The Svend press exercise guide


The Svend press exercise guide

The Svend press is perhaps a lesser known chest exercise. Supposedly Svend Karlsen who was 2001’s “World’s Strongest Man” coined the phrase and name for this chest exercise. He for sure knows a thing or two about lifting heavy ob­jects. Contrary to his normal ton­nage, however, his namesake exer­cise, the Svend press, is less intense than pulling a double-decker bus. Despite being done with light weight, this auxiliary move elicits a massive amount of tension on the chest for bigger, more resilient pecs.

In bodybuilding literature this exercise is also known as a “weight plate pinch press”. Most likely you are not familiar with any of these names, however, we’re sure you will recognize this movement (the action of squeezing the plates together) by looking at the images and video presented  in this article.

The Svend press (weight plate pinch press) specifically targets the pectoral muscles, and is a great movement to limit the involvement of secondary muscles that are often recruited when doing other popular chest training movements; like bench pressing, dips, and even push ups.

This exercise is not a major mass-building exercise. We use it primarily as a shaping movement. It has the ability to maximize pectoral involvement throughout isolating the chest muscles and minimizing the usage of larger muscle groups like the lats, triceps, and shoulders; all of which assist in typical pressing movements.

In this post we’ll discuss about the correct technique for this exercise, offer exercise how-to-video demonstrations, and highlight the key benefits and value that this simple and effective accessory movement can offer coaches and athletes looking to maximize chest development. You must agree that this movement is very simple. To perform the Svend press exercise you need only two small weight plates and enough space to extend your arms in front of you.

The Svend press is unconventional but that doesn’t make it any less of a functional exercise. Therefore you definitely should try implementing the Svend press to improve your chest training days. This will for sure take your chest day to the next level.

Exercise instructions: Performing Svend press with proper form

What you really want to do for this exercise is to squeeze the weight plate between the palms of your hands and feel your inner chest contracting. This is the key part of doing this exercise. Here are more detailed instructions on how to perform weight plate pinch press.


  • Get two small weight plates (2 -10 kg plates should be enough weight).
  • Stand up straight with legs shoulder distance apart.
  • Clasp the weight plates with both hands in an “arrow shape” and raise them up to the centerline of your chest with your fingers pointing forward. You should raise your elbows so that your arms are parallel with the floor.
  • Bring your lower back in, pull your shoulders back, and stick out your chest.

Sven press exercise for the chest


  • Press the plates hard against one another to make your chest contract forcefully.
  • Keeping the plates pushed hard together slowly extend your elbows and push the plate straight out in front of you without locking your elbows while simultaneously squeezing your chest muscles. Exhale while doing this part of the exercise.
  • Hold for a count of two and squeeze your chest muscles even more if possible.
  • Inhale as you slowly pull the plates back in to your chest while trying to keep as much tension as possible in the chest and between your hands throughout.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise tips & tricks

Here are some helpful hints (key elements to consider) on how to perform the Svend chest press exercise safely and effectively.

  • Always keep your elbows closed to your sides.
  • This whole movement should occur in the horizontal plane, so you will want to keep your arms parallel to the ground throughout the exercise.
  • Start with low weights. This will allow you to get a feel for the movement and troubleshoot any issues with form before moving on to more challenging weights.
  • Maintain constant tension throughout the movement.
  • The harder you press the plates together, the harder the contraction of the chest, and a bigger contraction leads to greater gains.
  • Slower controlled motions will make this exercise more effective. Fast pulsing motions will not activate all of the muscles in your chest and will also put a strain on your shoulders, defeating the purpose of the exercise.

Exercise variations

  • You can perform this exercise while lying on your back (supine). This places more emphasis on your pectoralis major and triceps brachii, whereas the standing variation places more emphasis on your pectoralis major and front shoulders (anterior deltoid).
  • Perform this exercise while lying on an incline or decline bench.
  • If you’re at home and don’t own weight plates, use two appropriately weighted books.
  • You can do this exercise by selecting either a single heavier plate or a pair of lighter plates. However, two plates are better than one, so that you can really concentrate on keeping them together with that squeezing motion we are here to develop.

Muscle engaged

  • Main muscles: lower (sternal) pectoralis major
  • Synergists: upper (clavicular) pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps brachii

The Svend press works your chest muscles, specifically the pectorals. You can minimize involvement of your shoulders (anterior deltoid muscles) by not holding hands too high in air. If you are holding your hands too high in the air the majority of the workload from a standing position will be taken by your shoulders and arms, with very little going into your chest.

Benefits of doing the Svend chest press exercise

  • This form of the press will help create definition in the inner portion of the pec muscles, as well as challenging your shoulders.
  • This exercise puts your chest through an extended period of tension because you have to constantly squeeze the plates. 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.
  • The Svend chest press exercise will also help you enhance the mind-muscle connection you have with your pectoral muscles. While it’s true that you are maintaining the inner pec muscles 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.

Best time to perform the Svend press exercise

So what are the best ways to incorporate this exercise into your workout?

  • The Svend Press is a perfect finisher to get a final pump at the end of your chest workout.
  • You can use it to warm up your chest at the start of a chest workout.
  • Do it as a standalone movement on your non-chest working days.

The Svend press video demonstration

This video will show you exactly how to perform this exercise safely and effectively.

Closing thoughts

The Svend press is an exercise that targets the chest by performing presses while squeezing two weight plates together.

People usually perform this exercise with relatively high reps and using light weights as an accessory movement to the bench press, or as a burnout movement on chest day. Slightly higher rep range will drive a lot of blood into the muscles. A few sets of 12-15 reps is what we suggest for this exercise.

The biggest benefit of the Svend press is the use of an isometric contraction throughout the entire exercise. During the exercise, you are forced to squeeze your hands together out in front of your body. This forces your arms across your chest and gives your pectoral muscles no choice but to contract.

The Svend chest press exercise alone won’t cause significant chest mass, but when combined with benching and dumbbell presses, a dramatic effect will be seen within the first few weeks. Therefore, it’s 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.

About Author

Hey! My name is Kruno, and I'm the owner and author of Bodybuilding Wizard. I started this website back in late 2014, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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