What Is Svend Press? Learn Proper Form, Muscles Used, Benefits And Variations

Are you tired of the same old chest exercises? Want to try something new and effective? Look no further than the Svend press, named after 2001 World’s Strongest Man winner Svend Karlsen. Despite its simple appearance, don’t be fooled – this exercise packs a punch when it comes to targeting the chest and building hypertrophy.

The Svend press is a unique exercise that can be performed at home with minimal equipment, making it a great alternative to traditional chest exercises that require a bench. It primarily targets the chest, but also works the shoulders and triceps to a lesser degree.

In this exercise guide, we’ll dive into the proper form and technique for performing the Svend press. We’ll also explore the benefits of incorporating this exercise into your strength training routine, as well as variations you can try to keep things interesting. So grab a couple of light weight plates and get ready to feel the burn with the Svend press. Trust us, it may look simple, but it packs a punch!

What Is Svend Press?

The Svend Press is a unique chest exercise that is designed to work your chest muscles in a different way than traditional chest exercises like the bench press. It is named after 2001 World’s Strongest Man winner Svend Karlsen, who is known for his ability to press logs overhead and load Atlas stones.

The exercise is performed by taking two plates and pushing them together with your palms at chest height, then slowly pushing your hands outwards while constantly pushing against the plates. This creates an isometric contraction in the chest muscles and helps to increase muscle hypertrophy and definition.

The Svend Press can be done standing or on a bench, and it can be integrated into your chest workout as a warm-up or finisher, or as a superset with other chest exercises. It is a great exercise for those looking to isolate their chest muscles and improve the mind-muscle connection. It is a deceptively difficult exercise that will force you to use the full power of your chest, arms, and upper body to bear.

How To Do Svend Press

Man demonstrating how to perform Svend press exercise.

The Svend Press is an exercise that may seem like a traditional pressing movement, but it actually targets the chest muscles specifically. This movement is designed to isolate the chest muscles and make it difficult to use other muscle groups to complete the exercise. Here’s how to properly perform the Svend press.

  1. Begin by placing two weight plates (take two 10-pound plates or five-pound plates) together and gripping them tightly with your hands.
  2. Stand with a straight back and a firm stance.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and hold the plates against your chest.
  4. Take a deep breath in and brace your core, glutes, chest, and hands.
  5. Slowly extend your hands out in front of you, simultaneously pressing upwards and inwards.
  6. Continue until your elbows are fully extended and you feel a strong contraction in your chest.
  7. Hold the contraction for a moment before returning to the starting position.
  8. Exhale and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Muscles Worked In Svend Press

The Svend press is a pressing exercise that primarily targets the pectoral muscles. This exercise creates isometric tension at the top of the lift, and the pectoral muscles are engaged and working hard throughout the entire movement.

What Is Svend Press? Learn Proper Form, Muscles Used, Benefits And Variations

Establishing a mind-muscle connection and achieving a pump while performing the exercise might require some practice, but once mastered it can become an effective tool for developing the chest.

Additionally, the Svend press also engages the anterior deltoid and triceps muscles. However, it is important to note that if you feel tension in your biceps during the exercise, you may be using too heavy of a weight and should try again with a lighter weight. The Svend press is especially effective in challenging the inner pecs due to its range of motion and the isometric tension created at the top of the lift.

Common Svend Press Mistakes

The Svend press looks deceptively simple, but it is quite easy to make mistakes while doing it, here are a few mistakes you need to keep in mind.

Don’t Go Too Heavy

When performing the Svend press, it’s important to remember that just because you can lift more weight, doesn’t mean you should. To get the most out of this exercise, it’s recommended to use no more than two 10-pound plates, totalling 20 pounds. This is because the main goal of the Svend press is muscle activation, rather than brute strength.

Man demonstrating how to perform Svend press exercise.

Using too heavy of a weight can cause your form to slip, which can lead to overcompensating with your shoulders or hunching your back. This can decrease the effectiveness of the exercise and hinder muscle growth.

Focus On Squeezing The Plates

To maximize the benefits of the Svend press, it’s important to focus on squeezing the plates together throughout the movement. This helps to activate the chest muscles as much as possible. However, if you’re not squeezing the plates together enough, you’ll only see minimal results. It’s crucial to concentrate on forcing the plates together for optimal results.

Don’t Rush The Reps

It’s important to take your time when performing the Svend press, even if you’re using light weight. Going through the motions mindlessly will not lead to the muscle growth you’re looking for. Instead, take your time and move as slowly as possible while maintaining a consistent tempo. This helps to maximize time under tension, which is vital for quality muscle growth.

Don’t Move Arms At An Angel

If you want to get the most out of this exercise, you should keep your arms parallel to the floor the whole time.

If you lower your arms or raise them above shoulder height, your delts will work harder. Focus on getting your form right instead of trying to lift heavier weights.

Benefits Of The Svend Press

Below are some of the key benefits the Svend press offers those who embark on this chest training variation.

More Chest Muscle

There’s nothing worse than cranking out an awesome set of bench presses only to hit the “triceps wall,” where your pecs and shoulders barely feel fatigued but you just can’t lock out that next rep. You can work around this using specialized movements (the reverse-band incline press is a great one), but ultimately, your smaller triceps muscles will often be a limiting factor in pressing-heavy routines.

What Is Svend Press? Learn Proper Form, Muscles Used, Benefits And Variations

The Svend press is a good exercise option if you are looking to increase muscle growth without overloading your triceps or shoulder muscles.

It’s Joint-Friendly

The rotator cuff’s small muscles support your shoulder girdle, often fatigue far before your pecs, shoulders, and triceps — even when you’re using good form. A strained rotator cuff can derail your progress in the short term, and — in serious cases — even lead to a major injury.

While proper prehab movements can help to keep your rotator cuffs healthy, an overabundance of pressing movements can undermine even the best mobility routines. The Svend press can be a great way to minimize strain on your shoulder joints and rotator cuff while still increasing muscle growth of the chest muscles.

Isolates Chest Muscle

This exercise is great for isolating your chest muscles and working on that muscle activation that can sometimes be tough to target with other compound movements. So, if you’re a bodybuilder looking to sculpt your chest or a powerlifter looking to boost your bench press, the Svend press is definitely worth adding to your routine.

Improves Mind-Muscle Connection

The Svend press is an effective exercise to improve muscle pumps while training your chest. Additionally, the mind-muscle connection that is established during the Svend press can be transferred to other chest exercises, making them more effective.

If you’re someone who struggles with establishing a mind-muscle connection during chest training, adding the Svend press to your routine can be beneficial.

Svend Press Variations

Here are three variations of the Svend press that can be used by coaches and athletes to add variety and progression to their training.

1. Cable Svend Press

The Cable Svend Press is a variation of the regular Svend press that can be done using a cable machine. The exercise is done by setting the pulley of the cable machine to shoulder height and performing the Svend press by pressing outwards, away from the body.

The cables will pull your hands apart, making your chest work harder to keep your hands pressed together as you reach out away from your body. It’s a great way to add variety and progression to your training.

2. Dumbbell Hex Press

The Dumbbell Hex Press is a variation of the Svend press that combines the use of dumbbells. You lie back on a bench, press two dumbbells together, and perform a dumbbell press. This variation allows you to use heavier weights and still get the same muscle contraction as the regular Svend press.

However, it’s important to note that using heavier weights can put more stress on the shoulders. It’s a great alternative for those who want to try and lift heavier loads using the Svend press methodology.

3. Floor Svend Press

The Floor Svend Press is a variation of the regular Svend press that is done on the floor. It combines the benefits of the floor press, such as improved scapular stability and reinforced proper back tension, with the benefits of the Svend press.

This variation is especially useful for individuals who have difficulty stabilizing their back or maintaining the proper shoulder position while lowering the weights. It is a great move for those who want to improve their form and target specific muscle groups.

Take Away

The Svend press is a unique and challenging exercise that targets the pectoral muscles while also engaging the shoulders, triceps and core. It is a great addition to any chest workout routine as it improves muscle pumps, mind-muscle connection, and form.

Additionally, the variation of this exercise like Cable Svend Press, Dumbbell Hex Press, and Floor Svend Press can also be used to add variety and progression to your training.

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