Narrow Dumbbell Press-Up

Narrow Dumbbell Press-Up

The narrow dumbbell press-up is a combination of multiple modifications on the traditional press-up.

Its hybrid nature makes it one of the most dynamic exercises for quickly building the chest and triceps. It is most frequently implemented in athletic training or bodybuilding training.

Before, During, and After the Press-Up

To warm-up for the narrow dumbbell push-up, make sure that you are engaging your whole body. Doing a few minutes of jumping jacks should successfully do that, paired with classic back and arm combination stretches like child’s pose.

To start with this exercise, get two dumbbells, and move into a typical plank position. Your arms should be straight down at your shoulders, holding the dumbbells between them and the ground, and your back should be flat. Make sure your feet are hip-length apart. Then, adjust your hands, so they are closer, and only a few inches away from each other. This is your starting position.

When you are in this position, lower your body in a controlled manner until your chest is almost at the floor. The most important part of this exercise is maintaining control your entire time. If you are not in full control of your body, the exercise will not have the same impact. Make sure you are keeping your back straight, your butt down, and you feet even with your hips. When you have hit the lowest point in your decline, press your body back up in an explosive movement. To do this, you should be simultaneously engaging both your triceps and your chest.

The narrow aspect of this makes it a bit more complicated than your average push up, as does the dumbbell aspect. It makes you have to work even harder with your arms to support your body weight and targets your chest and triceps primarily. To get the full benefits of this, it is necessary to make sure that you are always in control of your entire body. Be aware of the muscles you are activating and when. Also, be mindful of the rest of your body to make sure your back isn’t drooping, and you are in alignment.

The Press-Up of Many Forms

There are many variations of this exercise, and this exercise is, in fact, a double variation of the traditional press up. Here are a few examples of variations that can be done of those seeking to engage slightly different muscles, or simplify the exercise:

  • Wide dumbbell press-up–This exercise is the same relative form, except, as the name implies, your hands should be wider than in the traditional press-up instead of narrower. The wide grip dumbbell press-up engages your shoulders more and focuses less on your chest.
  • Clap press-up–this is one of the more challenging variations. It allows you to strengthen your explosiveness and sheer power. It takes the form and stance of a traditional press-up, except you should push yourself into the air with just your arms high enough so that you can clap before landing back down. The landing should be controlled, as opposed to the dynamo of the jump.
  • One-leg dumbbell press-up–this variation specifically engages the core even more. It also can improve balance and force you to really keep the rest of your body in check while doing a regular dumbbell press-up. It is also effective if you have one leg that is stronger than the other, as it lets you target one leg specifically.


This exercise is a dynamic double-variation on a classic pose and is used both by athletes and in fitness classes. It is not for beginners and is meant for those looking to enhance and deepen their workout to build up their pectoral muscles and triceps even faster.

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