Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the basic overhead press and the bench press as an objective measure on upper body strength but that doesn’t mean they are the only upper body lifts that improve strength and power. The Pin Press is a great alternative to bench press and something I cycle into my athletes (and my own) training programs within a yearly training plan to develop pressing strength.
Here’s just a few reasons why I like it;
- Easy on the shoulder
This movement has less range of motion than the bench press depending on how it’s set up, which can make it an easy , coupled with a unload/ reload action when doing reps (that’s what I coach, and it lessens time under tension). Working with athletes who have shoulder ‘niggles’ (but cleared to train from medics) and having gone through two operations myself (sport related) experience has taught me this movement works for developing strength while concurrently fixing/ rehabbing a so called ‘niggle’.
- Correlation to the bench
The Bench Press is a good universal and objective measure of upper body strength: arms locked, then lower a loaded bar to the chest and lock arms out again without performing a glute bridge. Simple. I like it. I use it. I track it. This might be somewhat unsurprising, but an increase in Pin Press = an increase in Bench Press. For some athletes, it’s a ‘r = 1’ / perfect correlation (Pin Press goes up by 10kg…Bench Press goes up by 10kg) and for others it might be slightly less. This follows the Westside Barbell notion that getting stronger on a movement variation will allow for a personal best on the core/ KPI lift when you cycle it back in. Needless to say, setting the correct height for the pins is important – so what is the correct height? Answer: there isn’t one. Just chose a position you want to get stronger in and cycle it for 3-9weeks varying volume/ intensity until you need/ want to change the exercise. Side note, I’ve found that setting that barbell low (2″ from the chest) is ideal for transferring to Bench Press.
- Training Solo
It’s a good option to cycle in if you’re lifting alone because you can load it up to maximal weights (if that’s where you are in the programming) and no require a spotter as you should be in a cage or half rack (video below).