If you’re like many recreational lifters, your chest day ends up being a lot of the same exercises – bench press, some pec flyes, and maybe some incline or decline bench. However, if you want to develop your chest (or really, any muscle group), it is vitally important that you continue to challenge your body with new exercises.
Here, we’ll look into an uncommon but effective chest builder known as the Svend Press.
The Movement At A Glance
If you’ve never seen someone perform this press before, you might look askance at someone doing it in the gym. This is an exercise that’s deceptively simple. It looks easy, but the moment you try it, you’ll realize it’s much more challenging than it looks.
To do this press, you’ll need to take two relatively lightweight plates and press them together between your palms. Alternatively, you can use a single, somewhat heavier plate. You then will extend your arms out in front of you, locking out your elbows and pausing momentarily. After that, you simply return to the starting position.
To recap, this press essentially involves the following steps:
- Press a plate (or two plates) between the hands
- Extend the hands forward
- Return to the starting position
We will cover how to do this movement step by step shortly. First, though, we will go into why this is an indispensable addition to your arsenal of chest exercises.
Why Do the Svend Press?
Aside from the fact that it has an exotic name, this press has several unique benefits that make it a worthwhile exercise. One important consideration is that it does not stress the shoulders.
If you’ve ever benched too heavy with a too-wide grip, you know firsthand the damage that some of the major chest exercises can do to the shoulders. And if you are healing a shoulder injury or are just prone to them, it makes logical sense to have an exercise that takes the load off the shoulders.
The Svend Press also has an excellent physique benefit. The inner pecs can be difficult to contract fully, but regularly engaging and challenging them is key if you want to build the kind of 3D pectoral muscles that most lifters want.
While it’s true that you do contract your inner pecs on a pec deck or cable fly, these movements realistically only have you hold that full contraction for a second or even less. With the Svend Press, you maintain that contraction throughout the movement.
If you know anything about lifting, you know that time under tension is one of the most important variables when it comes to muscle building. And since the Svend keeps your pecs under tension the whole time, your time under tension is considerable, even over the course of a few reps.
This press also will help you enhance the mind-muscle connection you have with your pecs. While it’s true that you are maintaining the inner pec contraction throughout, you also are moving your arms. This forces you to maintain the contraction while completing other movements, which in turn helps to solidify the mind-muscle connection.
In Depth: How To Do It
Now that we’ve been over the origins of this press as well as the basics of how to perform it, we’ll take a more in-depth look at how to perform this press.
All too often, lifters are so excited to try a new exercise that they rush right into the movement itself without thinking about setup. This is a bad habit to get into, as the setup is vitally important to make sure you execute the lift properly. When moving heavier weights or performing compound exercises, incorrectly setting up the lift may even result in injury.
The setup for this lift is much like the setup for other standing accessory lifts. You’ll want to be sure your knees aren’t locked out. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep yourself standing tall, but be sure to maintain your back’s natural arc.
Then, you will need to select either a single plate or a pair of lighter plates. Press the plate(s) between your hands, with your palms pressing inward. This is your starting position.
Once you have set up the lift, you’re ready to perform the movement. While being careful to stay standing straight, extend your arms out in front of you. Keep your hands at about shoulder height. Be sure to perform the movement in a slow, controlled fashion.
Continue extending your arms until you lock out your elbows. Pause for a second, and then return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
As with most exercises, it is a good idea to start with a lightweight. This will allow you to get a feel for the movement and troubleshoot any issues with form before moving on to more challenging weights. If you want a visual demonstration of how to perform the press, this video may help.
The Svend Press, while uncommon, is an excellent way to diversify your chest training. Whether you use it as a pre-exhaust before your bench or as a post-workout burnout set, this inner-pec targeting motion is sure to help you move more quickly than ever toward your physique goals.