Svend Press Exercise: Build A Strong And Big Chest

Table Of Content

What Is A Svend Press?

The Svend press is a lesser-known chest exercise that can deliver great results in building more chest muscles. This pressing exercise creates a good mind-muscle connection, while at the same time giving you a great pump.

Therefore, improving your chest muscles (pecs) by stimulating muscle growth through a challenging and unique stimulus.

On the surface, the Svend press looks like a classical pressing movement, but the nature of this exercise allows nearly no other muscle activation other than the chest muscles – your pecs. By holding two weight plates together, while moving them through the full range of motion.

Don’t be deceived by the seemingly unimpressive appearance of the Svend press. This exercise can deliver great muscle growth and chest hypertrophy.

Therefore, this bodybuilding movement is a good addition to your chest workouts and strength program for your upper body.

Why Is It Called The Svend Press?

The Svend press is named after the 2001 World’s Strongest Man winner Svend Karlsen. That’s right, a man famous for pressing logs overhead and loading Atlas stones created a move that requires 20 pounds — at most.

How To Do The Svend Press

Here you find a step-by-step guide on how to perform the Svend press:

Step 1: Press Two Weight Plates Together

Stand tall and upright in a shoulder-width stance and take two lighter plates – 10-pound-plates or five-pound plates. Then, use your hands to press the two plates against each other.

Hold the weight plates together and position them in front and the middle of your chest – keep your shoulder blades squeeze back. Make contact between the plates and your chest, while your elbows should be slightly flared out.

This is your starting position. Here, you should already feel your chest muscles working.

Tip: To stimulate your targeted muscles effectively and achieve a good pump, focus on squeezing mainly your chest muscles (pecs), while you press the plates as hard as you can together. This is a great way to build the mind-muscle connection when you perform the Svend press.

Step 2: Press The Plates Away From Your Body – Inwards And Upwards

From the starting position, push the weight plates away from your body. Until your arms are straightened out and slightly up. Your elbows should be completely locked out.

While performing the Svend press, keep the plates pressed firmly together through the entire movement.

At the top of the movement, pause and squeeze your pecs to your maximum. Then, using a controlled motion, slowly return to the starting position.

Tip: To maintain constant tension in your pecs, keep your torso erect and your chest up. Remember that you are focusing on a mind-muscle connection – you are performing this chest exercise under slow and controlled movement while holding the squeeze for optimal pectoral engagement.

Advanced Difficulty: For more pectoral engagement during this chest exercise, use your carpus (base of the hand) instead of the complete hand to press the plates against each other.

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Common Mistakes Of The Svend Press

Some of the most common Svend press mistakes to avoid include:

Rushing The Movement

As mentioned before, it is important to perform the Svend press under controlled and slow movements.

However, many lifters tend to move too fast and rush this exercise. Therefore, preventing full activation of the chest muscles.

In this chest exercise, your form is key. Ensure that you are continuously squeezing your muscles throughout the movements.

If you can’t perform slow reps, try dropping the weight.

Moving Your Arms In The Wrong Angle

Try to perform the Svend press with your arms extending more or less parallel to the ground throughout the movement. This will ensure optimal chest muscle activation.

By lowering your arms too far down or lifting them above shoulder height, you will engage your delt muscles more intensely, which is not the primary target in this chest exercise.

Not Performing Full Extensions

To not restrict your muscle activation during the extension of this exercise, you should use the entire range of motion, when extending your arms.

This is a useful tip for any exercise because it will result in more muscle activation and prevent any shortening of your muscles.


Slouching your shoulder or rounding your back will lead to a wrong posture during this chest exercise. More emphasis will be on the shoulders and less tension on your chest.

When performing the Svend press keep your upper body straight – this means, having an upright torso, while your shoulders are pulled back and your chest is up.

Additionally, don’t shrug your shoulders during the performance of this exercise.

Holding Your Breath

Holding your breath during your chest workout or in general during any kind of workout routine is not good. This will lead to decreased oxygen levels in your body. Making you more fatigued, in a short amount of time.

You should exhale during the pressing movement and inhale when pulling back.

Benefits Of The Svend Press

The main benefits of the Svend press and advantages of adding this exercise to your chest workout include:

More Chest Muscle Growth

As mentioned before, you will create a different stimulus in comparison to other chest exercises. Especially to other pressing exercises like the Larsen bench press, for example.

Additionally, by using specialized movements like the Svend press, you can target specifically your pecs and avoid triceps weaknesses during different types of bench presses.

Also, try out the Tate press to strengthen your triceps and maximize your pressing numbers!

The Svend press is a good option for people who want to build more chest muscles without overloading the triceps or shoulders.

Less Strain On The Joints

This exercise not only can deliver an increase in chest muscle growth but does so while minimizing the strain on the shoulder joint and rotator cuff.

That is especially beneficial to you in contrast to a lot of high-impact exercises like the barbell or dumbbell bench press, that you probably perform regularly. Which put your shoulder and elbow joints under a significant amount of stress.

The Svend press, on the other hand, puts the majority of the focus on your chest muscles – your pecs.

Additionally, since you are performing this exercise with light weights, you reduce the risk of injury. This also makes it a great exercise for people recovering from an injury, who do not want to risk doing high-impact exercises like the bench or dumbbell press.

Better Muscle Recruitment Of The Chest 

This exercise can deliver better pectoral recruitment. This is more important to bodybuilders than powerlifters, but it’s relevant when considering a strength program, as well.

The Svend press can increase your muscle activation and prime the pectorals for other chest exercises. This includes compound movements like the bench press – for example, the Larsen Press (a bench press variation).

Improves Your Mind-Muscle Connection

An improved mind-muscle connection is beneficial in many training aspects. This will reflect in other chest exercises as well.

A Great Finish-Exercise

The Svend press is a great finisher exercise because it can be used to get an intense pump in your muscles. Especially, if you struggle to achieve a good pump while training your chest, you should add this exercise to your training routine.

Muscles Worked By The Svend Press

Below you find the primary muscles used by the Svend press – a pressing movement that increases muscle growth of the chest:

Upper And Lower Pectoralis Major – Pectoral Muscles (Your Chest)

The upper and lower pectoralis major – pectoral muscles (your chest) are the primary muscles worked by the Svend press.

Through some practice, it is possible to achieve a good mind-muscle connection and as a result a good pump. Making this exercise a good finisher to your chest workout.

The Svend press also activates the anterior deltoid and triceps muscles. This happens because of the pressing movement in this exercise.

Tip: Go for a lighter weight, if you feel the tension in your biceps.



Svend Press Chest Workout – Sets And Reps

If you want to gain more muscle mass in your chest, the Svend press can be utilized to recruit the chest muscles more efficiently.

To deliver different stimuli in your training program, try to implement different rep ranges:

For three of five sets total – rep ranges of:

  • Five to 10
  • 10-20
  • Or 20-30 reps


Svend Press Variations

Below you find different Svend Press Variations to keep variety and progress in your workout program:

Hex Press

The Hex press is a hybrid mix of two exercises – the Svend press and the dumbbell bench press. To stimulate the same muscular contraction you get from the plates during the Svend press, you press two dumbbells together as hard as you can. After that, you perform a dumbbell press by pushing the weight up and contracting your pecs at the top.

This variation of the Svend press is great for those who want to lift heavier loads while performing the movement. But keep in mind that your shoulders will feel more stress the heavier you go.

You can also do this exercise with an incline bench. The incline dumbbell Hex press is performed the same as the normal exercise, but you are targeting more of the upper chest with the incline bench.

Incline Bench Svend Press

Another variation is the incline bench Svend press. This exercise is performed with an incline bench and targets your upper pecs.

Cable Svend Press

The cable Svend press is performed with a cable machine. You use a pulley system to do the same movement as in the standard Svend press.

This can be done in a standing position with the pulley system at shoulder level. Or lying on a bench with the pulley at the lowest level.

This is a great variation of the Svend press because you have to constantly work your chest when you press away from the body. The challenge lies in keeping the hands together while feeling the tension of the pulley system. The result is again a good pump and a new stimulus to your muscles.

Floor Press Svend Press

The floor press Svend press makes a great variation because it gives you all the benefits of the floor press as well as the benefits of the Svend press. Benefits of the floor press include scapular stability and reinforcement of proper back tension.

You can perform this exercise with two plates or with dumbbells like in the video.

Dumbbell Or Kettlebell Svend Press

The last variation is a standard Svend press performed with a dumbbell or kettlebell. When using a dumbbell, squeeze the handle as hard as you can.

The same goes when using a kettlebell. Here, you press against the cannonball as hard as possible to achieve high pectoral engagement.

Svend Press Alternatives

Below you find Svend press alternatives that you can use to increase chest strength as well as muscle hypertrophy.

Spoto Press

The Spoto press is a controlled movement that is similar to the floor press and the board press. It is performed by stopping the barbell a few inches off the chest. You pause it here before you push the weight back up in the starting position.

This exercise can an athlete’s shoulder stability and pressing balance.

Dumbbell Floor Press

The dumbbell floor press is a chest press variation. This exercise can be done to target muscle imbalances, while at the same time utilizing individualized pressing angles.

Floor Press with Chains Or Resistance Bands

The floor press can be performed with chains and/or resistance bands. By adding these to the sides of the barbell you can increase your overall strength and muscle, while also improving your force development.


What Is A Pinch Press?

The Svend press is a type of pinch press. Any press that involves pressing two weights together falls under the category of pinch press.

Can I Do The Svend Press With Kettlebells?

Yes, you can do the exercise with kettlebells, but I recommend you perform it with plates, dumbbells, or cables first. If you have the necessary muscle-mind connection, it will be easier to build the tension needed when utilizing kettlebells.

What Should You Do If The Svend Presses Hurt My Shoulders?

Try to master the right technique and form as well as the mentioned mind-muscle connection to your chest. Give yourself some time to build that up and master the exercise.

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