DB Bench Progression

An anatomical drawing of a person performing the DB Bench Press highlighting the muscles worked.

The DB Bench is a very common exercise in most strength and conditioning programs.

Because wrestling is a sport of pulling, I don’t put as much of an emphasis on pressing strength.

However, I normally still have the wrestlers I work with use some kind of a DB Press in their training programs.

Here’s the progression I follow and the variations I use.

Progression 1

The first stage/progression is performing the actual DB Bench Press:

Just with any other exercise- focus on developing consistency with each rep before increasing the weight. Technique is very important on the wrestling mat and it’s equally important in the weight room.

You can also experiment with the DB Floor Press:

One reason I like the Floor Press is that it places less stress on the shoulders. Almost every wrestler I’ve ever worked with has expressed that they’ve experienced pain/discomfort in their shoulders at some point. So I personally don’t see an reason why I should add extra stress to this joint.

Another reason I like the Floor Press is that it allows the lifter to pause at the bottom. This lets the person get a better idea of how their arm/elbow position can impact their pressing strength.

If you find yourself gravitating toward the Floor Press, consider trying a Paused DB Bench:

Progression 2

There are a number of progressions/adjustments you can make once you have mastered the lifts above.

The next 3 exercises are in no particular order. If you’re looking for something different and a bit more challenging, give these a shot.

The first is the Single Arm DB Bench (this video has an added pause, but you get the idea):

You can also try different Alternate Arm Press variations.

Here’s an Alternate Arm DB Bench:

And here’s a Dr. Mike DB Bench (I named them after my buddy, Dr. Mike, who introduced me to this variation):

Additionally, there are other ways to adjust the variations above.

1. Perform the exercise on the floor.

2. Perform the press at different angles (incline and decline).

If your shoulders are banged up I’d definitely favor DB Decline Presses and DB Floor Presses.

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


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