This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
Combine the difficulty of a drop set with the challenge of adding speed and power to each dumbbell press for a killer chest workout. For this chest dumbbell press power drop set, you'll max out on the first set with heavy weights, and then drop down twice for two more sets at lower weights, pushing up powerfully with each rep to squeeze the last morsels of strength out of your pectorals.
Find a pair of dumbbells heavy enough that you will reach fatigue in eight chest presses (fatigue means that you could continue to lift the weights, but would not be able to maintain your form). You will also need a pair five pounds lighter than your heavy dumbbells, and another pair five pounds lighter yet. Lie on your back on the bench with the heaviest dumbbells in your hands, arms extended straight toward the ceiling from your shoulders, and your palms facing your feet (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, begin bending your elbows as you lower the weights down toward your chest. Lower the dumbbells until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and are level with your back; your hands will be beside your chest, with your palms still facing your feet, and your elbows bent at no more than a 90-degree angle. Remember to bring your hands down in a vertical line, rather than following the angle of your upper body (see Photos 2 and 3).
- Reverse direction and press the dumbbells powerfully back up to the starting position. Keep your chest engaged at the top of the lift. It is important on all chest presses to keep the flexion in your chest throughout the movement instead of allowing your chest to turn off or rest at top of motion (see Photos 4 and 5). Repeat for a set of eight chest presses.
- After eight presses with the heavy weights, set those weights down and go pick up a set five pounds lighter. Repeat the chest presses with the lighter weights, again focusing on pushing up with controlled speed and power for a set of eight presses.
- After you have completed eight presses with the middle weights, do another set of eight power chest presses with the lightest set of weights (see Photos 6 and 7).