Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
May 28, 2023

Want a Big Chest?
Then Learn How To Do Heavy
Dumbell Bench Press On the Swiss Ball

By Nick Nilsson

Want a Big Chest?

There's a reason Monday is "Chest Day" in most gyms...it's a HUGE priority for most guys (and many gals!) and they want to do it when they've got the most energy fresh off a weekend.

Well, here's a bit of bad news...that flat barbell bench press you've been doing is NOT the best exercise for building a great chest. I reserve THAT title for the Dumbell Bench Press.

  • It's easier on the shoulders because you have more freedom of movement

  • Neither side can take over the movement because each arm operates independently

  • You can't mess up your grip spacing (actually a BIG problem with a lot of people on the barbell bench press)

There are other advantages but bottom line, in my opinion, the Dumbell Bench Press is absolutely superior to the Barbell Bench Press for chest development.

Now, if you've read any of my articles where I talk about the Dumbell Bench Press, you know I'm a BIG fan of doing the exercise on the Swiss ball rather than on an actual flat bench.

The reason is NOT because of the instability of the ball - that's incidental to me (though it is useful from a core-training perspective). The reason is because of the SHAPE of the ball (round, in case you were wondering... :)

With a round ball, you can wrap your back around the ball and better expand your rib cage. This helps keep your shoulders back, putting your pecs in a much better position to perform the exercise. If you can't feel much in your chest on the flat barbell bench, you need to use the Swiss ball NOW.

Want a Big Chest?

This tip is an explanation of how to best get the dumbells into position to do the exercise. I've been doing this exercise for a LOT of years and this is the best way, by far, I've found for getting the dumbells into position and performing the exercise.

Another good thing about the ball...I find it MUCH easier to work with heavy dumbells when on the ball. One thing you DEFINITELY want to make sure of before doing any heavy dumbell work on the ball is that you have a GOOD ball - no Wal-Mart el-cheapo "toning" ball here.

You want something that is thick rubber and anti-burst (meaning if it leaks, it's not going to pop - it'll just leak slowly, giving you time to set your weights down). Nothing good happens when a Swiss ball pops while you're under a big load.

So make sure your ball is good quality. Get yours from an actual training equipment like "Resist-A-Ball". I got my ball from SportSmith (that link goes to the exact ball I've got - you'll notice it's anti-burst).

Another good one is available through Power Systems, called the Power Versa Ball (rated to 2000 lbs).

So, once you've got your ball, grab some dumbells. Start with lighter dumbells at first - once you get the technique down, you can really get into some heavy weights. I'm using 125 lb dumbells in the demo here.

Set them a little in front of the ball and stand in between them.

Want a Big Chest?

Squat down and grab them like you're about to do a dumbell deadlift (which you are).

Want a Big Chest?

As you stand up, rest the ENDS of the dumbells on your thighs.

Want a Big Chest?

Now sit on the ball with the dumbell on end on your thighs.

Want a Big Chest?

Kick your right leg out until it's almost straight then kick your left leg out.

Want a Big Chest?

Want a Big Chest?

Now comes the FUN part...you're going to very quickly and forcefully roll yourself forward on the ball so that you're laying back. As you're forcefully laying back, lock your elbows so that you bring the dumbells with you as you lay back.

Want a Big Chest?

Continue their backward momentum and swing your elbows out to the sides until you're in the bottom position of the bench press.

Want a Big Chest?

Want a Big Chest?

Very quickly press the dumbells to the top, converting some of that backwards momentum into upwards force. You don't want to get stuck at the bottom.

Now you're at the top and ready to start your set! Do as many reps as you want to or are able to do.

When you've completed your set, you're ready to set the dumbells down again. Bring them in towards your chest (beside your chest, basically).

Want a Big Chest?

Now set them on the ground like you're doing a negative dumbell curl. Control the drop but don't try and actually do a real negative with heavy weights like this!

Want a Big Chest?

You're done! Simple and effective and, in my opinion, a whole lot better than doing them on a flat bench. Perform 3 sets of 5 to 7 reps with this exercise and don't be afraid to go heavy. For me, the Dumbell Bench Press on the Swiss Ball is a MUCH better chest developer than Flat Barbell Bench Press.




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