When you read the description and see the pictures of this one in action, you'll know exactly where I got the name for it!
Basically, you're going to be doing what looks like a standard shoulder press movement. But here's the trick...instead of holding dumbells or a barbell, you're going to be using a single weight plate.
So how do you press a weight plate? Well, you're going to use one hand to grab the plate and place it FLAT on top of your other hand so you're pressing with your palm.
Ever see a picture of a shotputter about to throw? THAT is the position the weight plate will be in - palm up, ready to shotput it across the room. As for the name of the exercise, think of the weight plate you're pressing as a pizza you don't want to drop on the floor as you're pressing it overhead.
This is a great exercise for the shoulders in that not only does it require strength, it requires balance in your hands, which also carries over to the shoulder. Pressing with your palm flat gives a whole different dimension to the shoulder press movement than gripping around a bar or dumbell handle. You'll feel the difference from "normal" press where you're wrapping your hand around a handle or bar
This Pizza Press is an excellent variation for when you have shoulder pressing on your training schedule but you don't feel up for heavy pressing with regular free weights. You can get a GREAT shoulder workout with lighter weights with this one because of the instability and balance involved.
How To Do It:
As I mentioned previously, you're going to be doing a shoulder press exercise. And instead of using a barbell or dumbells, you're going to use a single barbell weight plate. Obviously this puts limitations on how much weight you can use, but I found 45 lbs to be plenty, due to the nature of the exercise.
To use a 45 lb plate, you should be able to handle at least 70 lb dumbells on the dumbell shoulder press. If you can do 50's, start with a 35 lb plate. If you can do 35's, go with a 25 lb plate. If you can do less than 35's, start with a 10 lb plate.
You'll be doing this exercise in a standing position. Reach down and grab the plate around the lip with your left hand. Lift it up and place the PALM of your right hand on the smooth BOTTOM face. You want to be SURE you're placing your hand on the smooth, flat face to maximize the effect of this exercise. Be sure to watch the video (link below) to see exactly how to get the plate into position.
Note: your palm will be on the plate surface but your fingers will be slightly bent to allow you to exert pressure with your fingers to help balance the weight plate as you press it up.
Be careful with this exercise! Because you're not gripping anything (but relying on finger pressure to balance the plate) the chances of the plate moving around are greater. So do this one light the first time to get an idea of what you're doing. THEN you can move up in weight.
With your palm flat under it, get it to shoulder level - you'll look like a waiter serving a pizza (or a shotputter). Your other arm should be out to the side for balance. You should start at rock bottom, with the weight plate almost touching your shoulder - bring it to this point on every single rep as well (the weight plate all the way down almost to the shoulder).
Now press it up under control. As you press, you'll have to balance the weight plate on your palm using finger pressure. This makes it a bit tricky and tougher with the larger 45 lb plate (which is why you need to be somewhat stronger than being able lift only 45 lbs on dumbell presses).
When you're done with one arm, grab the lip of the plate with your free hand and swing it back down to the ground. Switch hands, getting your left hand under the bottom of the plate this time.
1. Using too heavy of a weight plate
This exercise requires finger strength and balance. If you go too heavy, you won't be able to properly balance the plate. Start lighter than you think you'll need to and move up from there!
2. Letting the weight plate tilt too much
It can be tough to keep your palm flat through the entire movement but do your best. If you let the plate tilt too much, it'll make the plate harder to control - we don't want that pizza sliding off and we definitely don't want the weight plate falling!
1. Keep the non-working arm out to the side
This will help with balance - keeping your non-working arm out the side will work to counterbalance the weight plate on your working side.
2. Keep your fingers flexed/bent
It's important not to let your fingers spread out flat on the bottom of the weight plate. If they go flat, you'll lose control of the plate. Keeping your fingers flexed allows you to control the weight plate using finger pressure.
The Weight Plate Pizza Press is an excellent exercise for hitting the shoulders in a very unique way. The stabilizing factors required by the exercise put a whole different type of tension on the shoulders (and the hands!). It's a great option when you don't want to do barbell and dumbell shoulder pressing.
More Articles by Author Nick Nilsson
Return To Weight Lifting Articles Archive