Svend Press to Work Your Chest With One Dumbbell

Svend Press

The Svend Press is the less popular cousin of the incline and flat bench press. It offers many of the same benefits but works in a different way, and many people don’t even know about it, which is a shame.

We really like the Svend Press because it’s a simple exercise to perform. All you need is a dumbbell! And you don’t need a floor mat, bench press, or step in order to work your chest very effectively.

And it also works multiple muscle groups, so that’s a bonus as well. There are some keys to making sure you perform the exercise correctly, so make sure to read some of these caveats below. 

Read on to learn what Svend presses are, how to do them, why you should, and much more.

Table of Contents

What is the Svend Press?

The Svend press is a simple push exercise designed to train the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Unlike the classic bench press, where you lie down and press a weight toward the ceiling, you can do the Svend press in two ways:

  • From a lying position
  • While standing (a simpler process)

Each offers some benefits, but we recommend focusing on the lying version simply because of its greater potential for overload.

How to Perform the Svend Press (Step-by-Step)

Lying version (this is also called a Crush Press):

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells (preferably hexagonal) and lie on an incline gym bench.
  2. Place the weights on your chest, push them together, and retract your shoulder blades.
  3. Take a deep breath, engage your abs, and press the dumbbells until your elbows extend. Keep the weights together.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells to your chest as you exhale.

Standing version (our favorite):

  1. Grab a dumbbell (or weight plate) and squeeze it between your hands.
  2. Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and inhale. Make sure to maintain good posture throughout.
  3. Your hands should be level with your nipple line, or maybe a few inches below. You don’t want to get your hands too low, or it becomes more biceps and less chest.
  4. Press the weight forward until your arms are straight (or nearly straight), keeping the dumbbell level as you extend your arms out.
  5. Pause briefly and bring the weight back to your chest as you exhale.
NOTE: Make sure you feel your chest engage and activate as you extend the dumbbell out. You want to feel a strong pinch in your pecs to fully engage your chest.

What Muscles Does This Press Work?

Both Svend press variations train the shoulders, chest, triceps, and serratus anterior (the boxer’s muscle). (1)

The standing version also involves the midsection (abs, lower back, obliques, transverse abdominis, etc.) to a greater degree because of the greater stability demand.

In contrast, the lying version doesn’t build as much core strength but allows for more significant overloading of the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

What Makes It Special (and Beneficial)?

Home Workout A Lean LifeOne notable benefit of the Svend press is that it is an effective variation trainees can use to build pressing strength or emphasize the chest with a lighter weight. Unlike other pressing exercises, the Svend press requires that trainees squeeze their hands together, which can improve chest activation.

Another benefit is that trainees can pick from two effective variations: standing or lying. The former is more useful if you want to train your chest, shoulders, and triceps with a lighter weight.

In contrast, the latter allows for greater overload and superior strength development.

Plus, the Svend press is a simple exercise you can do at home with just a pair of dumbbells. It would probably be best to have at least a step to elevate your torso for the lying variation.

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Final Suggestions and Tips

Stay safe by always warming up before training, especially when performing the lying Svend press variation. (2)

Begin with some light cardio to prepare your body: jogging in place, high knees, treadmill walking, jumping jacks, etc. Do the activity for a few minutes at a manageable pace, then transition to dynamic stretching: arm swings, shoulder rotations, wrist twists, etc.

Once finished, begin with some light sets of the Svend press to further prepare your muscles and reduce the injury risk.

Click for more dumbbell workouts, and also to see our dumbbell video workouts.

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Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of He has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

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  1. Anatomy, thorax, serratus anterior muscles – NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.).
  2. Elizabeth Quinn, M. S. (2020, March 13). Prevent injuries. Verywell Fit.

Click to see our medical disclosure.