Tip: The Complete Chest Exercise

This pressing variation trains both functions of the chest for complete pec development. Check it out.

The dumbbell squeeze press is one of my favorite exercises for anyone looking to make their pecs more "pecy."

I've long been a champion of dumbbells over barbells for pec development. Barbells are fine and dandy – especially since they allow lifters to use more weight – but they're limited in their ability to fully target the area. It's basic anatomy.

The pectorals, specifically the pec major, both flexes (clavicular head) and adducts (sternal head) the humerus. Yes, I realize it does other stuff too (it internally rotates the humerus and anteriorly tilts the scapulae), so to keep the insufferable anatomy nerds from having a conniption, there you go. If chest size is your goal, pressing with a barbell can be limiting because it only works one function of the pecs... humeral flexion.

The dumbbell squeeze press, on the other hand, incorporates both functions. You're pressing, but because you're actively squeezing the dumbbells together (hard) throughout the duration of the set, you're really kicking things up a notch.

How to Use It

I'll typically use this exercise as an accessory movement on bench day, after I bench:

  • A. Bench press (work up to a heavy triple, or something).
  • B. Take 10-15% off that number and do 3-4 more sets of triples.
  • C. Dumbbell squeeze press, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

Now, we COULD make the case that using an incline targets the upper chest area more, but I'd just make an effort to switch it up every so often: incline, flat, decline, whatever. Your pecs should be able to cut diamonds now.