of the most challenging aspects of the dumbell
bench press is not actually doing the exercise
itself but getting the dumbells into position
to start the exercise. This may not be so
hard when you're using lighter dumbells
but when you start getting into relatively
heavy weights, getting the dumbells up off
the floor and into position can be quite
a challenge. This is doubly true on the
incline dumbell press (anybody who has ever
picked up two 120 pound dumbells off the
floor and straight up into the incline press
position can vouch for that!).
you're using heavy weights, you need all
the strength you've got. You don't want
to use it up just getting ready to start
the exercise! That's where Power Hooks come
Hooks are very simple in concept and elegant
in design. They are basically double hooks
(similar to an "S" shape) that
you attach directly to your dumbells that
allow you to hang your dumbells from a bar
in the start position of the pressing exercise.
This means you don't have to clean and jerk
the dumbells up into position yourself.
There are two strong bottom hooks that cradle
the dumbell, which is secured with thick
Velcro straps. The large top hook goes over
top of the barbell or bar that you're hanging
the dumbell from.
use the Power Hooks, once the dumbells are
secured into the hooks, you lift the dumbells
up and hook the large hooks over the bar
you're using (the hooks stay attached to
the dumbells while you're doing the movement).
Lay down on the bench, set your hands on
the dumbells, push the dumbells forward
and out a little then lift and unhook the
Hooks. When you're done with the set, simply
rehook the Hooks and lower the weights.
picture demonstrates how the hooks
are set up on the dumbells and how
they hang on the bar.
to place them far enough apart on
the bar so that when you lay down,
you don't crack your head on the dumbells
(don't ask me how I know this...).
pictures demonstrate how to use the
hooks in an actual set.
you grasp the dumbells, then you push
them forward, then you raise the hooks
off the bar, then you do your set
them back on, simply bring the dumbells
back towards your head and catch the
hooks on the bar.
The Benefits of Power
Power Hooks allow you to start the exercise
immediately, without having to get the dumbells
into position from off the floor or having
somebody hand them to you. This saves you
energy and power so you have more strength
available for the exercise itself.
the short term, this means you'll be able
to perform more reps with more weight. In
the long term, it means you'll be able to
make much better progress in the dumbell
bench press because you'll be able to lift
more weight for more reps during your sets
(this will also carry over to barbell bench
press strength as well).
2. Because the Power Hooks allow you to
start the exercise without having to get
the dumbells into position yourself, you
will prevent possible injuries that can
happen as a result of getting those dumbells
not easy getting extremely heavy dumbells
into position for dumbell exercises. It
places unbalanced loads on your body and
the momentum that can be generated when
you're moving the dumbells around to get
them into position can result in muscle
pulls or connective tissue injuries. The
dumbell press exercise itself is much safer
compared to some of the tricks people use
to get the dumbells into position.
the hooks, you completely remove that injury
3. Starting from the top of the bench press
movement allows you to pre-load your muscles
for a more powerful start. Here's what I
mean...when you do a barbell bench press,
you don't start your first rep from the
bottom with the bar on your chest. You start
with the bar at the top. This allows your
muscles to develop elastic tension as you
lower the bar and release it as you come
back up, making for a more powerful exercise.
you do the typical dumbell press, the position
you end up in when you get the dumbells
into position is at the bottom. You have
no elastic tension in the muscles and it
can be much harder to get the weights into
position to start your set. You've essentially
set yourself back right from the start.
the hooks, you start just as you would with
a barbell bench press - from the top position.
It's a stronger position to start in and
results in a more effective loading of the
The Drawbacks of Power
While being relatively simple to attach
to the dumbell handles (it's just a matter
of placing the handle on the hooks and wrapping
the Velcro around), it does require some
set-up to use in practice. I set the hooks
up in my power rack and, at first, it took
me a few tries to get the height of the
bar right so that I could easily hook and
unhook at the start and end of the exercise.
using the bar on a regular bench press,
however, the instructions tell you to simply
push the dumbells around in an arc until
you can just lift the hooks off. It takes
a bit of practice to get good at hooking
and unhooking - definitely start with lighter
weights to get the idea of how it works
and how the dumbells move and feel in your
hands with the hooks attached to them. The
strap and metal bar used to secure the dumbell
to the hooks can feel a little awkward in
your hands at first but you will get used
to the feel very quickly.
2. When pressing, I found the hooks occasionally
contacted the bar that I had set up to hang
them on. This gets much less frequent as
you become more accustomed to using the
Power Hooks, however, but when it does happen,
it can throw off your rhythm and distract
you. It's a minimal drawback that can be
solved by practicing how to best use the
hooks and position yourself on the bench.
3. It's difficult to use the hooks with
any Swiss Ball pressing exercises. The reason
is not because the hooks make the exercise
any more unstable...it's that because the
ball is inflatable, when you try to unhook
the dumbells and lift them off the bar,
you sink down into the ball! This effect
is really pronounced when using very heavy
dumbells, making it difficult to get the
dumbells into position. It can certainly
be done, but you will need to account for
the sinking of the ball and your position
on it underneath the bar to be sure you'll
be able to get the dumbells rehooked when
my experience with the Power Hooks, I've
found them to be an extremely valuable training
tool for more efficient dumbell pressing.
They are especially useful when you're using
very heavy weights, when you're doing incline
or seated dumbell presses (for shoulders)
and for workouts that have short rest periods
(you don't want to spend your rest time
hoisting dumbells back into position).
would say the Power Hooks definitely live
up to their claim of allowing you to get
more reps and use more weight in your dumbell
pressing, especially over the course of
several sets as your muscles begin to fatigue.
The hooks allow you focus your energy on
the exercise rather than on expending it
trying to get the dumbells into position
safe and effective and, while they do have
minimal drawbacks, don't let any of those
stand in your way of trying out these very
useful training tools. They're a definite