The Ultimate Chest Press For Massive Pectorals
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Key Point: Try combining the dumbbell squeeze press with accommodating resistance in the form of bands. Not only will it blast your chest, shoulders, and triceps but it will also provide a nice boost for your bench press while de-loading your joints.
The dumbbell squeeze press has recently gained quite a bit of popularity in the fitness industry as it provides an effective way to target the chest with more tension. However, another technique that’s recently become more commonplace is the use of accommodating resistance with dumbbell presses typically involving a band behind the back while pressing the weights. Fortunately we can combine both of these methods together and perform a dumbbell squeeze press with accommodating band resistance as I show in this video.
There are five key benefits of this:
1. The squeeze press relies primarily on increased intramuscular tension, constant tension, and metabolic stress to produce a strong hypertrophy stimulus. Unfortunately the top portion of the movement minimizes these mechanisms as it provides a slight rest or relaxation phase for the muscles. That’s because the dumbbells can essentially rest against each other requiring very little work from the pectorals as well as the assisting triceps and shoulders. Adding accommodating resistance solves this issue as the press actually gets more and more difficult the higher you press the weight. In fact the amount of mechanical tension within the chest towards the top half of the movement is difficult to replicate with other isolation movements (i.e. chest flyes), not to mention standard compound movements (i.e. chest presses). As a result the hypertrophy stimulus is incredible.
2. This dumbbell squeeze press with bands not only annihilates the pectorals but it also crushes the triceps and shoulders. In fact, the triceps particularly the lateral head, which is critical for a bigger bench press, gets absolutely hammered in this variation. Try using this exercise for several weeks and watch both your chest growth and bench press numbers significantly increase.
3. Because of the ultra close grip on the squeeze press, this can periodically cause the front deltoids to get slightly inflamed often as a result of excessive elbow flare. Not only does this squeeze press variation force the elbows to stay tight and eliminate elbow flare but it also deloads the bottom position slightly which is where the shoulders tend to get the most banged up during squeeze presses.
4. The squeeze press is typically thought of as a bodybuilding isolation movement. However, when performed with accommodating resistance it actually requires significant neural drive and explosive power to blast through the enormous tension produced from the bands. As a result this squeeze press variation not only isolates the targeted musculature with more constant tension but it also reinforces powerful pressing mechanics and explosive activation of fast twitch muscle fibers. In other words, whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, or athlete, this exercise will provide numerous benefits.
5. Similar to the above point, this squeeze press not only crushes the chest fibers to a greater degree than standard squeeze presses but it actually requires full body activation to help blast through the sticking point. In fact you’ll notice from the video I’m actually having to engage the glutes and drive with my legs significantly (arguably a bit excessively) to help press the weight up. In other words the squeeze press with band resistance is a full body press while still emphasizing chest growth.
Regressions and Progressions
If you’re unfamiliar with the using accommodating resistance in conjunction with dumbbells I recommend starting with more standard variations (with the dumbbells separated) as demonstrated by one of my NFL athletes Jarius Wynn.
In addition, I would suggest becoming efficient with traditional dumbbell squeeze presses first before adding band tension. Here’s one of my awesome clients Matt Jordan demonstrating a brutal drop set variation of the traditional squeeze press on a slight incline.
Once you’ve mastered all of these variations you can actually isolate the chest further by implementing the anti-fly press protocol with the squeeze press. The main difference between this variation and the accommodating resistance from the bands is that the anti-fly press purely isolates the chest fibers due to the force vectors that are working to abduct the arms and must be resisted throughout. In contrast, the accommodating resistance version with the band around the back involves more vertical force vectors thereby engaging your secondary pressing muscles such as the triceps, shoulders, and lats. Learn more about the anti-fly chest press here.
It should be noted that the accommodating resistance squeeze press variation with the bands does involve a slight anti-fly component. However, it's simply not quite as strong as when the bands or cables are anchored more laterally away from the body such as during the actual anti-fly presses involving significant abduction forces.
If you really want to get crazy try performing this sandwich squeeze press with a bumper plate as demonstrated by one of my awesome bodybuilding athletes Ben Lai. Just be prepared for a monster burn throughout your entire chest.
Lastly, big shoutout to Kelvin King Jr. who recently showcased a kettlebell fly variation using the same type of accommodating band resistance (with the bands behind the back).
If you really want to blast your chest try super-setting the banded squeeze press with the banded chest fly that he advocates as this will provide an enormous hypertrophy stimulus for the lats.