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If you want to bench press heavier dumbbells but seem to be stuck at whatever weight you’re lifting right now, you’re going to want to try what is shown in this video. The best part about this tip is that it is going to work guaranteed, the very next time you pick up a set of dumbbells. The reason it works is due to two reasons.
First of all, it is important to evaluate how you perform a dumbbell bench press right now. Watch the clips shown to see which more closely resembles your form on the bench press when you do it. Be sure to take close note of the position of the rest during and at the top of the press. Does your dumbbell rest centrally in your hand with the weight borne equally between the middle of the radius and the ulna? Or does, your wrist tilt slightly up at the top with the thumb higher than the pinky?
You might think that the best way to perform the dumbbell bench press is to keep the dumbbell level with the floor however it is biomechanically causing a challenge that you do not want if you want to press your heaviest weight possible. The thumbs up position of the wrist does something very important at the end of the radius at the wrist joint. It creates some space that doesn’t currently exist and frees this area up from excessive compression caused by the heavy dumbbell sitting in your hand.
If you take a look at the bones of the radius and ulna you will notice that the radius is slightly longer at the end than the ulna. Anatomically, this can create an impingement or pinching of the structures located in the wrist. When you add a heavy weight to your hand you will see that the pain that is felt can be exacerbated quickly. It becomes quickly obvious that the presence of pinching or discomfort in the wrist is not going to allow you to bench press your heaviest dumbbells possible.
That said, even when there is no pain with pressing the dumbbells you are not positioned in the biomechanically optimal position by performing the dumbbell bench press with a flat hand. The center of gravity shifts when you slide your hand towards the thumb side of the dumbbell but it is able to be centralized by the tilting of the dumbbell down which keeps the weight being borne through both the radius and ulna. So while the dumbbell is still balanced and supported for your strongest pressing, you are getting away from any excessive compression at the radial side of the wrist.
There is a second benefit for taking a thumb side grip on the dumbbell you are about to press as well. This is, that when assuming this grip you want to be sure that you’re squeezing almost all of your effort into the thumb and index finger. Wrap the index finger around the thumb if possible to really focus your squeeze through these two fingers. The other three fingers should be wrapped around for additional stability but should not be the main ones providing the squeeze on the handle.
What happens when this occurs is that you tap into a neurological phenomenon that enables stronger adduction of the arm across the chest with the squeezing of the index finger and thumb. The brachial plexus is an important neurological hub located in the area of the lower cervical spine and upper arm that has branches and cords and divisions of nerves. The nerves are fed from the same common lateral cord of the plexus. Crossover innervation of these nerves allows for the amplification of these paired actions.
You’ll definitely want to try this for yourself.
The bottom line is, when you assume this grip and squeeze through the inner most fingers you will find that you have more power in the press and can instantly press heavier dumbbells. The chest will likely feel more of the engagement as well not only getting you to press more but getting development of the chest muscles as a result.
Try to make this small change in your next dumbbell bench press workout and I promise you will see increases in the weight that you can handle.
If you’re wondering how this translates to the barbell bench press, be sure to watch to the end.
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