When I was learning how to bench press properly for powerlifting this is the movement that helped me the most with learning proper elbow travel.
Palms-In Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
If you’re benching with your elbows flared wide then expect an eventual rotator cuff or pec tear. Tucking the elbows, at least to some degree, allows you to load the upper back and lats as support for the bench press.
A Break for Powerlifters and PR Chasers
Dumbbell bench pressing also gives the joints a bit of a break because you’re not locked in to the barbell. The shoulders, elbows, and wrists get quite a bit more play during the range of motion. For the powerlifter who has achy shoulders and elbows, which is just about all of them, taking a break from the bar and using dumbbells for a while can alleviate some of those problems.
Stabilizers, Sets, and Reps
The dumbbell bench press means the stabilizers have to work a bit harder due to balancing the dumbbells. During the hypertrophy phase the palms-facing dumbbell bench press offers up a lot of bang for the buck. Try this:
- Set 1: 8 reps
- Set 2: 15 reps
- Set 3: 25 reps
Take each set to failure and go as heavy as possible.