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December 12, 2021 5 min read

The plate press is a simple yet effective exercise that can help isolate your chest and shoulder muscles, which can promote muscle growth. You only need a weight plate and a bench or a comfy spot on the floor, so it's a convenient way to start building a bigger upper body.

Using a plate versus dumbbells or a barbell can give your workout some variety and can be beneficial for those busy gym days when all that equipment is taken.  

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.

The difference between the conventional plate press and the pinch press is the number of weight plates you're using.

The plate press requires just one weight plate where the pinch press requires two smaller plates, so you can press or pinch them together during the exercise.   

Standard Plate Press 

For this exercise, you will need one large weighted plate. It's a fairly simply movement, and if you're familiar with the chest press, it can be a smooth transition. You can do this exercise standing or lying on a bench. 

How to do the Plate Press: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or lie flat on a bench, such as in the video. 
  2. Hold the plate vertically at chest level with your elbows bent. 
  3. Press your hands into the plate and push it straight out until your arms are fully extended. 
  4. Ensure your core is engaged, and your back is straight.
  5. Slowly bring the weight back to your chest to the starting position

Plate Pinch Press (Svend Press)

For this exercise, you will need one or two small weighted plates. Almost identical to the plate press, you'll use the same movement pattern, but it can challenge your grip a little more since you're holding the weights tighter together.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, such as in the video, or lie flat on a bench. 
  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. 
  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 by bending your elbows.

Muscles Worked by These Exercises

Both versions of the plate press can be used to train multiple muscle groups:

  • The shoulders (deltoids, rotator cuff muscles)
  • The chest muscles (pectorals major and minor)
  • The upper back (trapezius)
  • The arms (triceps, biceps, and forearms)
  • The core muscles

The core and shoulders are used as stabilizer muscles during the plate press, while the chest is the primary mover.

The conventional plate press can be more beneficial for targeting the the chest and shoulders, whereas the plate pinch press can dig into the upper and lower chest more.    

The Plate Press compared to Other Chest Exercises 

The plate press targets the chest muscles and can help you build strength and endurance for the bigger lifts like the bench press. Since the plate press only uses one or two weight plates, the weights will typically be lighter than what you can press when benching. However, that doesn't make it any less beneficial.

Because of the lighter weight, you can bust out a higher number of reps, which can be better for muscle hypertrophy. 

The plate press can also be more convenient than other chest exercises. Where the bench press, chest press, chest fly, etc need multiple dumbbells or barbells and weight plates, the plate press just uses one piece of equipment. 

Key Benefits of the Plate Press

The plate press offers some real benefits.

  • It's relatively simple to perform and requires minimal equipment, so it can good for beginners or anyone who doesn't have access to other types of weight.
  • It can put less pressure on the shoulders and elbows compared with other chest and shoulder exercises like push-ups, the chest press, and the shoulder press.
  • Since it uses lighter weights, it can help boost muscle hypertrophy since you're performing more reps. 
  • The pinch plate press specifically can be great for isolating the chest muscles, which can also promote muscle growth more than compound exercises. 

Some Things to Consider 

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 Presses as Part of a Full Body Workout 

    You can use all these exercises to create a total-body workout. If you do several sessions of high reps, you'll be sure to feel the burn in your chest and shoulders and overtime see the muscle growth.

    An intense  full body workout in a gym doesn't 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. 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.

    For maximum effect, always follow a comprehensive nutrition plan combined with a useful supplement like the Ripped Stack to preserve muscle strength while increasing cardiovascular capacity, unlocking sustained energy levels, triggering body fat mobilization, combating naturally occurring estrogen, and keeping libido high.