July 08, 2021 8 min read
The bench press is one of the most important exercises in powerlifting, bodybuilding, and weight lifting in general, and there are many bench press variations out there.
But there is one variation that can help you develop incredible power and explosive strength out of the bottom position of the bench press.
It's called the pin press and it is a type of dead bench press, where the barbell starts from a dead stop on safety pins placed slightly above your chest. The pin press removes the negative portion of the movement and as a result, teaches you to remain tight in the bottom of the movement and generate force from that position.
Because there is no stored tension in your body that you can use to bounce the bar off of your chest, you're not able to use momentum out of the bottom position to help you lift the weight.
Most of us have sticking points in our bench press
This is generally where you get 'stuck' and you can't lift the weight. For some of us it's at the bottom, and for others it's closer to lockout at the top of the movement.Once you pinpoint your sticking point or weakness in the bench press, start your press from that point in the range of motion. Essentially, the pin press allows you to target those spots and improve your strength and explosiveness from those positions.
If you're a lifter who's trying to increase your maximum bench press load, then consider the pin press your new best friend.
As a bench press variation, the pin press targets the same muscles as the regular bench press, including several upper body muscle groups. However, it also puts more emphasis on some of the supplementary muscles of the bench press.
This added emphasis improves your overall strength and power in the bench press.
Here are the primary muscles worked by the pin press:
The pros of pin press have to do with helping improve one's maximum regular bench press load. More specifically, the pin press targets common bench press weaknesses and aims to eliminate them.
Here are the key benefits of adding the pin press to your workout routine:
While the pin press is a fantastic bench press variation, it does come with some cons. Thankfully, you can avoid many of these potential cons by practicing good form.
Here are the potential cons of pin presses:
Ready to get started with the pin press?
Here's what you'll need: A flat bench, a barbell, a set of safety pins, and a power rack.
Once you've got your equipment, it's time to get started.
By resetting the bar on the rack on each rep, you're forced to keep tension in the system as you don't have the benefit of the rebound at the bottom to move th
For some people, the pin press just isn't for them. Others love the pin press but want more options for bench press variations and tricep-strengthening exercises.
As we mentioned above, other than the pin press, there aren't many variations to the bench press. However, there are a couple, and we've included them below, along with other exercises that target the same muscles as the pin press. Here are the top pin press alternative exercises that provide many of the same benefits:
The first alternative to the pin press is the overhead press. While the pin press primarily strengthens your triceps, the overhead press strengthens the shoulder muscles.
The overhead press is an alternative exercise to the pin press because it helps build that same upper body power. Both require that you generate intense force to push the barbell up from a challenging sticking point position.
Additionally, you can also perform the original pin press like you would an overhead press. Rather than lying flat, you do the pin press while standing up and lifting the barbell over your head.
To do an overhead standing pin press, set your safety pins to forehead level and rest your barbell on them. Then, grip the bar, point your elbows forward, and press the bar directly over your head.
Pro tip: The pin press can be adapted to the overhead press. The concept is the same, the only difference is the pins are adjusted to shoulder height and you are pressing the weight from a standing position.
The board press is a fun and unique way to work on your bench press. It is an alternative to the pin press because it similarly helps strengthen your press at different points in the range of motion. To do the board press, you'll need to get a stack of wooden 2x4's.
Prepare just as you would for a bench press by laying on a flat bench and setting the bar over your chest near your lockout height. Place one of the 2x4s on your chest. Have a partner hold it in place so it doesn't slide.
When you're ready, unlock the bar and drop it down until it hits the 2x4. Then, press it up to the lockout. With each rep, have your partner add another 2x4 on top of the first one. The idea is to have the stack get continuously taller with each repetition. That way, you get to practice the press at different ranges of motion.
The dumbbell floor press is the simplest alternative to the pin press. The difference is that you are laying on the floor and use dumbbells rather than a barbell.There are several benefits to the dumbbell floor press, the main being that by laying on the floor you completely remove your legs from the movement. This requires you to channel extra strength from your core and other stabilizing muscles.
With partial rep presses, you only lower your barbell for a portion of the full range of motion required for a bench press. They are an alternative to the pin press because they similarly challenge your strength at different ranges of motion.
To do them, all you need to do is perform a regular bench press with a smaller range of motion. To make the exercise the most effective, have the bottom of your press be one of your sticking points. That will help improve your strength at that particular spot on the regular bench press. Using a spotter is a good idea with this exercise as your triceps are under tension the entire time and may tire quickly.
Last but not least, tricep push-ups and extensions help strengthen your triceps. And, as you already know, the triceps are the primary mover muscle in the pin press.
If you're looking for an exercise to help improve your pin press specifically, then do these exercises. The more you work on them, the more your pin press should improve.
With several fantastic benefits including helping to build muscular power, strengthening the triceps, and improving your lockout, it's a great exercise to your regular workout routine and increase your maximum bench load.
Bonus tip: The shoulder stabilizing muscles provide support during the pin press. Here are our favorite exercises for strengthening those shoulder stabilizers!