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  1. #1
    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    dumbbell bench to barbell bench conversion

    Hi. Is there a general way to convert what I bench with dumbbells to what I could possibly bench with barbell weight? For instance, my current bench workout is:
    1st set: two 100lbs dumbbells - 10 reps
    2nd set: two 100lbs dumbbells - 8 reps
    3rd set: two 110lbs dumbbells - 3 reps
    Generally, how would this convert over to barbell weight if I wanted to have the same intensity level?
    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    veggie eggy eggy_wont_grow's Avatar
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    i reckon itd be a little over doube 1 db weight. just get on a bench, under a bb and check. have a spotter if ur unsure of the weight

    got a spotter?
    got ____?
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    Registered User DaRkShaDE's Avatar
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    well, obviously if you are strong with dumbbells you will at least be moderately strong with barbell as well. but you really gotta understand that for this exercise in particular there is truly no equation. ive seen guys chest press simliar poundages in both lifts (despite dumbbells generaly being much more difficult) merely because their past workouts favor dumbbells. likewise, i know guys in my gym who can barbell bench press 50 more pounds than i can, yet we are just about equal on a dumbbell chest press



    all that you can really do is go and find out and have a spotter for sure
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    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    No, I don't. That's why I'm concerned.
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  5. #5
    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    Wait. Are you saying that my barbell bench would be double the weight of one of the dumbbells? Isn't that the same as saying that it would equal my dumbbell bench press?
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    if ur dumbell pressing 100s (200lbs total) id say try for 300 bench

    i use 50lb dumbells for sets of 8 and when i bench press i use 150lbs

    how do you not have a spotter? nobody at your gym would give u a spot? or do you just have a sick home gym that has 100lbs dbs
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  7. #7
    Registered User Duggan18's Avatar
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    if you've never done barbell bench you won't be able to nearly as much as you should be able to do compared to what you do with dumbells.
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    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    I've got a full set of dumbbells in my garage - no gym membership. The problem is that I jump from 100 to 110 to 120. I don't have 5 lbs increments like with the lower weights. I can't quite make the leap to doing a single with the 120s (240lbs). It sticks to my chest.

    But I have a barbell bench press. So I wanted to find what weight I could use to incrementally push beyond this sticking point, and then go back and kick the asses on those 120s.

    Call it ego, but I really want that goal!!!
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    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    Wait. Your saying that I will do LESS with barbells? That doesn't make sense physiologically. The barbell is easier since it takes advantage of bilateral stabilization. I haven't barbell pressed in a few years since I've been slowly working up my strength with the dumbbells to recover from a shoulder injury. Now my shoulders are strong as heck. But I can't get over this hump between the 110s and the 120s.

    So I was going to use the barbell as an assistance lift.
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    Originally Posted by jimmylee
    Wait. Your saying that I will do LESS with barbells? That doesn't make sense physiologically. The barbell is easier since it takes advantage of bilateral stabilization. I haven't barbell pressed in a few years since I've been slowly working up my strength with the dumbbells to recover from a shoulder injury. Now my shoulders are strong as heck. But I can't get over this hump between the 110s and the 120s.

    So I was going to use the barbell as an assistance lift.
    no. just less compared what you can do on dumbells. lets say (just estimating/guessing) that if you can do 100lb dumbells in each hand for 10reps, that you can bench 300lbs for 2 reps.

    BUT, since you've never done barbell bench (right?), you will probably only be able to do like 200-250max.

    but then again, im not nearly as strong as you, but this is how it works for me. but after a few weeks you should be up to speed with your barbell bench press
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    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    So, you're saying that there will be a short 'adaptation period' for the skill, and then it will start to climb numbers fast towards the actual raw strength max. Hmmm... That sounds feasible. Thanks.

    But in general (skill acquisition aside) then you think that the conversion of raw strength from dumbbell to barbell is about 1.5X?
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    Registered User Duggan18's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jimmylee
    So, you're saying that there will be a short 'adaptation period' for the skill, and then it will start to climb numbers fast towards the actual raw strength max. Hmmm... That sounds feasible. Thanks.

    But in general (skill acquisition aside) then you think that the conversion of raw strength from dumbbell to barbell is about 1.5X?
    im not sure. but i have a friend who can bench press 365 for 1 rep max, and did 80lb dumbells for 20reps. i do 60lb dumbells for 8-10 reps, and have a 205barbell max.
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  13. #13
    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    I've done my 90s for 25 reps but it started to aggrivate my shoulders, so I dropped down in volume. Hmmm...

    So you think about 1.7X, so in my case, you think my 1RM may be about 340lbs.
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  14. #14
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    I can do 90's for 4 reps but I can barely do 200.

    Rite now i cant do any barbell tho cuz of my wrist bein ****ed, but i used to do about that much for bb.
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  15. #15
    mmm...steak IeatSteak's Avatar
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    dumbbell conversion to barbell is the sum of the dumbbell weight plus 30 pounds.

    For example, if someone is benching 100 pound dumbbells, that person is benching 230 pounds...100x2=200+30=230.
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    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    Can you explain the rationale behind the +30lbs, please? That doesn't really sound intuitive.
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    mmm...steak IeatSteak's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jimmylee
    Can you explain the rationale behind the +30lbs, please? That doesn't really sound intuitive.
    It's not a number I just threw up. I read it somewhere, tested it out, and it was quite accurate.
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    Registered User DaRkShaDE's Avatar
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    there is no way to tell how much you will barbell bench just from dumbbells if you have never used barbell before. there is no equation. if several people were to stress both exercises evenly im sure there would be relative consistency but im uncertain what the ratio would be
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    Registered User DaRkShaDE's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by IeatSteak
    It's not a number I just threw up. I read it somewhere, tested it out, and it was quite accurate.



    logically, it makes no sense and if it was accurate for you it does not mean it will be for someone else who is stronger/weaker or emphasizes one of the exercises more or less than you do
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    Thumbs down

    Originally Posted by DaRkShaDE
    logically, it makes no sense and if it was accurate for you it does not mean it will be for someone else who is stronger/weaker or emphasizes one of the exercises more or less than you do
    what the ****? not true...everyone knows that equation. and plus, dumbbell and barbell bench has almost the same range of motion.
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    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    I believe you read it somewhere and tested it out. That's why I asked the rationale behind it. Too many times we are instructed out of some 'guru's' whacko idea that this is what we should be able to lift, and they dont give you any reason behind it. As a result, tons of guys are out there stuck at the wall of what one guy happened to BELIEVE to be his potential.
    However, if something has a scientific rationale behind it, then it's understandable, researchable. I've read alot, been training for awhile. But am not familiar with any conversion table, which is why I asked everyone's opinion. Your's seems to be very low-ball, and not "scaled" (since strength increases by percentage, rather than a static add-on.)

    Anyway, the other guys here have proven that number to be too low... and on average 1.5 times higher. 30lbs is not sufficient to account for the dramatic carryover when moving from unilateral to bilateral stabilization.
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    Registered User DaRkShaDE's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheNextBigThing
    what the ****? not true...everyone knows that equation. and plus, dumbbell and barbell bench has almost the same range of motion.


    if you had experience with this youd probably know that despite the range of motion, the exercises can seem quite different. so lemme get this straight, a person who can lift the 30 lb dumbbells once can bench 90 lbs, and a person who lifts the 150 lb dumbbells benches 330?


    the first one can bench 50% more, and the second can only bench 10% more?
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  23. #23
    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    I'm not here to debate which is superior - barbell or dumbbell bench press. Bottom line is that dumbbell lifts require superior stabilization and motor control than the same lift secured between both hands - the barbell. If that weren't the case, then the number would be lower, not higher.

    If "everyone knows" that conversion rate, then why only one out of 10 people here have heard of it? And its the first time I've ever heard of such an add-on.
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    Registered User jimmylee's Avatar
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    Darkshade, exactly my problem with it.
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    If you've never done barbell bench, or haven't done so for a good many months, your barbell may actually be lower then your dumbell press. The ROM is completely different. On a DB press your hands aren't always the same length apart. It varies at the top an bottom of the movement. On a BB press, your grip is fixed, at say shoulder width, and never changes. BB press also usually incorporates more tricep use then the DB press. The form takes a bit to get used to if you don't ruitinely alternate between the two.


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    edit] i just realized i was reading the teen forum so of course half the people are full of ****, ill just get rid of what i said, i dont wanna get in a flame war with some 12 year old kid making up stats
    Last edited by Crimson_Feury; 09-21-2004 at 05:27 PM.
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    The only people in here that know what they are talking about, are those who agree there is no way to tell.
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    The only way you will be able to tell is by trying

    I went from 40s to 70s on DB and when I went back to barbell I could do like, 10 pounds more than when I originally started.

    barbell is supposed to be easier, but if you always do DB, you aren't going to be a barbell powerhouse
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    Registered User 9ball's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Swole4Life
    The only people in here that know what they are talking about, are those who agree there is no way to tell.
    Amen to that. The barbell and dumbell motions for me at least seem to be at a world of difference. I used to only barbell bench and could do 295x3. When I stopped barbell presses and went to dumbells, 55's were hard for me. Once the stabilizer muscles became stronger I was able to quickly increase my lifts. Before I quit doing them, my dumbell lifts were 80x12/90x9/100x6. I recently stopped using dumbells for a PLing regimen. Thought I could be able to do what I had previously done...all my muscles were still getting worked and now I have strong stabilizer muscles right?! WRONG! I had trouble getting 225 up more than 12x. After that, I needed a spot to get my 4th of 245 up! The truth is, the barbell bench press is not a supreme chest exercise. There are many other muscle groups, such as the shoulders, triceps, back, etc that play a role in a barbell bench press that aren't activated nearly as much as with dumbell presses. Don't know how much truth there is to that but I felt that it wasn't my chest that wasn't strong enough to put up this weight, but the supporting muscle groups that had become weaker. When I go back to body building, I will incorporate both into my routine.
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    Originally Posted by 9ball
    The truth is, the barbell bench press is not a supreme chest exercise. There are many other muscle groups, such as the shoulders, triceps, back, etc that play a role in a barbell bench press that aren't activated nearly as much as with dumbell presses. Don't know how much truth there is to that but I felt that it wasn't my chest that wasn't strong enough to put up this weight, but the supporting muscle groups that had become weaker. When I go back to body building, I will incorporate both into my routine.
    Big f-cking bump.

    Kinda sucked didn't it? There were skinny guys lifting more on the DB press then me when I first experimented with DB.



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