Plate Press Exercise For Chest

Traditional bench press exercises don’t specifically target your inner chest. So if you want to work on creating a defined mid-chest split, you need a different movement.

The plate press is one of the best exercises for developing your inner chest. In this article, I show you how to do a plate press with detailed instructions and a brief video tutorial.

Plus I give you a few different variations to fit your gym equipment and body shaping goals.

Plate Press Exercise

What Is A Plate Press?

The plate press is a chest exercise where you pinch a weight plate between your hands throughout the bench press movement. For this reason, it’s sometimes called a plate pinch press or a plate squeeze press.

Most of the time, this exercise is performed with a single weight plate ranging from 5 to 45 lbs. But you could also squeeze two plates together to make the exercise even more challenging.

Plate Press Muscles Worked

As with any pressing movement, the primary muscle group worked is the pectorals or chest. However, unlike ordinary bench press, the plate press specifically targets the inner chest.

The reason is that you have to apply an inward force with your hands to keep the plate from sliding out of your grip. Also, the close hand position works more triceps compared to a traditional bench press.

Hex Press Muscles Worked

Figure 1. The purple shading represents the area of greatest muscle activation.

Benefits & Limitations

The plate press exercise can be a nice addition to your chest workout for sculpting your pectorals to get the size and shape you want. But keep in mind, this exercise is not ideal when it comes to building overall chest mass.

Pros

  • Builds inner chest
  • Alleviates some stress on the shoulders
  • The triceps take more of the load
  • Can reach failure with relatively light weight

Cons

  • Not the best pressing movement for overall muscle mass or strength

How To Do The Plate Press

To do this exercise, you’ll need a weight plate and a flat or adjustable bench. I recommend you start with a lighter weight that you can control easily until you get a feel for balancing the plate between your hands.

  1. Grab the plate vertically between your hands (like you’re clapping symbols)
  2. Lay back on the bench and press the plate up to arm’s length
  3. Keep squeezing the plate as you perform the bench press movement
  4. Perform the desired number of reps and drop the plate carefully

Plate Press Form

Here are some additional pointers to help you get the most inner chest activation.

  • At the top of the movement, squeeze your elbows inward to contract your inner chest
  • Lower the plate so the outside diameter touches your lower chest or sternum
  • At the bottom of the movement, keep your elbows tucked in at your sides

Use the arrow buttons below to scroll through pictures representing each of the bullet points above.

When Should You Use The Plate Press?

You should not use this exercise as a replacement for the wider grip barbell or dumbbell bench press. Instead, the plate press is best as a supplemental exercise to complement your normal chest workout.

For that reason, I recommend performing a standard pressing movement first when your strength is the greatest. Then do the plate press as a secondary exercise.

For best results, use a lighter weight for 8-12 reps to maximize muscle growth. Or use it as a burnout exercise at the end of your workout.

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Plate Press Variations

There are a few different variations of this exercise that you can use depending on which area of your chest you’re targeting and what equipment you have available.

Incline Plate Press

An incline bench press changes the angle of your arms in relation to your body. A steeper angle results in more upper chest activation.

Therefore, an incline plate press targets both your upper and inner chest. Perfect for building that “Y” shaped split as shown in Figure 1.

For this exercise, you’ll want to set an adjustable bench at an incline of approximately 30-45 degrees. This angle hits your upper chest without involving too much anterior deltoid.

Dumbbell Hex Press

A hex press is very similar to a plate press except you use dumbbells instead of a weight plate. And it requires a little less balance since the dumbbells have handles. So you can go a little heavier in weight.

During this exercise, you hold dumbbells together and keep them touching throughout the movement. For six-sided dumbbells, the flat faces will be in contact. Hence, the name hex press.

Close Grip Pushup

Lastly, you could substitute a close grip pushup if you’re working out at home with limited equipment.

For this exercise, start by laying on the floor face down. Now position your hands near your ribs with your elbows tucked in at your sides. From this starting position, perform the pushup as normal.

If you have a pair of dumbbells, you can place them side by side to replicate the hex press grip during your pushups. And wrap a resistance band around your back to make it more challenging.

Hypertrophy Training Program

The plate press is an excellent addition to your chest day workouts. But if you really want to reach your fitness goals, you need a complete resistance training plan designed for muscle gain.

In order to maximize muscle growth (aka hypertrophy), you should adjust 10 specific training variables. Check out my free hypertrophy training program to see how to optimize your workouts.

With this information, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your fitness goals. And if you found this exercise tutorial helpful, click on the articles below for more workout tips!

How to Build Chest Muscle

A big chest doesn’t have to be the stuff of mythology and fantasy.  Unless you’ve been dealt a very unlucky hand genetically, you can build a big chest too!  Chances are you simply haven’t structured your training for maximum growth.  In this article you will learn how to build chest muscle with a killer chest workout designed for optimal growth.

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