Some years ago, when I was stuck at a 440 pound Bench Press, I searched for exercises that would boost my power on the Bench Press. I noticed that for some, it was various triceps exercises, however no one had a one size fits all exercise. In my case, I did heavy dips with up to a 150 pound dumbbell attached to my waist, then my elbows began to hurt, skull crushers ended with the same result, so for me I had to look elsewhere for a compound movement that would work more than the triceps, but would engage the chest, shoulders (anterior) front deltoid, and the triceps without placing the elbows in a position that with added weight while performing exercises, caused pain.
I settled on the Dumbbell Bench Press. The only mention of these over the years was by Dr. Ken
Dr. Ken Leistner pressing a custom Shot Loading Globe Barbell from Atomic Athletic.
Leistner, where he did them also, increasing his Bench Press. The only equipment needed is a good solid bench that will not tip over as you sit on the edge getting the dumbbells in place, and returning them to the floor, and some heavy fixed dumbbells, or bars used for dumbbells, that plates up to 20 or 25 pounds can be used on.
When I mentioned Super-Heavy in the title, I worked up to 200 pound dumbbells in each hand for two reps. I trained by myself, so there was no luxury of a partner that handed the dumbbells to me. I would sit on the end of a solid bench, bend over, grab first the right dumbbell, and place it on my inner thigh, and then grab the second dumbbell, and do the same thing on the left side. Then, sit on the bench, tighten the dumbbells to my chest and with control, lay down on the bench. This is not a bodybuilding dumbbell bench press, so the palms of the hands need to face each other, and not out away from each other as in the bodybuilding movement. By holding the dumbbells palms facing each other, there is more of a stretch at the bottom, as the dumbbells come down to the sides of the chest. This converts to a powerful push off of the chest when doing Bench Presses.
I did these twice weekly, heavy on my heavy Bench press day, and moderate on my moderately
David Shaw Powerlifter
heavy Bench Press day. Repetitions were for example. 90x5, 100x5, 110x5, 120x5,5, this would be on the heavy day. Moderately heavy would be 90x5, 100x5, 110x 5,5,5
The important thing here is to find a rep range that works for you, and push toward heavier and heavier dumbbells. On this routine, my regular Bench Press went to 485 pounds in training, I then substituted Close –Grip Bench presses (able to use more weight) as my assistance movement, and went to 523 pounds in competition. One important fact not to be overlooked is, if you are increasing body-weight, expect some dramatic changes in your upper body. You may go up a size or two in shirt size. By doing this movement heavy, you will not be disappointed.