The JM Press is a hybrid triceps exercise that works the right muscles, allowing you to lift even more weight, enhance your muscle gains, and improve your bench press. Not only that, but this triceps exercise will also help build your elbow extension strength. It was created by JM Blakley, who made the exercise a cross between the barbell skull crusher and close-grip bench press. 

While both Close-Grip Bench Presses and Skull Crushers are hallmarks of strength and muscle-building movements, your muscle volume and strength may be plateauing when exposed to the same routine. And the JM Press makes a great hack. 

Before you slide under the barbell, we’ll break down the best tips and variations and everything you need to know about this secret weapon for powerful triceps.

This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:

  • How to JM Press
  • 3 JM Press Benefits
  • Common JM Press Mistakes to Avoid
  • JM Press Muscles Worked
  • JM Press vs Skull Crusher
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
  • JM Press Variations
  • JM Press Alternative Exercises
  • FAQs About JM Press

How to JM Press

What you’ll need:

  • Bench press station
  • Barbell of appropriate weight

Step 1: Get Into Starting Position

You can use a bench press station or lie back on a Bench situated in a Power Rack. Get into a lying supine position with feet flat on the floor and more than shoulder width apart. The barbell should be positioned above your forehead, or you are scooted forehead enough, so the bar is behind the head when racked.

Step 2: Correct Hand Placement

Place your hands on the Barbell properly, letting the hands be a bit out of your torso width (or shoulder-width apart) with your wrists comfortable. This is about 15-16 inches apart for most people, having a narrower grip than your standard bench press. Besides a narrow grip, make sure your thumbs are wrapped around the bar for your safety. 

Step 3: Unrack Your Weight

Unrack your barbell while you’re in a safe position to manage the load when pressing it up from the rack and into starting position above the chin. For those new to the JM Press, unrack the weight without loading on the bar to focus on proper form before loading up weights. Be sure your wrists are in a stable position, not extended or overly flexed. 

Coach’s Tip: When performing the exercise for the first time, it is always safe to have a spotter to help you unrack and rerack the barbell and to observe proper form throughout the movement. 

Step 4: Press the Weight

With the bar unracked and everything ready, begin lowering the barbell, flexing from the elbow. Tuck the elbows about 45 degrees from your sides, pointing forward towards your feet and staying in front of the bar. Inhale and lower the bar with control and let the bar roll back at approximately 1 inch on the halfway mark. Move your arms towards your legs and continue down until you reach between the top of your upper chest and chin.

Step 5: Reach the Full Motion

Once your biceps and forearms touch each other, that’s the end of your range of motion. The stopping point is about 90 degrees of elbow flexion if you have bigger arms, though some can go past that. You won’t have to touch the bar all the way to your throat, upper chest, or chin, though.

Step 6: Press Back Up

Once you reach the bottom of the rep, extend your elbows and explosively press the barbell straight up but not in an arc. Maintain a straight bar path as you get deep in your elbow flexion.  Flex your wrists actively when lowering the bar, keeping it straight, and maintaining the tension when pressing up. 

Coach’s Tip: During the eccentric motion, focus the tension on your biceps to add stability to your elbows. Punch away as you press the bar to the starting position.

3 JM Press Benefits

1. Builds strong triceps strength and size

The JM Press is the best triceps exercise placing a high amount of tension on your triceps, which builds muscle and strength. You gain strong triceps to lift heavier and grow in size around your upper arms. 

2. Powers Up Lockout Performances in Your Horizontal Pressing Exercises

When posting a big bench press, one of the limiting factors is the strength of your lockout. The triceps are critical for locking out your bench, as they are the ones that extend your arms completely. By strengthening the triceps, you can improve the top half of the bench press lockout. Not only does this help with strength sports and powerlifting, but the improved elbow flexion strength and power can help with athletic and daily activities. 

3. Limits shoulder strain

Numerous barbell-based compound pressing exercises are known to place a lot of strain on your shoulders. You can use the JM Press to put more tension on your triceps while lessening the risk of shoulder strain. It allows you to develop your lockout performance and pressing strength by limiting the strain and long-term wear and tear on your shoulder joints. 

Common JM Press Mistakes to Avoid

The elbows are too high

When bench pressing with the elbows directly out to the sides, you will put a ton of strain on your elbows and shoulder capsules. Ensure that you have a narrow grip with the barbell, keeping the elbows close to your ribcage when descending. When overhead, the upper arms should form a 45-degree angle with the torso. 

You bounce the bar

At the bottom portion of the exercise, never bounce the bar on the body. You’ll only cheat the movement as you create momentum, making it easier to lift the weights. Plus, you can hurt your ribs if you have extremely heavyweight. If you bounce the bar, it’s best to lessen the weights first. 

You don’t pause before descending

Once you liftoff, holding the bar at the top, don’t immediately go down into the press! Pause for 1-2 seconds, which will increase muscle tension and make the exercise more effective. 

Breaking the wrists

How you grip the barbell would make or break the lift, as well as your wrists! Never grip the barbell too high in the palm or around the fingertips, as this causes your wrist to bend backward. Not only will you lose strength, but you can hurt your wrists. Keep the wrists slightly bent and grip the barbell deep into your palms. 

Your hips are off the bench

Lifting the hips would result in arching your body, placing a significant strain on your spine. This can cause injuries, so be sure to keep the glutes on your bench the entire time. If you will arch your body, arch with the thoracic spine and upper back, never the lower back.

Head is lifted

Lifting your head only means straining your neck and wasting energy that could be placed in the lift itself. Avoid lifting your head and keep it on the bench! 

Shortened range of motion

If you would only lower the barbell a few inches, you miss out on strength gains and muscle growth. Moving through a more extensive range of motion helped with size and strength than less range of motion, even when lifting more weight. When performing the JM Press, get as close as you can to your chest on each rep.

JM Press Muscles Worked

The JM Press is an exercise that mainly works on your upper arms, particularly the following:

  • Triceps
  • Deltoids

Your triceps are the primary muscles throughout the exercise. When performing JM presses, the unique movement pattern allows you to place more load on your triceps while minimizing any tension on the surrounding muscle tissue, like your chest and shoulders. Of the three heads, the triceps brachii muscle has, the lateral heads are more focused on the JM Press. 

The deltoids help stabilize your shoulder joint as you perform JM presses. While the exercise concentrates on the elbow flexion-extension, the shoulders are abducted by around 30-45 degrees. 

JM Press vs Skull Crushers

The JM Press is described as a combination of a skull crusher and a close grip bench press, but it is not the same as Skull Crushers. While the skull crusher works on your triceps as well, you would usually use dumbbells for this exercise, and you will place your weights near your head, hence the name. 

As for the JM Press, you are typically using a barbell on a power rack, this time lowering the weight near your upper chest and chin. 

While both are hallmark exercises to improve muscle volume and strength, the JM Press combines the Skull Crusher and Close-Grip Bench Press movements to activate the triceps effectively. It makes a fantastic accessory workout to boost your bench presses and powerlifting exercises.

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs

To Build On Muscles

We recommend performing 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps each, using a moderate weight. It’s also effective to manipulate the training tempos, such as pausing at the bottom or slowing the eccentric part of the exercise. Doing so can increase time spent with tricep muscular tension.

For Improved Strength

During your strength training program, you can use the JM Press for accessory work. Doing so helps increase the tension on your triceps while lessening any strain on your shoulders. To build strength, use a heavyweight and perform the exercise for 3-6 sets of 2-6 reps each. 

JM Press Variations

Once you master the JM Press with perfect form or want more variety in your fitness program, you can always incorporate other JM Press variations. Doing so can make your workout routine more interesting, challenge, and activate different muscle groups.

Using the Smith Machine

While the Smith machine isn’t commonly used for other strength exercises, it’s beneficial for the JM press as the straight bar path can do some of the work. You get to load your triceps a bit heavier as you safely maintain training effects.

Reverse Bands

Consider attaching Bands at the top of your power rack and around your barbell. It will make things easier on the elbow joint when fixed but more challenging during the latter part of your exercise, improving lockout strength. You also overload the exercise as you create a slingshot effect from the stretched band. 

Floor Press with Chain

The chain resistance helps relieve pressure on your elbows when fixed at the bottom of the movement, similar to using reverse bands. But when you lift the chains from the floor, it will increase resistance on your triceps, which helps increase hypertrophy and lockout strength. You can hit two birds with one stone as you build strength and triceps size.

JM Press Alternative Exercises

If, for any reason, you cannot perform the JM Press or want to look for other exercises to work on getting stronger triceps, there are alternative exercises to follow. 

Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip press is the closest alternative to the JM press and an excellent compound triceps exercise. Close-grip presses work on all the heads of your triceps brachii muscle. 

Skull Crushers

Like the close grip bench press, skull crushers are similar to the JM press. The difference is that the elbows are beyond the 90-degree angle and that it focuses more on the long head of your triceps muscle. We have also included a list of Alternatives for Skull Crusher, that will be useful to your tricep exercises.

Tricep Dips

Tricep Dips are a great bodyweight exercise for the triceps, which builds the size and thickness of the affected muscles. It’s also an excellent way to begin your tricep workout because it engages the entire triceps while working on the upper body. 

Bodyweight Triceps Extension

This is the bodyweight version of the skull crusher, strengthening your triceps and building size. You would normally do this exercise on a squat rack. 

Diamond Pushups

Diamond pushups are another excellent bodyweight exercise that focuses on your triceps. There’s no need for any equipment, and you get to hit the long and short heads of the triceps brachii equally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the JM Press also benefits the shoulders, limiting the strain compared to the conventional bench press and other exercises. The goal is to maximize your elbow flexion without using much of your shoulder extension, as the arms are less abducted. That means there isn’t much movement on the shoulder joint, lessening any discomfort. 

Yes, the JM Press is safe as long as you have the perfect form and use the appropriate weights, not overloading it to something you can’t handle. We recommend having a spotter to keep it safer when unracking and reracking the dumbbell. 

The JM Press works on your entire triceps muscle, which includes the long-head triceps. However, the movement focuses more on the lateral head of the triceps. 

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