Fitness tip - Dumbbell pinch press

Fitness tip - Dumbbell pinch press

by Evigan Xiao 02 Jan 2020

Do you know what’s a lousy feeling to have? Going to the same gym with your buddy, using the same equipment, performing the same workout, but ending the session with only one of you having an awesome pump. Especially on chest day! If you’re finishing your last set of bench presses with nary a bulge in your pectorals, give this unique pressing variation a try.


Performing the dumbbell pinch press is very straightforward as far as exercises go. As indicated by its name, the act of pinching the dumbbells together as you press is integral to the effectiveness of the movement. This allows for constant tension on the pec major, during both the eccentric and concentric portions of the press. Remember: you need to be squeezing the edges of dumbbells into each other, instead of just holding them there.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


Plenty of people face the issue of not being able to “feel” their chest working during movements like the barbell and dumbbell bench press, regardless of the joint angle. While reinforcing innervation (ie. mind-muscle connection) might help in some cases, certain individuals come predisposed with limb lengths or bone structures that limit the bench press’s ability to target the chest effectively.


While the dumbbell pinch press can be used as a workout finisher to thoroughly exhaust the chest, it can also be used as a primary movement for training sessions due to the fact that it remains a compound movement that requires both the anterior deltoid and triceps to work in synergy with the pectorals. This allows for safe yet conducive training of lifters who are unable to perform a regular bench press with a complete range of motion. The neutral placement of the dumbbells also places the shoulder in a more stable position and creates less stress on the acromial joint.


The dumbbell pinch press can be programmed in a wide variety of rep/set schemes. Typically, most people see results when doing them in moderate to high volumes. For those who prefer to chase the pump, I recommend doing them for higher repetitions but stopping the movement just shy of a full lockout, allowing you to keep tension squarely on your pectorals. You can also experiment with intensity-extending techniques like drop sets to really hammer your chest.


If you’re using hexagonal dumbbells, then performing the pinch press should be a cinch since the edges are able to be flushed against each other. Round dumbbells would present a slight challenge, although the rubber coating should be able to generate enough friction. Regardless, it helps to keep a firm grip on the handles. Feeling the muscle work is all about maintaining constant awareness, so don’t lose your focus!