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Master The Dumbbell French Press – Learn Proper Form, Benefits And Variations

The biceps generally get a lot of attention when it comes to shaping your arms. But there’s another muscle group that deserves your attention, and it comes with a trifecta of benefits (hint, hint). This includes arm and shoulder stability, improved range of motion, and toned muscles. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re talking about the triceps. And this is where the dumbbell french press comes into picture which is one of the best ways to build this often-overlooked muscle

When it comes to creating stronger and larger arms the triceps is the muscle that should be given the most attention in the gym.

The dumbbell French press is a great triceps exercise to include in any strength-training routine, whether you’re an experienced weightlifter or a beginning lifter. Including the dumbbell French press in your training routine will help you gain muscle mass and, as a result, arm size.

The dumbbell French press works great at building triceps size and strength, and it is one of the few exercises that works all three heads of the muscle.

In this article we will discuss how to properly perform the exercise, muscles worked, benefits, drawbacks, and, variations.

What Is A Dumbbell French Press

A French press is a triceps-activating isolation exercise. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart to perform the French press exercise. Using an overhand grip, grab an angled EZ curl bar (palms facing away from your body).

A dumbbell French press, on the other hand, requires dumbbells rather than a fixed bar (also known as an EZ bar). Each of these variations has its own set of advantages.

Dumbbells help to relieve pressure on the elbow and provide a more equal workout. Instead of being dragged along for the entire set, each arm gets its own work.

Muscles Used In Dumbbell French Press

  • Target Muscle Group: Triceps
  • Exercise Type: Strength
  • Equipment Required: Barbell
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Force Type: Push
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Secondary Muscles: Lower-back muscles, glutes, core, pecs, and deltoids

How To Do Dumbbell French Press With Perfect Form

  • Begin by lying down on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand resting on your chest.
  • Squeeze the dumbbell handles hard and press them straight up in front of you.
  • Inhale deeply and slowly lower the weights while flexing your elbows and keeping them tight. Dumbbells will come to a halt just outside your ears.
  • Exhale and return the weights to the starting position, flexing your triceps and continuing to squeeze the dumbbells.

This variation is ideal for people who want to restrict the range of motion and perform each rep with the same amplitude. Plus, using dumbbells instead of a barbell is healthier for your elbows, so you may want to use this as a start. 

Benefits Of Dumbbell French Press

There are numerous benefits of including French presses in your weight-training routine.

  • Triceps muscles can be strengthened by French presses. The Dumbbell French press exercise focuses on the muscles on the backs of your arms, particularly the triceps long head.
  • Stabilization can be improved with the use of French presses. While performing French presses, the muscles in your upper and lower body are engaged, including your lower-back muscles, glutes, core, pecs, and deltoids.
  • French presses can improve other lifts. The French press can help you get better at other bodybuilding exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, close-grip bench presses, and push-ups with practice.

Drawbacks Of Dumbbell French Press

  • For beginners, the French Press might be challenging. If you’ve never worked out before or regularly miss arm day, French Press can be difficult to perform if you don’t maintain perfect form and stabilization.
  • The French Press exercise can cause major damage if performed incorrectly and without stimulating the muscle groups essential for optimal stabilization.
  • Heavy weights are not recommended for the French Press. You won’t be hitting numbers as high as your bench press or even a biceps curl and that’s acceptable. Attempting to lift big weights while performing the French Press can result in significant injury.

Dumbbell French Press Variations

Dumbbell French Press While Seated Or Standing

man performing Dumbbell French Press While Seated Or Standing

In this variation, the body is kept perpendicular to the floor, and the range of motion of hands is greater than when practicing the exercise lying down. Yes, you’ll lift less weight, yet the muscles will be loaded more forcefully due to the increased amplitude.

Alternate this performance with a bench option to place an unusual load on the muscles, which will aid to accelerate growth.

Raise the dumbbells to shoulder height. Lock your scapulars back and lower your shoulder blades. Lower the dumbbells behind your head to the back of your neck, then raise them to the starting position.

Single Arm Dumbbell French Press: Seated Or Standing

man performing single arm Dumbbell French Press While Seated Or Standing

This version gives you the most range of motion and connects the body stabilizers to perform more efficiently.

Maintain a rigid and solid body by keeping your abs firm and not bending your back. Straighten your arm to its full length while holding the dumbbell behind your head. Make sure to bend only at the elbow and avoid moving your shoulder. To keep your posture correct and your body ridged, you can also use your free hand to hold the side of your waist.

Single Dumbbell Two Arm Dumbbell French Press

man performing single dumbbell two hand dumbbell french press

The arms are kept closer together here, which changes the strain on the triceps slightly. The workout is more comfortable than doing it with a barbell owing to the lesser strain it places on elbow joints.

With both hands, grab the dumbbell by the weight plate and elevate it above your head. To begin, bend your elbows to place a strain on your triceps, then straighten them. Also, try not to move your shoulders, which should ideally remain in a stable position.

Dumbbell French Press On An Inclined Bench

man performing Dumbbell French Press on an incline bench

Many personal trainers and physical therapists advise doing the Dumbbell French Press on an incline bench because it prevents the elbows from spreading out to the sides and makes the activity safer for the shoulders.

This exercise can be done with one or two dumbbells. The rules are the same: extend your arms further behind your head, only bend at your elbows, and keep your shoulders still.

Take Away

If you want to bulk up your upper arms, focus more on the triceps than the biceps. Close-grip bench presses and dips are popular, yet neither produce the most triceps stimulation.

The triceps, particularly the long head of the triceps, are emphasized in the French Press exercise. The French Press is an excellent workout for developing your triceps if they are weak, as it targets the entire tricep.


Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant. He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.

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