We live in an age when the basic and simple things have been discarded in favor of the new, glitzy, and ‘sexy’. This is as true in the fitness industry as it is in any other. In this article, we’re going to ignore that trend and dust off an oldie but a goodie from the Golden era of bodybuilding– the plate pinch press.
Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the Plate Pinch Press. You’re not alone. Yet this is an incredibly effective chest move that can be performed with nothing but a single weight plate. By the end of this article, you’re going to be a plate pinch press expert.
What is the Plate Pinch Press?
The plate pinch press is a variation of the bench press that places the muscular tension squarely on the inner part of the pectoral muscles.
There are two ways to perform this exercise: lying on a bench and standing.
Bench Plate Pinch Press
To perform the bench version of the pinch plate press, you grab hold of a single weight plate. Start with a relatively modest weight to allow yourself t get used to the movement. Lie on a bench with the plate squeezed between your palms.
Position your body as if you were about to start the conventional bench press. Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor, your back in a neutral position and your chest opened up (imagine that you are Superman revealing the ‘S’ on your chest).
Rest the weight plate on your mid chest and squeeze your palms together (imagine trying to touch your palms together). Now, while you are squeezing in, push the weight up to full extension. Immediately reverse the motion, being sure to continue squeezing the weight the whole time. This pushing inward will strongly flex the inner part of your chest.
Be sure that your elbows are kept in tight to your body as you perform the exercise.
You’ll be surprised at how hard this exercise is – and how little weight you need to get a great chest pump. While you might be able to bench press with 3 or more 45-pound plates on each end of the bar, you’ll probably find that a single 45-pound plate is all that you’ll need for this one.
Because you are squeezing in with your palms, there is no actual grip on the weight plate. That makes it very difficult to maintain your hold on it, requiring you to keep the inward squeeze going right throughout the move.
Be sure to keep your tight throughout the exercise. Breath in as you come down and exhale as you push back up.
Standing Plate Pinch Press
The standing version of the plate press pinch is also known as the Svend press. This version is slightly more difficult than the bench version as it does not allow you to benefit from gravity on the negative part of the rep. On the contrary, you will actually be fighting the downward pull of gravity to keep the plate level with your chest.
To perform the standing plate, stand upright with your chest out and shoulders pulled back. Keep your legs straight and your feet firmly planted on the ground at shoulder width.
Take hold of a weight plate and hold it by squeezing your palms together just below the center hole.
Start with the weight against your chest and you elbows pinched in at your sides. Now press the plate directly out in front of you to full arms extension. Make sure that you are squeezing tight throughout the entire movement.
Bring the plate back to the start position, working hard to resist the downward pull of gravity as you squeeze your palms into the plate.
Making it Harder
There are two ways to increase the intensity harder. The first is obvious – use a heavier weight plate. Only do this, however, when you are able to perform 10-12 reps with perfect form.
The second way to increase the intensity is to use two plates rather than one. That doesn’t mean that you have to double the resistance. Rather than using a 10-pound plate, use two 5 pounders. The extra effort required to keep the plates together will make the move a lot harder.
When to do the Plate Pinch Press
We do not advocate the plate pinch press as a replacement for the traditional bench press. Rather, it should be used as a finishing move at the end of your workout. After you hit the upper pecs with incline pressing work and the lower pecs with dips and decline work, this move will allow you to hit that hard to get to inner part of your chest AND allow you to walk out of the gym with the greatest pump you’ve ever experienced.
The Inner Chest Challenge
Most guys have difficulty isolating and targeting the inner part of the chest. The inner chest is not a separate muscle group so there is no exercise that will specifically work the inner chest fibers in isolation. You will be working the whole chest, but you are able to place emphasis on the inner chest.
The chest is made up of two muscle groups; the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. We all know how to target these muscle groups with the conventional exercises, such as presses, flys and dips. Check these out in our Best Chest Workout.
But hitting the inner chest is something else again. Often, the front delts will take the emphasis of the load, robbing the pecs, including the inner part, of the tension that it needs to respond.
People who have long limbs will find it especially difficult to target the inner pecs. Their arms tend to take over the pressing movement, again taking tension away from the pecs. It prevents us from getting a pec squeeze at the top of the movement.
Yet, there is a way to target the inner pecs and it involves hitting the chest from a direction that you don’t normally work it. The chest muscles allow you to push your arms away from your body. But they also allow you move your arms across your body. The fly exercise mimics this movement but doesn’t give much tension as the dumbbells come together above your chest.
That is where the plate pinch press comes into its own. The key movement of this exercise is not the press upward. Rather, it is the squeeze inward which. This isometric force, in combination with the pushing movement, provides direct stimulation to the inner portion of both of your pectoral muscles, the major and the minor.
While you cannot totally isolate the inner pecs, this exercise will provide you with about a 60 / 40 split between the inner and outer pecs.
The Grip Change Myth
There’s an age-old piece of advice that tells us that you can hit different parts of the chest (as in inner and outer). It’s clear to see why – to hit the outer lasts, you take a wide grip on the bar. To target the inner biceps, you take a close grip on the bar. The problem is the same does NOT hold true for the chest.
When you’re doing the bench press, you are hovering a lot of weight above your rib cage. Proper hand placement is vital to, not only having the tight form, but keeping yourself safe. If your hands are too close together, you will be targeting your triceps, not your inner pecs. If you go too heavy with a closer grip, you will also place an inordinate amount of stress on the wrists.
On the other hand, if your grip is too wide you will be decreasing the range of motion and it will be a challenge to re-rack the weight on the bar.
As mentioned, earlier, the plate pinch press is ideally used as a finishing move to ensure that your pecs are worked to their absolute maximum. The following workout will do just that, while also ensuring that every other part of the chest gets fully worked.
- Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 x 12/10/8/6
- Floor Flys – 3 x 12
- Incline Press – 3 x 8-10
- Dips – 3 x as many reps as possible
- Gironda Push Ups – 3 x as many reps as possible
- Plate Pinch Press – 3 x 10
Note: Dips and the Gironda Push Up should be done as a superset, with no rest between each exercise. Then rest 60-90 seconds before doing the next set. To perform the Gironda Push Up, set up three benches so that one provides a base for your feet and the other two for your arms. Get on the benches and perform a push up in this position. This will allow you to stretch your pecs down lower than you would be able to when performing a conventional push up. You should also bend you knees on the descent on each rep to allow you to get maximum depth.
The Plate pinch press is an old school inner pec builder that definitely deserves to be resurrected. Now that we’ve alerted you to it, start putting it into practice on chest day and you will definitely feel the burn!