How Much Can I Bench Based On Dumbbell Press? ( Real Answers From Actual Weightlifters)


lifting bench press dumbbell press

There are many instances when you want to know how it transfers from one workout to another. Maybe you have upgraded your home gym went from just having dumbbells to a power rack, olympic weights and olympic barbell which is great.

Or maybe you have been going to gym and ready to up your game to the barbell bench press and don't want to make any mistakes then you are definitely in the right location for your answer.

So how much can you bench based solely on your dumbbell press? 

As a beginner you don't want to push it to heavy too early. You should be able to do more on barbell press vs dumbbell. There is no exact conversion so you should start at around 60% of your max on dumbbells with barbell. So if your max is 80lb dumbbells (80X2=160lb total) start with around 100 lbs so your olympic bar (45lbs) with a 25lb weight on each side. This should be pretty easy then scale up in 10-20 lb increments from here. 

This is a great start if you can do the 100lbs for 20 reps then increase by 20 lbs (10 each side) do the same and keep repeating until you get to around 5-8 reps. Don't do more then this especially without a spotter.

Read further as we discuss the method to make extreme gains on your bench press coming from dumbbell presses.

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Dumbbell To Barbell Bench Press Conversion

There is no exact conversion for dumbbells to barbell bench press however you can get a somewhat rough number to start with and it can be fun to try and predict your max just start light to be safe.

Dumbbells chest press and barbell bench press are two different types of workouts but most always you will be able to lift more on barbell bench press. This is because you don't have two stabilize two different weights your body is working together to stabilize one weight which equals more balance and more behind the push.

I have seen people that bench press 300+ lbs but can't even get up 100lb dumbbells during their press. If you are only doing dumbbell presses you should definitely mix in bench press at some point and still do your dumbbell presses.

Most people will start with barbell flat bench press either pyramid training or just something like 5 sets of 10 reps. Then they will go onto dumbbell chest exercises like incline dumbbell press, dumbbell fly's and dumbbell pullovers then maybe some weighted dips which is a great workout routine. However at some point you may hit a plateau that is when you want to switch it up and maybe start with dumbbell flat presses then maybe do barbell incline press and decline press.

If you have done barbell presses and are comfortable start with your max on dumbbells your pectoral muscles when used together can push more then when they are moving weights independently this is a proven fact. If you are nervous just make sure you have a spotter there or maybe even use the smith machine even though that still won't convert well to barbell press.

guy in t shirt benching

Average Dumbbell Bench Press Weight To Barbell Press Calculation

Here are some answers from forums we have gathered that will help you predict what you can lift from those that have done so in the gym and at home. We gathered these from bodybuilding.com and other fitness sites and blogs from actual users.

How Much Can I Barbell Press If I can Dumbbell Bench Press XX?

  1. Bullybreed – “I really dont think there is any way to tell that its a totally different exercise in my opinion even though it works the same muscle I can rep 225 for 6 reps, but I can only do 80lbs right now on db's for 6 reps and if you multiply 80×2 its 160lb so really doesn't compare?”
  2. kEEnan6 – “Start light and move up, best way to get your question answered.”
  3. Lasharm –“Those are 2 different exercises. Dumbbell presses use more stabilizer muscles.Some people I have seen in the gym can bench 250 but can hardly get 90lbs in each hand up while others have scores within 10-20lbs of their bench score.I recommend alternating both bench press and dumbbell press. You will be able to go for high weight with the bench press and make sure your stabilizers stay maintained with the dumbbells.”
  4. Bullbreed – (another answer) “Ya best way is just to try it, nobody is gettin on ur case for using db's i actually prefer them over regular bb bench, feel I gain alot more from it.”
  5. Acerockolla – “IMO this is the best answer. I worked up to (6 weeks) a max of 6 reps with 65 dumbells, and the next week I switched to barbell and I could only do 130, which, oddly enough is the sum of the two dumbbells i had benched the week before. I'm sure in 6 weeks I'll have a similar level of progression in the barbell bench as I did with the dumbell.”
  6. jack_of_all – “Have a spotter ready and try 135, i think it'd be pretty challenging for you but doable. One plate per side aint much, but it's a place to start, and based on a 110lb x 6-7 predicted lift (generally i find 3×5 is about a 6rm) it is reasonable.”
  7. Skigazzi -“I can actually DB press more than I bench, at least in terms of reps (DB's only go to 115 in my gym, I can bench 230 about 4 times, but DB Press 115's 6+)BB Bench has never been my best movement for some reason.”
  8. pFuzzz – “I find that there's a direct correlation between the amount you can bench and the number of pounds on a barbell that you can lay flat on your back and push from a point on or just above your chest to the point where your arms are fully extended.”
  9. hinkson1230 – “you should beable to bench more than the dumbells combined. you wont be using as many of your smaller muscles, “stabilizers”. i can barbell 100lb an arm, and bench 250.”
  10. blacllk8cs – “I workout with 60-70lb dumbells, just depends on how I feel for 3×8-10 reps. My one rep max on bench is 245lb. I would say you can do 135 for 10.”
  11. Travismheller – “Completely different exercises. Some people are really good at dumbells where others are better at barbell.Like everyone elese that replied, the best option is to start off light around 145 and build up till you get a comfortable weight you can do for 3×5.”
  12. Papi93 (BEST ANSWER) – “Many people ask what they should be able to dumbbell chest press, based off of their bench press poundage. If you don't have difficulty with the neuromuscular coordination aspect, and your stabilizers are strong enough, Charles Poliquin says “you should be able to do 90% of the barbell bench press weight when doing semi-supinated dumbbell presses. In other words, if you bench 200 pounds, you should be able to press a pair of 90 pounds (2 x 90 = 180 pounds, which is 90% of 200 pounds).”
  13. The Real Deal – “the general idea is combined db should be slightly lower than bb. however how much lower vary person to person. only way is to find out.”
  14. Butthash – “When I first switch from doing Bench press to dumbbell presses I went from working out with a 195 lb barbell to using 30 lb dumbbells. I did increase my volume at the same time, so that has something to do with it. Either way it was a humbling experience. Once my stablizers caught up I was quickly able to get up to using 70 lbs dumbbells though.”
  15. BodybuildingMd –“It is important to realize that if you've been using either dumbells or barbells almost exclusively then when you switch over you will feel uncoordinated for a while.For instance I was using 135 DB's for 6 reps on incline dumbell bench press, but when I switched overall to incline barbell I could only handle 275 x 5 reps. It took me about a month, but once I was used to the movement I was moving 315 on the incline.The point is there isn't some kind of equation or general trend. Both exercises work the same muscle, but in different ways.”
  16. Tnubs – “i think alot of it too is getting the weights into position to press. i could do literally 10lb heavier dumbells no problem if i could only get them to my chest. i stopped doing barbell benching a while back after i plateau'd and i feel it in my chest alot more like this.”
  17. LAWofNJ – “Well it depends on the person. My friend can do maybe 205 on the bench press, but on the dumbbell press, he cant even do 60's……
    I can do around 225 x 3 on bench press, and on flat db press; 90 x 7.
  18. Andrew.Cook – (VERY IN DEPTH ANSWER) “I would say that I have found that dumbells present a different strength dropoff than bench press. I certainly don't train dumbells all that often, and I can hold my own (110's for incline db), but I've always found them to be far more difficult to do than bench. With a barbell bench in the mid 300's I should be db pressing somewhere in the 270+ range. First off, I have no ability to get that kind of weight up to pressing position. I have no fancy hooks and at this point it is hard enough to get 110lbs to chest on an incline. Flat may be easier to negotiate… I forget I guess that overall I'm not THAT far off the mark, but it seems that because dumbells don't progress in small increments (smallest jump I can make is from 110lb to 120lb dumbells. Not even a 115 which would still be a big 10lb jump total), it is even harder to effectively train to increase strength. I've toyed with the idea of buying my own handles that will accept olympic weights, but even then I would really need fractional plates to thoughtfully train up a lot of strength.”
  19. Getlean – “i dumbell press 80s but bench 195-205 i have a friend who dumbell presses 85s but benchs 235-245. point being, everyone is different and generally if your new at either type of bench then it will be relatively weaker. If someone is trying to dumbell bench for the first time i would suggest they try using 1/3 of their barbell bench weight and then work their way up. Ie. if you bench 180lbs, grab some 60lbs dumbells.”
  20. Charlie Brown – “I dont think 90% More like 80-85”
  21. Stealth_swimmer – “‘m not sure about the whole percentage thing. I use both barbell and dumbell quite frequently. Since I'm not there to do math, one good (and fast) rule of thumb I use is that whatever I do with a barbell, I find half that amount and subtract 20. Then I use that number for each dumbell. It's usually enough to give me a good workout, but if it's too light, then I raise the weight.*Example: Bench=185 so half is around 90….minus 20 means 70. Therefore I will use 70 pounds for each dumbell.”

Related Questions

Can You Bench More With Dumbbell Or Barbell?

Most all the time you should be able to barbell bench press more then you can dumbbell press. This is simply because you have both your pectoral muscles pushing one weight where dumbbells you are pushing independently. Also you have to consider dumbbells you usually have to lift off the ground where barbell you have on an elevated rack.

What Weight Should I start Bench Pressing?

This is a hard question to answer with too many variables however an easy way to start is just with the barbell (45lbs) do around 10-20 reps then increase in 10 lbs increments until you get to where you are only doing 8-10 reps as far as if you are beginner and 5-8 if you are intermediate.

Are Dumbbells Harder To Bench?

Dumbbells are harder to bench normally since you have too stabilize two different weights independently and with a barbell you are using your two pectoral muscles to push one stabilized weight.

Should I Do Dumbbell Press And Bench Press?

Yes you should mix in both dumbbell press and barbell bench press. This will help increase your strength overall and be able to break through plateaus when needed. Now if you only have dumbbells it is fine to stick with them until you reach a plateau then switch it up and work in those barbell presses.

guy in red shirt dumbbell press

Final Thoughts

So as you can see there is no exact science to calculating your barbell bench press based of your dumbbell press. But you can figure it out easily by starting light on your bench press and increasing from there. This is the most efficient way to figure this out. So take your time be safe when you start getting up there in weight make sure you have a spotter.

As you can see from there answers above there is ways to calculate or come up with an educated answer just make sure you start lighter then the 90% at first. It can be fun to try and predict this.

There are anomalies as you can see from some of the answers where some people actually lift more with dumbbells then they do with bench press. Which for me is actually mind blowing and doesn't make sense except with muscle memory. Your body and muscles get used to anything that is why it is always a great idea to switch your routine up every once in awhile and that goes for your dieting as well. Hope this was a great read if you have more to add make sure you send us an email at admin@healthyforbetter.com

If you are looking for some great deals on dumbbells or barbells make sure you check out used equipment first like on the facebook marketplace there is always cheap stuff on there and craigslist. If you want to go new don't skimp on Walmart they have pretty good equipment with free shipping when ordered online. Also Amazon has some great deals going with their prime shipping where you can get 200lbs of dumbbells for a pretty good price.

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