How to Do the JM Press for Bigger, Stronger Triceps
The JM press is an underrated addition to your training routine that can help to build a strong triceps and better bench press, but are you sure you’re even doing the exercise correctly?
For this movement, you shouldn’t settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it’s such a killer exercise that can serve as a simple addition to your training plan. Let Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the move’s subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.
Before you grab a pair of dumbbells, get on the bench, and get to pressing, take note that it’s extremely important to pay attention the movement here. Using the proper form is essential to make sure you’re getting the most out of the exercise—particularly because of the unique angle and movement path you need to use. Let’s break down everything you need to know.
Eb says: The best way to think of a JM Press is as a cross between a skull crusher and a standard close-grip bench press. The triceps’ main job is to straighten your elbow; it does this during a skull crusher.
But in everyday use, the triceps is a key muscle in simply pushing things away from your torso, as it does during a close-grip bench press. Here, you’re blending both moves, creating a unique stress on your tris.
Elbows to Ribs, Dumbbells to Shoulders
Eb says: The JM press is a move that took me a while to learn because there is so much nuance in the timing of the movement. It’s easy to overthink and easy to underthink, too!
Keep one cue in the back of your mind, and aim to finish your reps here: Points of dumbbells touch your shoulders, elbows touch your ribs. Think of slowly (and actively) pulling the dumbbells downwards into this position. In general, if you hit this position at the bottom of each rep, you’ll feel it in your tris as you should, and be positioned to fire the dumbbells back upwards.
Take Your Time
Eb says: Operative word in my last cue: Take your time! Because of the unique feel we’re trying to get for our tris you can’t rush the JM press, especially on the way down. Think of taking 2 to 3 seconds to lower the dumbbells on every rep.
It’s easy to let this become a close-grip press, and convenient to do so, too, especially near the end of every set. Avoid that by focusing on the tempo as much as possible, especially as you’re learning the move.
Eb says: Much like skull crushers and close-grip presses, JM presses work best (and shoulder-safest) if you keep your elbows in. Do everything possible to tuck them into your body throughout the life of each rep.
This will take work and effort, but it’ll position you to make sure your triceps (and not your chest or shoulders) are driving the motion, and it’ll keep your shoulders safe too.
Eb says: One of the coolest things you can do on both JM Presses and skull crushers is create constant tension on your triceps. You do this by not setting your upper arms at a perpendicular angle to the floor. When they’re perpendicular to the floor, your wrists, elbows, and shoulders stack over each other when you straighten your arms, letting your triceps relax briefly. Lean your arms back just slightly, though, and your triceps suddenly have to work in the straight arm position.
So set up like this: Get on the bench, tighten your core and glutes, and get the dumbbells overhead. Then lean your arms backwards towards your head just slightly, while still keeping your core tight. This is your starting position for the JM Press, and it’s going to make you work.
Want to master even more moves? Check out our entire Form Check series.
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