Use The Band Resisted Dumbbell Floor Press For Chest Growth and Strength Gains
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Accommodating Resistance in the form of bands and chains represents a great way to overload chest presses. Most lifters are familiar with this technique applied to barbells however it’s just as effective when applied to dumbbell presses. Simply place one band under your torso and loop the ends through your hands while performing dumbbell presses. Here’s one of my bodybuilder athletes Ben Lai demonstrating it on a dumbbell floor press.
This constant resistance not only creates greater intramuscular tension due to the band resistance but the continuous nature of the loading increases metabolic stress and muscular occlusion. The result is added strength and hypertrophy.
Besides providing increased tension throughout the movement and overloading the top contracted position (which typically involves minimal tension on most free weight chest presses) this technique helps dial in your pressing mechanics. Because of the exponentially increasing tension as you reach the top of the movement, this helps to ensure that the lifter does not excessively protract, over extend, or loose optimal shoulder positioning as it’s nearly impossible to lock out at the top. In essence, it forces the lifter to keep their shoulders packed. Besides doing wonders for chest growth it’s also very beneficial for upper body joint health.
The band resisted dumbbell chest press is also excellent for de-loading the bottom of the movement, which is where many individuals struggle to keep proper form. In fact a very common form mistake made by many lifters on dumbbell presses is they tend to overstretch or go too deep at the bottom-stretched position often times resulting in shoulder elevation, and internal rotation (both of which are not ideal in the bottom eccentric position). Because of the exponentially greater tension at the top of the movement, I’ve found this pressing variation helps hyperactivate the nervous system to the point that the heightened intramuscular tension and muscular stiffness needed to press the weight out keeps the lifter from losing tension during the eccentric phase. In other words, they’re less likely to collapse and relax their muscles at the bottom as their CNS is still in supercharge-mode as a result of overcoming the intense band resistance at the top.
You’ll also notice the band placement is under the mid/low back and under the armpits rather than the more common method of going around the shoulders and upper back. Placing the band towards the mid-lower back in contrast to the mid-upper back produces a better angle of pull against the arms and hands, thereby helping to facilitate better elbow tuck and depression of the scapula. Having the bands stretched across the upper back and inline with the shoulders, tends to promote an overly elevated shoulder position and lack of proper elbow tuck. This can facilitate scapular elevation and elbow flare, neither of which are desirable for producing size or optimizing shoulder health. To maximize functional size and joint health place the bands under the arms not over.
On a side note, this application can be applied to any dumbbell or kettlebell press including incline, flat, and floor press positions. However the floor press helps to further reinforce the idea of not collapsing and using excessive range of motion in the eccentric position.
Because of the increased tension throughout the movement these tend to be more strenuous on the central nervous system. Several sets of 5-8 reps is ideal for maximizing size while avoiding frying your CNS.