Chances are, most of you have never heard of the Spoto press but you’re curious (as we were) to see it in action because it sounds interesting. But by the same token, who doesn’t want to improve their bench press?… we’re guessing that’s also why you stopped by and we can definitely help you in that regard.
Now, the bench press is one exercise where you can use many different methods for improving certain aspects of the movement whether at the bottom, middle, or top portion.
But the purpose of this Spoto press which we’re about to show you; is to improve the bottom portion of the bench press (pressing off of the chest) and it’s very effective.
In fact, legendary bench presser Eric Spoto who achieved a world-record (has been surpassed since then) 722 lbs raw; gave this method the name… so it must have worked really well for him.
Here’s a video example of how it’s done…
How It Works and Benefits
As you can see, it’s like a board press without the board so you’ll just an inch or so from your chest. Although, the board press is great for improving lockout strength. But by removing the board, the weight continues to move downward forcing you to fight against the resistance and stabilize the weight so that you can effectively press it back up.
You’ll do a short pause to take advantage of the isometric overload during the eccentric position where you’re not naturally at your strongest.
Not to mention, you can’t bounce the bar off of your chest (we’d hope you weren’t anyway) so there’s no rebound and you can’t rest it on your chest for a second before you press it up.
And, you’re having to recruit more strength from your triceps and front deltoids due to the shorter range of motion (Like a floor press but with a bigger range of motion so there’s naturally more chest activation) which are two muscles highly engaged in any pressing movements including those targeting the chest or otherwise.
Therefore, our muscles and nervous system must adapt to this new stimulus and we become better as a result but only if you stay tight in your technique. Otherwise, you won’t benefit as much by shortchanging proper execution.
But strength improvement isn’t the only benefit of the Spoto press as it’s effective for hypertrophy as well due to the overall time under tension which benefits all of your pushing muscles. So, you get the best of both worlds.
Another benefit of the Spoto press is that it can be a good variation for those with shoulders issues as it doesn’t require you to touch the chest. Therefore, many people use it for this purpose while still improving their bench press strength.
Here’s a guide on how to perform the barbell bench press to ensure you maintain proper form throughout.
Important Exercise Tips
Many will get the Spoto press wrong but here are a few tips to ensure you get it right.
- The Spoto press is not a half-press. Bring the bar to an inch or two from your chest. This is especially important for powerlifters who must press from the chest, and proper technique will ensure you get the benefits that will transfer over to competition.
- Stay tight! You’d be selling yourself short if you were just lowering the bar and pressing it back up. Tuck your arms, retract your shoulder blades and engage your pecs, lats, shoulders, and triceps while using leg drive throughout the movement.
- Pause for a second at the bottom to really take advantage of the muscular overload and to ensure you don’t use momentum.
- Use heavy enough weight to where you can effectively perform 2-4 controlled repetitions.
How To Incorporate the Spoto Press
The most effective way to utilize the Spoto press would be to use heavy enough weight to where you can perform 2-4 reps. You have to be challenged in the bottom position in order for this method to transfer over into your bench press sessions where you’ll really need bottom strength, especially when using a full range of motion.
But feel free to use this method with higher rep ranges as well as you’ll surely benefit when it comes to muscular endurance.
As far as frequency, Eric Spoto used this method regularly but it really depends on the individual and how often you bench. Many lifters include it every week, every few weeks, or only when they hit a plateau or want to improve strength at the bottom of a press.
There’s definitely no one-size-fits-all formula.
Why It’s Effective For All Experience Levels
Literally anyone can benefit from incorporating the Spoto press because it targets an area of difficulty in the bench press that everyone will experience at some point.
The Spoto press is especially beneficial for the novice lifter because it’s an excellent teacher of the importance of maintaining proper form (otherwise, you’re going to be stuck under a bar).
Also, the bottom part of the bench press is where we know whether or not we have another rep in us based on the previous repetition. But the chances of repetition failure also decrease if you’re stronger in the bottom because if you can get past the sticking point then the rest of the rep becomes entirely possible (although, it’s always a good idea to have a spotter in case).
Lifters/ powerlifters regardless of training experience can also benefit from the Spoto press because, well… we already explained that you can never be too good to see the benefits of implementing certain methods even as basic (we didn’t say easy) as this one.
If you can get through the bottom then there’s a chance you’ll slowly but surely get that bar to the top. And the beauty of the Spoto press is that you can also use it for the middle portion of the press as well, therefore, further increasing your strength and proficiency in the bench and pretty much any pressing movements.
Possible Spoto Press Variations
Here are a few variations to try which each have benefits of their own based on what we know about training in general.
Dumbbells are an amazing tool due to the additional stabilization and full-body control required for successful execution. Not to mention you have a freer range of movement.
This variation will essentially be the same so you’ll stop short and pause for a second before pressing the dumbbells back up. It’ll be more difficult overall since you don’t have the benefit of equal weight distribution but it’s also great for identifying weaknesses on either side.
All-in-all, dumbbells can help tremendously as a variation of the Spoto press.
Incline press variation
The incline press is also a must-have variation for building the chest overall and potentially emphasizing the upper region of the pectoral muscles. The front delts are also more engaged here but the incline press is just a more functional movement overall, as is apparent from the body position which is more conducive to real-life activities (e.g. athletics, overhead pressing strength, etc).
So, as you’d normally perform the incline press, you’ll simply stop short, pause, and press. You’ll definitely experience the benefits of the variation and it’ll make you an all-around better lifter in addition to improving overall chest development.
The verdict is out… (and it has been), the Spoto press is an effective exercise that should be used in your bench press training arsenal.
The bottom portion of the bench press can be a difficult area for many lifters but the good news is there’s always a way to improve an aspect of performance which will help you to be the best that you can be.
But you can also utilize this awesome method to strengthen the mid-portion as well which makes the Spoto press a versatile option as well. So… let’s get to work!