How To Perform A Dumbbell Hex Press For More Chest Growth
The dumbbell hex press or “squeeze press”, as it is sometimes known, is one of those rarely used exercises that deserves way more attention. Especially if you are training for bodybuilding or aesthetic purposes, the hex press needs to be considered.
After all, everybody wants to build a more impressive set of pectoral muscles. A chiselled, well-built chest is key to attaining a balanced physique; it will also help you bench press more weight.
Usually, when people are looking to switch up their chest training, different angled bench presses and flies is the direction they take. Not looking outside of standard bench press and fly movements can limit your chest gains.
If you really want to change things up and take your chest training to the next level, you should think about adding in some new exercises. Using an exercise that you haven’t really put any focus on before can lead to some great early gains as a result of your body quickly adapting to the novelty of a new movement.
As you have probably guessed, I recommend the dumbbell hex press as the chest exercise you probably aren’t doing but should be. Later on in this article, I will give you a step-by-step guide on how to perform the hex press correctly. First, I want you to be confident that hex presses are going to be a good addition to your routine.
Benefits Of The Dumbbell Hex Press
So that you can be sure you are making the right decision by including this exercise in your program for the coming weeks, I have outlined the main advantages of the hex press in a list below.
1. Extra Chest Tension
The nature of performing the hex press requires you to force two dumbbells together at all times throughout the movement. This essentially means that you are putting tension on your chest for the entire exercise; there is no point of rest.
During a standard bench press or even fly, there is a point of rest at the very top of each rep. At this point, the weights are stacked directly above your wrists, elbows and shoulders, which means your bones are supporting most of the weight and little work needs to be done by your chest.
During the hex press, you keep tension firmly on your chest during the entire rep by forcing the dumbbells together. One of the functions of your chest is to bring your arms across your body, which is what you are effectively trying to do when you squeeze those dumbbells together.
As you probably know, more tension has the potential to lead to more muscle micro-tearing and more growth.
2. Stronger Contraction
This benefit follows on from the point above since it comes directly as a result of forcing the dumbbells together. I already mentioned that doing this creates more tension throughout each rep but it also helps with a harder contraction at the top of each rep.
Many times, lifters fail to really engage and feel their chest working properly during their pressing exercises. Beginner lifters, in particular, struggle with the feeling of flexing their pectorals unless they are doing flies.
Flies help with the feeling of tensing and contracting your chest because it is much easier to do so when your arms are closer together. The only downside is that the amount of weight you can use on fly movements is rather limited.
Using the hex press, on the other hand, allows you to use much heavier weights and still get the intense contraction at the top of each rep like you would get with a dumbbell fly. You get the best of both worlds.
3. Easier On The Shoulders
If you have been going to the gym for a while, you have probably come across somebody that can no longer bench press properly because they have injured their shoulders. It’s an extremely common complaint that can be very debilitating and limiting for the rest of your training.
More often than not, the shoulder problems are caused by excessive elbow flaring during pressing movements. This is something that is eliminated straight away with the hex press.
As a result of being forced to keep the dumbbells pressed together, you naturally decrease elbow flare and put your shoulders in a much safer position. If you focus on keeping your chest out and shoulder blades retracted, you can lessen the risk of shoulder injuries even further.
4. Great Triceps Workout
I know this isn’t directly a benefit to your chest building goals but I still think it’s more than welcome. The neutral grip and tucked elbow position of a hex press will really hammer your triceps muscles as well as your chest.
The hand position is similar to what you would use for a close grip bench press, which is an excellent chest and triceps builder.
Building big triceps not only makes your arms more impressive but will actually enhance your pressing. Therefore, your chest training will benefit later down the road as a result of the stronger pressing.
5. Skin-splitting Pumps
Let’s face it, everyone loves the feeling of blood rushing to their target muscles and feeling the tightness of “the pump”. It doesn’t just feel good, though, the pump creates metabolic fatigue, which is a factor in muscle growth.
The dumbbell hex press is a sure-fire way to increase the pump during your chest workouts. Again, it comes down to the constant tension and hard contraction that you get from pushing the dumbbells together.
After a couple of sets, your pecs will feel like two balloons have been stuck to your rib cage.
How To Perform A Dumbbell Hex Press
The hex press is actually a relatively simple movement to perform, which isn’t usually the case for compound exercises. Here is the step-by-step guide:
- Grab a bench and set it to flat or a slight incline if you wish to emphasize your upper chest a bit more.
- Take two dumbbells and start with them pressed together using a neutral/hammer grip (palms facing inwards). Hexagon shaped dumbbells are preferred if you have them since they are easier to press together, hence the name “hex press”.
- Lie back on the bench with the dumbbells still pressed together and resting on your chest.
- Keeping the weights firmly together, press the straight out in front of your chest.
- Lower the weights under control, with them still pressed together, and repeat for the next rep.
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Final Thoughts And Tips
I am pretty confident that the list of advantages above will persuade you to at least give the hex press a try in your chest workouts. I would suggest that you add it in after your main pressing movements so that you do not limit the weight you can use on those by fatiguing yourself.
This exercise works great in the slightly higher rep ranges of 8 and above. The focus should be only really feeling that chest contraction, which means sacrificing a little bit of weight for a better technique is fine.
Now, all that is left is for you to give the hex press a try on your next chest workout and make sure you let me know how it feels in the comments section below. I know you will love the pump from this one so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.