French bench press

French bench press

One of the most effective exercises is the French bench press. Despite the huge popularity of basic exercises, for most athletes the notion of stupor in bench press is known. And, unfortunately, without the inclusion of isolating complexes, it is not possible to break through the power plateau.

The essence of the exercise

The French press bench is an exclusively insulating exercise. With an ideal technique, no muscles other than triceps are involved. In addition, the head, on which the load is stressed, depends on the position of the housing. So, for example, in bench press – the accent is on the medial head. At the same time, if you perform a French bench press, the accent is shifted to the lateral head.

If the technique is violated, most of the work can be eaten by abdominal muscles or, worse still, by the latissimus muscles of the back. Press of dumbbells standing is a good exercise to pump shoulders muscles.

In the rest it is an almost ideal isolating exercise, the work in which should take place within the same elbow joint without the twists of the brushes and supination, so that the level of the load can be clearly recorded. At the same time, the French bench press with large weights (what the advanced athletes like to do) is highly discouraged because of the very heavy burden on the joint itself.

The essence of french press
The essence of french press


Muscular atlas

Consider how the French press uses the main muscle groups:

Muscular group Load With violation / without Type of violation
Lateral head of triceps Stable Without violations Pure
Medial head of the triceps Accentuating Without violations Pure
Long head of the triceps Stabilizing Without violations With the change in the elbows’ position relative to the body
Upper bundle of pectoral Stabilizing In violation of With movements in the shoulder joint along the body
Gear muscles Accentuated In violation of With movements in the shoulder joint along the body
Abdominal muscles Dynamic In violation of With movements in the shoulder joint along the body
The widest back muscles Dynamically accented In violation of With broaching in the shoulder joint at runtime
Muscles of the wrist Static stabilizing Without violations Pure

As can be seen from the muscular atlas, with proper operation, the load falls solely on the three head of the triceps, and the stabilizer is the brush, which holds the weight in the hand. In this case, the use of various griffins and changing the position of the hands at the starting stage only change the emphasis of the load, changing it from one head of the triceps to another.

Exercise technique

The correct technique of performing the French press is quite simple to master, however, the correct execution of the technique requires a long development with small scales.

  1. For the correct French press, use a horizontal bench.
  2. Then you need to take the bar.

Selection of weight to the rod is carried out in the form of 30% of the working weight in the bench. This is the base weight with which you can begin the exercise.

  1. Hvat on the bar with an open lock. For many, it will seem inconvenient. But the opposed thumb will not allow you to throw the bar from your hand in case of an emergency weight loss in case of a technical violation.
  2. The position of the arms on the rod is as narrow as possible.
  3. Hands are exposed directly above the head in a fully extended state.
  4. Further – without making the movement of the shoulders, it is necessary to lower the bar slightly by the head, i.e. working exclusively at the elbow joint.
  5. Unbend arms without the aid of the shoulder joint.
French press technique
French press technique


The French bench press, like other isolation exercises, has a number of advantages and some variation in technique. In particular, there are two main variations of this exercise:

  1. With the use of W neck.
  2. Using a dumbbell.

With W-Class

The use of the W-neck is a simplification that was invented in the US no earlier than the 1980s. All this was due to the fact that the French press with heavy weights often ended with traumas for the athletes (after all, taking a very large weight and doing it correctly by the technique may not all, and sometimes without exceeding the normal working weight, not achieve much progress).

The main problem was precisely in the position of the elbows. In order to level it, it was decided to use the W griff. If you take very narrowly, so that the elbows look at each other – you can use the elbow extension. Thus, due to “mistakes” in technology, the situation is normalized, which will reduce the trauma of French bench press.

At the same time, the W-neck has a shorter length, which reduces the expenditure of effort on balancing the hull and rod. The short neck, which has the same length of lever, and most importantly – allows you to load the bar quite heavily – is the ideal solution for those who chose the French bench press as the main exercise for triceps growth.

With a dumbbell

Variations on the theme of the French press with a dumbbell is designed to work out a lagging hand. How to do the French bench press with a dumbbell:

  1. For the correct French press, use a horizontal bench.
  2. Next, you need to take a dumbbell (half of the weight of the bar for this exercise)
  3. The hand is exposed directly above the head in a fully extended state.
  4. Further – without making the movement of the shoulders, it is necessary to lower the dumbbell slightly behind the head, i.e. working exclusively at the elbow joint.
  5. Unbend the arm without the aid of the shoulder joint.

To fix the hand in the correct position, the position of the elbow and shoulder can be adjusted with the second hand.

Performed alternately with both hands, while the number of repetitions and weight should be adjusted for lagging. This is the only way to achieve a harmonious development of both triceps.

What should I look for?

It seems that everything is very simple, but there are several important features about which many forget.

  1. Breath. Despite the fact that this exercise is insulating and is performed with small scales it is important to catch the correct pace of breathing. In particular, you do not need to hold your breath or work at full breath. In the first case, without a tempo, you can get hypoxia. And in case of holding the breath – the enlarged thoracic diaphragm will move the shoulders, which will not allow performing the correct execution with a lot of weight.
  2. Correct position of elbows. In particular, this is an important point. The elbows must be parallel to each other, and the movement must pass only along one axis (up / down). Many athletes begin to perform the exercise, bending their elbows to the sides. This facilitates the lifting of a heavier weight, instead of increasing the load on the elbow joint, which can lead to dislocation or abrasion of the joint.
  3. The initial position of the hands. Depending on the level at which the hands are placed relative to the body, the head will be focused on. In addition, one should not forget that if you get your hands across the head far behind your head, then a change in the center of gravity will force the back muscles to be included to bring the body to its normal position, which completely turns the French press into an exercise called “bench press”
French press technique
French press technique

Than it is possible to replace?

Because of the high traumatic danger, this exercise is not recommended for beginners. However, for those who want to really powerfully work the triceps, you can recommend the following exercises:

  1. French press with a standing dumbbell. It has a more natural amplitude and simple technique, which significantly reduces the likelihood of injury.
  2. Vertical bench press / army bench press . Despite the complex component of the exercise, most of the burden falls all the same on the triceps.
  3. The use of crossovers for the development of a particular head.
  4. Use of a moving block to create an accent on this or that triceps head.
  5. Dumbbell extension in slope .

The result

French bench press is not the most popular exercise in the gym, because of the complicated technique, relatively small scales (which do not allow to show off before friends) and high traumatic danger, it is practically not used for triceps development. Instead, it is sufficient to take several types of bench exercises, but for the purpose of using extensor arms on the block. The use of the French press is justified either only for professionals who stress the load on a particular muscle group, well, or as an alternative, only in a room with free weights.