of a band around the center of the dumbbell handle.
  • Make sure that the center of the band is directly below the bench to ensure each side has the same level of tension.
  • Grab hold of the dumbbells and lay down on the bench holding the free weights close to your chest.
  • Slowly push up the dumbbells and feel how the strain of the weight and band gradually increases as you get closer to the top.
  • Hold the top position for one second and then slowly lower the weights back down again.
  • The shorter or thicker the band is, the more strain you’ll add, and the better the benefits will be.

What Are The Benefits?

A person flexing his shoulder and arm muscles

The main benefits of doing a banded dumbbell bench press are improved coordination and balance, increased muscle activation, and a unique tension curve.

Let me show you what I mean.

Improved Coordination And Balance

A person doing calisthenics outside

First of all, with a regular dumbbell bench press, you already have to be more conscious of your coordination to raise both weights at the same time and at the same speed.

But when you add a band into the mix, then that need for coordination and balance becomes more important [1].

That slight imbalance can then help to further activate more secondary muscles to help stabilize the movement.

Increased Muscle Activation

When you first start training with resistance bands, you should quickly notice that the strain on your muscles gradually increases as the tension gets stronger.

This can then help to achieve stronger muscle activation in more areas [2].

"Bands are a great tool for activation because they force us to move in a very controlled manner, which helps embed proper technique."
- Lauren Bedosky, Health & Fitness Journalist at

Read Also: Comparing Resistance Bands and Dumbbells for Workouts

Unique Tension Curve

When you exercise with bands, you don’t get a full load of resistance from the start.

Instead, you have a tension curve that gradually increases during the eccentric movement and then decreases during the concentric movement [3].

Intermediate Variation

A person lifting a barbell

Once you learn how to do banded dumbbell bench press exercises, it’s time to add a bit of variation and step things up.

What I have in mind here is to switch from workouts with dumbbells to using a barbell instead.

The idea is the same, but this time you're attaching the looped end behind the plates on each side of the bar.

The result is similar, but you should find that you can gradually increase the number of weight plates in your workouts and train your shoulders and pecs in a more intense way.

Learn More: A Guide to Choosing Between Barbells vs Dumbbells


What Is The Point Of Banded Bench Press?

The main point of a banded dumbbell bench press is to introduce gradually increasing resistance. As your hands get to the top of the movement, the strain will increase, and this can help with better muscle activation.

How Much Weight Does A Resistance Band Add To Bench Presses?

A resistance band can add up to 20% or more weight-equivalent load to bench presses. It all depends on the thickness and starting tension, and it’s something you should experiment with.

Start Adding Banded Workouts To Your Upper Body Routines


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