Hex Press – An Alternative For The Bench Press You Should Be Doing

By Marshall Evans | Exercises & Tips

Nov 14
hex press

Actually, you can’t just stick to only one exercise and expect to obtain a jacked and well-rounded chest. By that I mean it’s important to change up our chest training. You may notice that a lot of weightlifters train not only with compound lifts like but also with isolation ones. Therefore, if you want to bring your chest workout to a higher level, you need to change things up. As you’ve probably guessed, I want to introduce you to the dumbbell hex press.

In fact, the hex press or squeeze press is one of the most rarely used chest exercises that deserve way more attention. To be honest, if you are a serious lifter or anyone who wants to increase your bench press, this exercise is the way to go.


Why you should do the hex press

If you don’t know if you’re doing the right thing when integrating this movement into your workout routine, here are some main benefits of this movement you need to know:

It puts extra tension on your inner chest

While most chest exercises work different muscles groups such as chest, shoulders, and triceps, this one help target the chest only. Hence, if you are looking for an exercise that can isolate your chest muscles, go for the hex press. 

Specifically, in this exercise, you have to force 2 dumbbells together the entire time. That means your elbows are very close to your body. And for those who don’t know, the closer you keep your elbows, the more tension you put on your chest.

Additionally, as compared to other dumbbell exercises like the dumbbell bench press or flies, there is no point of rest at the top of the movement. In this exercise, the dumbbells are not directly stacked above your shoulders, elbows, and wrists like they’d be during other chest exercises. This means your bones are not supporting the weight. Therefore, the exercise can put extra chest tension on your pecs, especially the inner part of your pecs.

And as you already know, more muscle tension equals more muscle micro-tearing as well as more muscle growth. In my experience, you should do this exercise after doing some main heavy lifts such as the barbell bench press or dumbbell bench press to build strength and muscle quickly.

It helps contract your pecs the entire time

This advantage comes directly as a result of the act of forcing the dumbbells together. The hex press leads to not only more tension in your chest but also stronger muscle contraction as you have to force the dumbbell together. 

Overall, a lot of weightlifters fail to engage and feel their chest muscles working during pressing movements. I don’t know about you but, a few years ago, I had difficulties flexing my chest while doing the bench press.

Actually, this may not be the problem if you do flies. This is because flies help with the feeling of contracting and tensing your chest with your arms close together. However, the downside of the fly is that you can’t use heavy weights. On the other hand, with the hex press, you’re allowed to lift heavier weights, depending on how strong you are. Also, you can still get intense contractions at the top of the movement just like you’d get while doing the fly. In short, with the hex press, you can get the best of both worlds.

It’s safer for your shoulders

It’s hard to accept but most chest exercises are likely to place significant stress on your shoulders. For example, while doing the barbell bench press, you will probably experience some rotator or shoulder pain. This may even cause severe shoulder injury if you don’t know how to limit shoulder involvement. A lot of lifters can’t bench press heavy like they could just because they have shoulder injuries. 

In details, shoulder problems usually result from flaring elbows excessively during pressing exercises. But with the hex press, your shoulders will be very safe as they are tucked for the entire time. Therefore, if you keep your chest up and retract your shoulder blades, I’m sure there will be no problem with your shoulders. 

How to perform the hex press

Actually, the hex press is not difficult to perform. Honestly, it is one of the easiest chest exercises ever. But if you’ve never done it before, you will need to take a look at the guide below to know how to perform it properly.

Step 1: Choose a weight bench

Take a weight bench and set it to slight incline (if you want to focus on your upper inner chest a bit more) or flat.

Start with 2 dumbbells together against your chest using a hammer grip with palms facing inwards.

Step 2: Grab 2 light dumbbells

Step 3: Get in position

With these 2 dumbbells pressed together, lie on the weight bench.

Tuck your elbows as much as possible. Contract your inner chest to press the dumbbells straight out while forcing the dumbbells together.

Step 4: Lift the dumbbells

Step 5: Lower the dumbbell

While still keeping the dumbbells pressed together, slowly lower them under control by bending your elbows.

Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps so that you can feel the burn in your inner chest. Do not choose heavy weights with which you can’t do more than 8 reps per set.


If you are looking for something new that helps target your inner chest, then go for the lying plate press or Svend press. In detail, you have to do the same things, except that you’ll use a plate instead of 2 dumbbells. To me, with a plate, my elbows are even tucked more, and therefore, I can target the inner chest even better than I’d with dumbbells. The downside of this version is that it’s quite uncomfortable to keep the plate stable during the movement.

Final thoughts

I don’t want to say that the hex press is the best chest exercise for muscle growth. However, it can be one of the best assistance exercises that you should add to your workout routine to build strength and muscle. Therefore, my advice is to do this movement after your main pressing movements like the barbell bench press or dumbbell bench press. So now, what are you waiting for? Just go out there, give it a try and see what happens to your chest. 


About the Author

Hello everyone, I’m Marshall Evans and welcome to AestheticGuys.com. I love fitness so I spent years searching for training and nutrition tips to get in shape. I really want to share my experiences and all my tips with anyone who cares about health and fitness, that’s why I started AestheticGuys.com in 2017. Through the blog, I will have a chance to write about everything I want to share with you guys to make you love fitness more and help you get an aesthetic body.