Skip to content Skip to footer

The California press is a triceps exercise. It was invented by Louis Simmons, the author of the Westside Powerlifter Training Methodology and the owner of the club of the same name. At Westside, there was a lot of ancillary work. If Soviet powerlifters were used to working on equipment for a long time in the “big three”, then the American ones loved to strengthen their weak points. This is what Louis suggested doing, developing the California bench press. Today, the exercise is used in both powerlifting and bodybuilding. After all, it strengthens the long head of the triceps, which has a positive effect on both strength and aesthetics.

The benefits of exercise

There are two problems in triceps training – some exercises do not give a sufficient effect because they cannot be performed with significant weight, others are traumatic. The pluses of the California bench press are:

  • artificially shortened trajectory, that is, the amplitude. In which the effect on the elbow joints is reduced;
  • working out a predominantly long triceps head;
  • strengthening muscles due to natural movement – bending the arms with a barbell to the shoulders;
  • shutdown of the front delta. This is important for those who bench press a lot and want to increase their working weights in the basic exercise. Often fatigued front delts don’t allow for a lot of weight. Painful sensations in them are mistaken for trauma. But in fact, you just need to remove some of the load so as to load mainly the triceps, and not the deltas;
    increase weight in the bench press. There is no direct connection, but the triceps works in this exercise;
  • learn to stabilize the body on the bench using the position of the legs and buttocks. In movements without a press bridge, leg support is trained.


Movement helps to diversify the training. Does it have any disadvantages?

  • It can be traumatic for beginners, as they do not know how to control weight, and usually lower the bar too quickly. Fatigue can cause injury just like any other exercise. But this is excluded with the number of barbell lifts that are used for fitness purposes. In powerlifters, these injuries are usually cumulative. The athlete overtired the triceps precisely due to the large volume in the main movement – the bench press.

Execution technique

Execution technique

The exercise resembles a medium grip bench press and a French bench press. But it is distinguished from the second by significant flexion in the elbow joint, and from the first by a different amplitude of movement. The exercise focuses on the work of the triceps. You must first prepare the required height of the racks and enlist the help of a belayer. In Westide, the utility room is not performed with a large weight, but this movement is recommended to be done with a smaller amplitude than the French press and therefore the weight can be more significant.


  1. Barbell racks are set at the height of the press with an average grip;
  2. The bridge is excluded. It is necessary to slightly bring the shoulder blades to the spine and bend the chest up;
  3. The buttocks are pressed against the bench, and the feet are firmly against the floor. Some athletes should use shoes with heels – weightlifting shoes, rather than sneakers or wrestlers to provide a stable support;
  4. Closed grip, palms shoulder-width apart;
  5. It is better to remove the barbell from the racks with the help of an assistant;
  6. When feeding the bar to straight arms, you should strain your legs and back.


  • The arms are bent at the elbows, the bar is lowered to the area of ​​the shoulder joint;
  • From there, press upward due to extension in the elbow joint;
  • The exercise is repeated as many times as necessary.

Technically, the movement is more like a French press than a medium grip press. The reason is greater flexion in the elbow joint.


  • Control the position of your elbows. Do not spread them abruptly to the sides. Avoid jerking and jerking;
    Pay attention to your knees, they should be directed equally to the sides or equally forward. The exercise should be done exclusively without skewing in different directions;
  • Bend and unbend your elbows with the same amplitude, do not twist the projectile;
  • This is not biceps curl, do not bring the projectile to the shoulders with all your might;
  • Move the barbell along a vertical trajectory, do not lower it on your forehead;
  • Do not throw the barbell over your head;
  • Raising the elbows to the sides will shift the focus to the pectoral muscles, do not do this;
  • Eliminate wrist flexion

Smith Machine Californian Press

Smith Machine Californian Press

Admirers of natural movement and well-calibrated trajectories are not very fond of Smith’s car. But it is extremely well suited for those who have problems with lowering the bar exactly and cannot lower it so that the trajectory is correct. In the simulator, you can perform the exercise without a belayer. The secret is to get under the bar correctly. The bar should be projected onto the shoulders. Rotate the Smith bar so that the bar leaves the supports and lower it onto your shoulders. Then – gently squeeze up. The mistakes are the same as in the normal bench press. You should not bend your wrists too much, and move your shoulders so that the amplitude in the joint changes. For this exercise, it is better to take not the “anatomical” Smith machine, in which the trajectory of the projectile changes, but the most ordinary simulator without secrets. It will fit better and will help lower the bar correctly.

California dumbbell press

The exercise can be performed with dumbbells:

  1. Lie on a bench, let the assistant put the dumbbells on straight outstretched arms;
  2. Bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells to your shoulders;
  3. Extend your arms;
  4. The movement will be obtained solely due to flexion in the elbow joint and triceps, and not due to the anterior delta.

Tips for maximum efficiency

  • Exercise can be done at the end of your workout to properly stretch your joints. If it is in the plan at the beginning, do not forget about the joint warm-up. Several sets of light weight curls and extensions will also work;
  • If your elbows are already sore, skip the exercise;
  • When it is not possible to regulate the load, avoid overloading, refrain from exceeding the permissible volume. A couple of approaches will be enough;
  • The exercise does not need to be done in the same workout as the French press;
    It is not recommended to do it with a weight like in a bench press, it is better to start with half of 1RM;
  • The pace of movement should be medium. It is better to refuse from partial repetitions, “springs” and other similar methods of increasing the intensity;
  • The stability of the position of the forearms in motion is the key to healthy joints. This is what is meant when talking about the ideal technique.