Dumbbell Hex Press: The Secret to Maximize Your Chest Gains

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Written By Kathy Brewer

I am a certified personal trainer, and I take pride in helping people achieve their fitness goals through strength training, cardio, and nutrition. 





A difference between the left and right pecs frequently indicates a chest with good definition. Concentrating on developing your inner chest muscles is essential if you want to achieve such definitions.

However, traditional exercises like a bench press with dumbbells and bars might not adequately target this region. This is the reason it’s essential to mix up your workout routine. The Hex Press can be the best workout to get the necessary outcomes, making it worthwhile.

This dumbbell chest exercise is often overlooked in favor of the traditional bench press. Still, it’s a highly effective way to target your inner chest muscles and achieve better muscle separation and definition.

The Hex Press is also known as the DB hex press or simply the hex press dumbbell exercise. You can do the Hex Press with many variations, too, including the incline hex press, where you can elevate your bench and do it just like in this video. 

In this post, I’ll talk about the advantages of Hex Press, the muscles it targets, and the correct ways to do the exercise for the best results.

What Is Hex Press?

The hex press is a modified dumbbell bench press with a unique technique. It is designed to enhance upper body strength and mainly focuses on the chest muscles.

What Is Hex Press
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Unlike the conventional dumbbell bench press, where the dumbbells are kept apart and positioned directly above the chest, the hex press requires the dumbbells to be pushed together throughout the exercise, forming a hexagonal shape.

It’s possible to perform this exercise with regular dumbbells. However, hexagonal dumbbells are ideal because they allow the flat faces of each weight to remain in contact with one another as you press them up together.

According to John Meadows, a fitness trainer, “It’s a great exercise for starting chest work out well, as it helps keep the chest interaction, making it effective.”

Hex Press Muscles Worked

The Hex Press primarily works the pectoralis major muscles, a large group of muscles found in the chest. In addition to this, primary muscle also targets other groups such as anterior and lateral deltoids (shoulder blades) and your triceps.

This exercise is very effective for pumping blood into your muscles, making it great for adding size. It’s also a perfect finisher!

And if you don’t feel your pecs contracting when you do other exercises (like bench presses), this will help build that connection.

The key is to flex continuously while slamming the dumbbells against one another.

This exercise is often used by athletes, including American football players and rugby players, and is included in powerlifting and weightlifting programs as one of the “big three” exercises.

How To Do Hex Press?

To do the Hex press, you need to grab a pair of hexagonal-shaped dumbbells. You can do it with round dumbbells, too, but I recommend doing it with hexagonal-shaped dumbbells for a better impact.

Do it with a weight you can easily lift with complete controls. Here are the steps to do a dumbbell hex press:

  • Lie on a bench and grab hexagonal-shaped dumbbells.
  • Hold the dumbbells together right in the middle of your chest.
  • Brace your core and put your feet slowly into the ground.
  • Holding the dumbbells together, extend your arms directly over your chest and flex your chest.
  • Inhale slowly, brace your core, and lower the dumbbells to your chest area in a very controlled motion.
  • The dumbbells should touch your chest when you bring them down, and keep inhaling and exhaling while you do it.
  • You should do at least 8-10 reps.

Benefits of the Hex press

The hex press is an excellent exercise for building muscle in the chest and upper body. It can be combined with other pectoral exercises, and its unique hexagonal barbell design helps target inner chest muscles better than regular flat or round dumbbells.

Incorporating the hex press into your workout routine can achieve a more aesthetically pleasing physique by building muscle definition and separation. Here are all the benefits of a hex press:

Enhances Body Composition

The hex press helps build muscle mass, which boosts your body’s thermogenic response. This results in burning more calories even outside of workout sessions.

By gaining lean muscle and burning body fat, you can quickly optimize your body composition and achieve your fitness targets.

Targets Inner Chest Muscles

The hex press is an effective exercise to develop chest muscles. It isolates the inner chest, which is challenging to target with other exercises, leading to better muscle definition and separation. Adding a hex press to your workout routine can be valuable to achieving an aesthetically pleasing physique.

Improves Triceps Strength

The hex press targets the chest muscles but also works your triceps more than traditional presses. These smaller muscle groups become stronger due to the increased pressure.

Including the hex press in your routine can improve your overall fitness because strong triceps are essential for upper-body activities like pushing and pulling.

You can build a stronger, more toned upper body by adding this exercise to your fitness routine.

Ease of shoulder

The Hex Press exercise is an excellent option for people with shoulder issues who want to improve their bench press performance.

By using dumbbells and squeezing them together tightly during both the lifting and lowering phases, you can avoid aggravating your shoulders while still receiving a significant training effect.

To start, try the dumbbell hex-press variation of the squeeze press and gradually progress to a more inclined position on an adjustable bench.

When Should You Use The Hex Press?

The hex press is a valuable addition to a chest workout routine but should not be used as a substitute for regular barbell or dumbbell bench presses.

Instead, it’s best used as an auxiliary exercise that complements the +main lifts but only sometimes bears most of the weight training load (if you get what I mean).

One way to integrate the hex press is to perform a standard pressing movement when your strength is at its peak. For example, you could use the barbell or dumbbell bench press as your first exercise.

Afterward, complete the hex press with lighter weights (aiming for 8-12 reps) to maximize muscle growth—the second or third weightlifting move in a tri-set routine.

Hex presses are an excellent exercise for anyone with shoulder problems while doing bench presses. The hand position and close grip make the shoulders more comfortable during this movement.

You can also use the hex press as an alternative to traditional bench presses when recovering from a pectoral muscle tear—by using lighter weights and a close grip, you can activate your chest muscles without straining this area.

The hex press is a valuable exercise that can enhance a chest workout routine but should differ from the traditional bench press.

It can be utilized as a supplementary exercise, a shoulder-friendly option, or an alternative during injury recovery.

4 Best Hex Press Variations That You Should Try

Here are some of the best Hex Press variations that you should try:

1. Hex press Smith machine

The Hex press smith machine is a variation of the Hex press. For this exercise, you will need a V grip on the Smith bar and put on some weight on the bars.

  • Start by positioning the V grip on the Smith bar. Push the bar up to unlock it and slowly lower the weight until the V grip touches your chest.
  • Once you reach your chest, explode upward using your chest muscles and squeeze for one second at the top.
  • Then, slowly lower the weight through the eccentric movement and repeat the process.

Watch this video from Joshua, a fitness enthusiast, for a better idea.

This exercise targets your chest muscles and is a great way to add variation to your workout routine.

Make sure to maintain proper form throughout the exercise to avoid any injuries. Incorporate the Smith machine Hex press into your workout routine for a more muscular, more defined chest.

2. Incline Dumbbell Hex press

The Incline Dumbbell Hex Press is a traditional hex press exercise variation. This movement targets your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

For this exercise, you’ll need an incline bench with adjustable arm supports and two dumbbells that are light enough to lift comfortably but heavy enough to challenge your muscles at this angle.

  • Set an incline bench to 1-2 notches up to perform this exercise. Grab a set of dumbbells, and lean back on the bench while keeping your chest up.
  • With your elbows close to your body, hold the dumbbells together and press the weights directly upward.
  • Keep the dumbbells pressed together until your arms are fully extended above your chest. Squeeze your chest during the contraction, then slowly lower the dumbbells about 1 inch above your chest.

Watch this video from Joshua for a better idea of how to perform this exercise.

3. Plate Press

The plate press is a simple and effective exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It is also one of the variations of the hex press.

To perform this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Start by selecting a weight plate that is appropriate for your strength level.
  • You can perform this exercise while standing up, but it’s better to lie on a bench comfortably.
  • Hold the plate with both hands, gripping it at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, and keep your elbows tight while holding the plate.
  • Push the weight plate directly out before you, extending your arms fully. Make sure to keep your elbows slightly bent to avoid locking them out.
  • Hold the plate at full extension for a second or two, then slowly lower it to your chest.
  • Keep your hands between your belly button and breathe in and out while lowering or lifting the plate.
  • Repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.

For a better demonstration of this exercise, watch this video.

4. Close Grip Dumbbell Pushups

If you are short on workout equipment at home, a great alternative to consider is the close-grip pushup. To perform this exercise:

  • Lie face down on the floor.
  • Position your hands close to your ribs with your elbows tucked in firmly at your sides.
  • Perform the push-up as you normally would.
  • If you have dumbbells, use them to create a hex press grip as you do your pushups.
  • Wrap a resistance band around your back to make the exercise more challenging.


How does the hex press work?

The hex press is a chest exercise that targets the pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and triceps. It involves pressing the weights into each other, creating a hexagonal shape with the dumbbells. This exercise works the chest muscles, especially those in the inner part of your pectoralis major. Keep hold of both dumbbells throughout the entire movement to get better results.

Is the hex press harder than the dumbbell press?

Although both the hex press and the dumbbell press are upper body strength training exercises that primarily target the pectoralis major, a standard bench press with dumbbells will put more strain on your pecs than a hex press would. When the dumbbells are near your chest at the bottom of the range of motion, pressing the dumbbells together decreases the distance your arms can go. The hex press targets the chest muscles slightly differently than the dumbbell press, but it is not necessarily harder.

Is hex press good for the upper chest?

Yes, the hex press is effective for the upper chest. The exercise generally focuses on the inner chest muscles, but when performed on an inclined bench, it can angle the weights to increase the engagement of the upper chest. Also, the hex press is an isolated strength training exercise that can support chest muscular hypertrophy and strength development.

Does the hex press work?

The hex press improves muscular separation, definition, and overall body composition while focusing on the chest muscles. The hex press also promotes the growth of lean muscle mass, the breakdown of fat, and the development of a stronger mental-muscular connection, all enhancing pressing power.


The hex press is a highly effective exercise to help you build inner chest definition and strength. Whether you opt for the dumbbell or the incline hex press, this underutilized movement can provide many aesthetic and performance benefits.

One of the most significant advantages of incorporating the hex press into your workout routine is that it can help you increase your pressing strength and size.

This, in turn, can translate into heavier compound movements, which can help you make significant progress toward your fitness goals.

By adding the hex press to your chest training routine, you can target the muscles in your chest from a unique angle, which can help you achieve a more complete and well-rounded chest.

However, as with any exercise, starting slowly and gradually increasing your resistance is essential as your strength and fitness level improve.

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