Plate Pinch Press – Muscles Worked, Exercise Demo, and Benefits

To build a bigger chest, many of us turn to more volume and heavy bench pressing. While these methods are key to building solid slabs of muscle and maximizing growth, they can often lead to overtraining and joint issues if done over and over and over. Movements like the plate pinch press can be integrated into chest workouts to increase muscle hypertrophy and create a chiseled and defined pectorals, all while helping to minimize and limit shoulder (anterior shoulder) and overuse.

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In this article we will discuss plate pinch presses, 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.

Muscles Worked

The 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. Below are the key muscles worked when performing plate pinch presses.

  • Pectorals (chest)
  • Triceps (lateral head primarily)
  • Anterior Deltoid (minimize involvement by not holding hands too high in air)

Plate Pinch Press Exercise Demo (Chest)

In the below video, the plate pinch press is demonstrated. Note, this movement can be done using very little weight. Performing this movement with slow, controlled, and forced contractions is key to increasing time under tension and muscular engagement. Additionally, this movement can be performed standing or lying on a bench, using a wide variety of angles.

Benefits of the Plate Pinch Press (Chest)

Below are five benefits that coaches and athletes can expect to gain from performing the plate pinch press within chest workouts. Note, that this movement does not necessarily replace bench pressing as a whole, but can offer us unique and balanced approach to maximizing chest and pressing development.

Increased Time Under Tension

The plate pinch press involved a low load of resistance, as the lifter is often using 5-10lb plates, typically only 2-3 at a time. The key with this movement is not to move as much weight as possible, but rather to maximize tension and forcefully contract the pectorals throughout the entire range of motion. Sets of time repetitions or to complete exhaustion can be done to force muscular recruitment and fatigue, often performing sets lasting 45-90 seconds.

Isolation of the Pectoral Muscles

Bench presses, dips, and other popular chest movements do a wonderful job at building strength and muscular hypertrophy, however repetitive training of such movements can result in shoulder and elbow stress in some individuals. The plate pinch press 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.

Train Chest Around Injury

Shoulder, elbow, and even wrist injury can plague chest training, as movements like the bench press, dips, and push ups can place strain and stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. In times of injury, isometrics and load loaded isolation movements can be used to rehabilitate muscle groups and/or provide enough stimulus to help athletes maintain muscle “pump” and being able to train around injuries.

Minimal Equipment Needed

The plate pinch press requires 2-3 plates, often performed with 5-25 lbs (per plate). While heavier presses can be done, the focus should be on the squeeze and tension created from pinching the plates between the hands is the key to developing muscular engagement. The ability to get a good muscle pump with load load and minimal equipment makes the plate pinch press a go-to movement for lifters of all levels and resources.

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.