December 12, 2021 8 min read

The plate press is a simple workout that helps isolate your chest and shoulder muscles effectively. You only need a few pieces of equipment, so it is easy to add to your workout routine on chest day.

This article explains all you need to know about the plate press, including how to do it, muscles worked, key benefits, and some good plate exercises for you to try in your next bodybuilding routine. But first, a quick word about your core.

Core Strength Training 

Your abdominals, obliques, and deep core muscles such as the transverse abdominis are going to be used a lot in all these exercises as you increase your overall muscle gain. This is important because your core has even been considered by some experts to be the basis for all of your weightlifting strength.

Hyperextension exercises such as plate presses can prove to be useful if you want to strengthen your core together with your back. It helps to know that these exercises are regularly used during physical therapy to treat conditions that might have developed in the lower back of some patients, such as herniated disks.

How to do the Plate Press 

There are two forms of plate press exercises: the standard plate press and the plate pinch press (which is also known as the Svend press). For both of these exercises, you will need at least one weighted plate. If you don’t already have any weighted plates, you use any other small object, such as a heavy book or a bag of pet food. 

Standard Plate Press 

 

For this exercise, you will need one large weighted plate. Select the type of plate you are comfortable with and then follow the movement as shown in the video above. Do two to three sets of eight to twelve repetitions.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Bend your knees and safely lift the weighted plate from the ground with both hands. 
  3. Return to a standing position and hold the plate vertically at chest level with your elbows bent. 
  4. Your hands should be positioned at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. 
  5. Press your hands into the plate and push it straight out until your arms are fully extended. 
  6. Ensure your core is engaged, your back is straight, and your knees are slightly bent. 
  7. Slowly bring the weight back to your chest while extending your shoulder blades. 

If you are using this as a finisher exercise, complete as many reps as possible. Depending on your current strength and experience, you will need to select a weighted plate that provides a challenge but does not compromise your form. If you need an added challenge, try holding two plates back-to-back. 

Plate Pinch Press (Svend Press)

 

For this exercise, you will need one or two small weighted plates. Select the types of plates you are comfortable with and then follow the movement as shown in the video above. Do two to three sets of eight to twelve repetitions.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Grab two small weighted plates and press them together with your palms. 
  3. Hold them in front of your chest with your elbows bent. 
  4. Your fingers should be straight and pointed slightly away from your body (never wrap your fingers around the plate). 
  5. Extend your arms straight forward and slightly upward. 
  6. Press your palms into the plates for the entire movement to activate your chest muscles. 
  7. Bring the plate back to your chest (the starting position) by bending your elbows.
  8. Continue to squeeze the plates. 

If you are using this as a finisher exercise, complete as many reps as possible. It’s best to use one or two small weighted plates, especially if you are a beginner. As you progress, you can add a third plate to increase the difficulty as long as you can safely hold the plates and lift them as you would in a bench press.

Muscles Worked by These Exercises

The two main types of plate presses are the standard plate press and the plate pinch press, which differ in terms of how you hold the plates. Both versions of the plate press can be used to train multiple muscle groups, such as the shoulders (deltoids, rotator cuff muscles), the chest muscles (inner chest, inner pecs, and lats), the muscles of the upper back (trapezius), the triceps, biceps, and forearms, as well as the core muscles (abdominals and erector spinae).

If you want to target your deltoids and other shoulder muscles, the standard plate press is your best choice. Other surrounding muscles are used for stabilization and to assist with movement. Both plate presses target the chest, shoulders, upper back, and surrounding muscles. The plate pinch press gives you a better chest workout, and the standard plate press gives you a better shoulder workout. 

The Plate Press compared to Other Chest Exercises 

The plate press targets the chest muscles and builds muscular endurance, which refers to the ability to sustain exercise for a period of time. Unlike other chest exercises, which usually use heavier weights, the plate press uses lighter ones so that you perform a higher number of reps in a single session. 

The plate press is not really a good choice if you are actively trying to increase your muscular strength by using heavy weights. If that is the case for you, try using the plate press as a finisher exercise. This will at least help promote your muscular endurance and provide a final challenge for your muscles.

Key Benefits of the Plate Press

The plate press offers some real benefits. First, it is easy to perform and requires minimal equipment, so it is good for beginners or people who prefer to avoid heavier equipment like dumbbells and barbells. Second, it puts less pressure on the shoulders and elbows compared with other chest and shoulder exercises like pushups, the chest press, and the shoulder press.

Third, it can be ideal if you don’t want to place heavy weights over your head and shoulders. Finally, it contracts your muscles throughout the entire range of movement, which increases their time under tension. This forces them to work harder and leads to better endurance.The plate press is a convenient, simple exercise that most people can safely do to build a stronger chest and bigger shoulders.

However, it may not be suitable if you have had a recent shoulder, neck, or back injury. Always consult a healthcare professional or personal trainer before starting any new type of exercise. To prevent injury, always engage your core and avoid hunching your back during the entire exercise. If you are a beginner, focus on proper form first and master the movement pattern before increasing the weight.

This exercise is meant to be done with lighter weights. Avoid using excessively heavy plates and never stack more than two or three plates. The plate press is best for promoting muscular endurance through high rep sets.

Plate Press Variations 

Here are a few variations of the plate press that you can use to mix things up a little and target some different muscles. Performing slight variations of the plate press can really help you target different muscles more effectively. 

Plate Press Variation #1: Plate Push-Ups 

 

Instead of just regular push-ups, you can also do push-ups with plates. Especially when you do these push-ups as a superset with the plate press, this move is great for intermediate lifters and it really targets your shoulders, chest, abs, and arms.

  1. Start in a pushup position.
  2. Keep a plate under each hand, making sure the plates are in contact.
  3. Lower your chest and slide plates apart as you go.
  4. Aim for your nose to touch the ground. 
  5. Return to the starting position and slide the plates back together. 
  6. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like.

Plate Press Variation #2: Plank Plate Switch 

 

Much like the previous exercise, this move is mostly for intermediate lifters and it really targets your shoulders, chest, abs, and obliques. You should obviously already be familiar with doing planks before you attempt them with plates.

  1. Start by doing a plank.
  2. Your fists should be at eye level.
  3. Your toes should be firmly on the ground. 
  4. Stack four to five weight plates together to your right. 
  5. Raise your left arm and grab each plate one by one, stacking them to your left. 
  6. Raise your right arm, grab each plate and stack them to your right. 
  7. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like, speeding up as you go. 

Plate Press Variation #3: Front Shoulder Plate Raise 

 

This move targets your shoulders, back, and abs. It is intended mainly for beginner to intermediate lifters.

  1. Grab a weight plate with both hands. 
  2. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding the plate with an inside grip and arms extended forward. 
  3. Keep your arms straight and slowly raise the plate overhead until your biceps touch your ears.
  4. Return to the starting position. 

Plate Press Variation #4: Lateral Plate Raise 

 

This move targets your deltoids, shoulders, and upper back. It is intended mainly for intermediate lifters.

  1. Stand with a straight torso and with feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Grab a plate with each hand and hold them to your sides.
  3. Raise the plates out from your sides as you bend your elbow slightly. 
  4. Stop when your arms are parallel to the floor. 
  5. Lower the plates slowly back to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like.

Plate Press Variation #5: Chest Squeeze Press 

 

This move mostly targets your chest muscles (pecs), as well as your deltoids and triceps. It is ideal for intermediate to advanced lifters who already have quite a lot of experience with weight training.

  1. Hold and squeeze two plates together in between your hands and across your chest.
  2. Keep your shoulders down. 
  3. Extend your elbows as far as you can go away from the body at chest height. 
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like.

Plate Presses as Part of a Full Body Home Workout 

You can use all these exercises to create a total-body home workout. If you do several sessions of high reps, you will really feel the burn in your chest and shoulders. We recommend supersetting each of the exercises described above. As soon as you finish your reps for the first exercise, move onto the next exercise as quickly as possible, taking no longer than thirty seconds of rest between exercises. 

Try to use a challenging amount of weight, but if you get tired or start to fatigue, reduce the weight immediately. Also, always warm up properly before you start to prepare your joints and ligaments for exercise. Always learn the proper form for all of the weight plate exercises long before you actually start doing them. We recommend our Pre-Workout Stack as a supplement to help create the optimal environment for superior cellular volumization and muscle hypertrophy.

An intense full body workout in a home gym does not have to be complicated, and you don't really need any machines or even any dumbbells or kettlebells. A low load of one plate is all you need to complete an effective cardio workout when you do it with high reps, which might leave you feeling sore for quite some time.

Using Plates Effectively

All you need is a weighted plate to get started. The standard plate press targets the shoulders more than the chest, while the plate pinch press relies more on the chest muscles, though these exercises are similar. Both exercises are easy to learn, involve minimal equipment, and do not require heavy weights. These exercises are great additions to your heavier lifts, such as a chest and shoulder press. You can include them in the middle of your workout routine or use them to finish a workout by doing as many reps as possible.

Movements with plates can improve your cardiovascular function, respiratory efficiency, muscular bulk and definition, articulation and mobility of joints, coordination, and endurance. When you are doing plate work for the first time, your mental health has a big part to play too as you get used to some of the movements. You can also try altering your grip to target a few other  muscle groups with these same exercises.

Plates can have a tremendous anabolic effect on all of your muscle groups. For maximum effect, always follow a comprehensive nutrition plan combined with a useful supplement like our Ripped Stack Advanced T-Boosted Muscle & Strength Builder to preserve muscle strength while increasing cardiovascular capacity, unlocking sustained energy levels, triggering body fat mobilization, combating naturally occurring estrogen, and keeping libido high.

This series of exercises can be considered high intensity training, which comes with a full menu of impressive benefits and may even be an essential way of preserving the neuromuscular function that naturally decreases as you age.