Gym-goers worldwide once proclaimed that Mondays are International Chest Days. This is because the chest is considered one of the key parts of the male physique.

But why is this?

Well, it’s simple. Having a well-sculpted chest tends to draw attention, no matter where you are or what you’re wearing.

Are you looking to improve your upper body routine to grow your chest? You’ve come to the right place! This article discusses one of the best exercises for the chest, the dumbbell squeeze press.

Let’s delve in!

What is the Dumbbell Squeeze Press?

The dumbbell squeeze press is an upper-body exercise that primarily targets the pectoralis major and muscles located in the shoulders.

It is a great movement for building strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance (depending on the rep ranges).

All you need is a set of dumbbells and a bench, and this exercise can really bolster your upper body routine.

What Muscles Does the Dumbbell Squeeze Press Work?

The primary muscle group that’s targeted is the pectoralis major, which are the large muscles located in the chest.

The pec muscles consist of two heads: the clavicular head, and the sternocostal head. The clavicular comprises the upper chest and the sternocostal head makes up the mid to lower chest region.

The dumbbell squeeze press also targets the deltoids, particularly the anterior deltoid. These are comprised of three heads: the anterior, lateral, and posterior heads.

During the dumbbell squeeze press, the triceps are also activated, particularly as you bring your arms upwards to contract.

The secondary muscle groups that are worked are your upper back and abs. This is to help with the stabilization of the movement.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Squeeze Press

  • Gain strength and size

There is more to chest exercises than the classic barbell bench press. To properly gain strength and size, you need to broaden your exercise repertoire.

The dumbbell squeeze press works your muscles from multiple angles, resulting in a stronger, more defined chest over time.

To increase strength, you must aim for a high number of sets with fewer reps. Alternatively, for hypertrophy, you must aim for fewer sets but with a high number of reps.

Incorporating both of these rep schemes would allow for optimal strength and size gains.

  • Emphasizes the entire chest

Due to the way this exercise is performed, all the muscles in your chest are worked. This also means that with little time, you can add more weight and further progress the movement and your gains.

  • Trains your triceps

Given that this movement is a close handgrip, similar to the close grip press, your triceps are worked much more than a regular barbell or bench press. This makes your triceps much stronger, allowing you to improve your other compound lifts and bench press variations.

How to Do the Dumbbell Squeeze Press

For this movement, you will need a pair of dumbbells and a bench.

For the setup:

  • Set up as you would a regular dumbbell chest press on the bench
  • Pick up the dumbbells with your palms facing toward each other
  • Place the weight on your thighs and use your legs to lift them into the air as you lie back on the bench
  • The dumbbells should be touching flat side together and be positioned close to your chest

For the action:

  • Squeeze the dumbbells together
  • Retract your shoulders and create a slight arch in your spine
  • Breathe out as you push the dumbbells upwards, being sure to keep your elbows tucked in
  • Bring the dumbbells back down slowly to your chest
  • Maintain tightness and repeat the movement for reps


Choose a lightweight set of dumbbells to start with. Aim to complete around 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps at a lighter weight. Once you have mastered the form and technique, move on to more challenging weights.

Dumbbell Squeeze Press: Common Errors

  • Flaring of the elbows

One of the most common errors with the dumbbell squeeze press is flaring the elbows out to the sides. When this happens, you are no longer performing the dumbbell squeeze press. By keeping your elbows tucked in, you are activating your entire chest and triceps, which is the aim of the movement.

  • Rounding shoulders

During this movement, you want to avoid rounding your shoulders by keeping your back flat against the bench. When you round your shoulders, your deltoids take over.

To properly correct this mistake, bring your shoulder blades back and down to create a slight arch in your back, helping to maximize the contraction of your pecs.

  • Rushing

This movement should be performed slowly and with control. Not only is this safer, but you will achieve better results as opposed to lifting fast and rushing the exercise.

Dumbbell Squeeze Press: Alternatives

If the dumbbell squeeze press works well for you, you may want to consider adding these alternatives to your chest day routine:

Incline dumbbell fly

This movement takes place on an incline bench and is a great isolation movement for targeting the upper chest muscles.

Standing upward fly

This is a similar movement to the incline fly, but simply from a standing position. This targets more of your shoulders too!

Reverse grip push-up

Have no access to equipment? This smart variation of the classic push-up should be a go-to in your chest workout. The reverse grip takes a while to get used to but would put much more emphasis on your chest.


The dumbbell squeeze press is one of the most effective all-around chest movements. Not only is this exercise a great accessory to the bigger lifts, such as bench press, but it can also help build strength and size.

So, next time you’re looking to add some extra spice to your chest day routine, try the dumbbell squeeze press!