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Hybrid Cable Dumbbell Bench Press


This is, quite simply, one of the best chest exercises you’ll ever do—and I don’t say that lightly. It will force massive growth-producing tension on your pecs for the entire exercise—every rep of every set, top to bottom. Your pecs will get no break, and they will flat-out grow.

The trick is, you combine two forms of resistance into one exercise, with each form directly addressing the weak point of the other. You do a dumbbell bench press and a cable flye at the same time, overlapping the strength and tension curves of the two exercises to achieve continuous tension on your pecs.

The cable flyes offer little to no tension on the chest at the bottom of the movement, but when you get to the top, you get maximum pec contraction. The dumbbell presses offer maximum tension at the bottom, but it gradually tapers off until, at the top, you get practically nothing. In fact, at the top you can completely relax your pecs, and the dumbbells will still stay up!

When you combine the two exercises into one hybrid movement, you get an exercise that provides full tension at the bottom (from the press) and full tension at the top (from the cable flye). Your pecs don’t get a single moment’s break and, literally, they don’t stand a chance.

For setup you’ll need a bench, a pair of moderate-weight dumbbells (use weights you know you can handle for at least 12 to 15 reps on dumbbell bench presses) and a cable crossover machine.  If you don’t have a crossover machine, you can use a pair of bands to achieve the same effect.

In addition, the exercise will be much easier to set up and perform if you also have two ankle straps.  You’ll be wearing them on your forearms so that you can attach the low pulleys to your arms without interfering with your grip.

If you don’t have ankle straps, you can just loop the cable directly around the dumbbell handle and clip it back onto itself to attach it.

Set the bench in the center of the cable crossover machine and start with light weight—just one or two plates on the stack. You’ll want to get a feel for the exercise before you start increasing the weight (trust me on this).

I prefer to have the ankle harnesses already clipped to the low pulleys. All you have to do is go over and slide your hand through one side, then walk over and slide your hand through the other side. Your dumbbells will be sitting in front of the bench.

Pick up the dumbbells, setting them on your knees, then lie back and get the dumbbells into the start position. This is where you get maximum tension from the press. Now press up to the top. This is where the tension from the press drops off and the tension from the cable resistance peaks, as you bring your hands up and together. Lower the dumbbells slowly, and then repeat.

You will notice from the very first repetition that your pecs get no break, the way they do in a regular dumbbell bench press. As you press to the top, the cable resistance increases substantially, giving you both inward and upward resistance and matching the strength curve of the press perfectly.

Once you’ve completed your very first set, determine if you need to add more resistance to either the dumbbells or the cables.

Believe me, once you do this exercise, you will be hooked.

—Nick Nilsson

Editor’s note: To get a copy of Nick’s Muscle Explosion—28 Days to Maximum Mass, visit his Web site,

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