Kaz Press – The Effective Way to Train Triceps on a Smith Machine

Kaz Press

If you’re looking for an effective way to train your triceps on a Smith Machine, you’re in luck… the Kaz Press may just be the answer.

A seemingly simple movement, the Kaz Press allows you to load heavy weights in a controlled environment to really engage and activate your triceps.

In this exercise guide, we outline everything you need to know about the Kaz Press, including similarities to other tricep press exercises, how to perform it safely and tips for making the most out of it.

What is the Kaz Press?

The Kaz Press is a type of tricep press performed on a Smith Machine.

Laying flat on a bench, load the appropriate weight onto the Smith Machine bar. With a narrow grip, and elbows really tucked in, push the bar up, focusing on contracting the triceps to extend your arms. Return the bar to your body and repeat for repetitions.

The bar wants to be coming down closer to your chin, compared to your chest (like it would for a bench press). This higher positioning will ensure the triceps are activated more.

The video below demonstrates how to perform the the Kaz Press.

Why is It Called the “Kaz” Press?

The Kaz Press gets its name from one of its biggest fans, 3 time World’s Strongest Man, Bill “Kaz” Kazmaier.

It’s somewhat interesting the amount of purist powerlifters and strength athletes who dismiss the Smith Machine, yet one of the strongest men in history, used the machine very strategically to his advantage.

As discussed in this guide, the premise and reason for doing a tricep press on the Smith Machine (which became known as the Kaz Press) was because it meant more weight could be applied, without the need to worry about stabilizing the bar and weight.

This means more weight lifted, more muscle growth and stronger triceps.

What’s the Difference Between a Kaz Press and Tricep Press?

A tricep press is often used to describe any sort of tricep-focused press. This could be done on a flat bench, but could also be done on an incline or decline.

In contrast, a Kaz Press is done on a flat bench.

Enjoy Using the Smith Machine?

We recently put together the ultimate list of exercises to include in a Smith Machine back workout, that will help build strength, muscle and functional movement.


Elbow Friendly

The JM Press is a fantastic tricep exercise, but it’s not uncommon to experience elbow pain. The requirement to stabilize a weighted barbell at that angle can mean that elbow pain or discomfort becomes a limiting factor… not tricep strength.

The Kaz Press, in contrast, feels more elbow friendly as the requirement to stabilize and balance the weight is removed. Things like elbow pain can be due to all sorts of reasons, but if you do find yourself feeling restricted by some tricep barbell movements, using a Smith Machine is certainly worth experimenting with.

Easy Set Up

The Kaz Press is easy to set up, and easy to adjust the weight. If you’re continuing to increase the weight after each set, the Smith Machine is very convenient for this.

Similarly, you may find the Smith Machine very useful for supersets and pairing the Kaz Press with other exercises like Smith Machine skull crushers or close grip bench press.

Our guide on Smith Machine Hip Thrusts highlights similar benefits that the machine offers in terms of set up and adapting weights.

Hypertrophy and Strength

The Kaz Press puts less focus on balance, functional movement patterns, stability and all the reasons why people love barbell workouts… but it does allow you to really load the weight on which is very effective for both hypertrophy and strength based workouts.

You’ll probably find you can lift more weight on a Kaz Press than you can with a JM Press, for example.

Ideal for Smith Machine Workouts

Some gyms have really doubled down on Smith Machines (such as Planet Fitness)… which means you may have little choice but to learn how to get the most out of Smith Machine workouts.

In terms of training the triceps on this piece of gym equipment, the Kaz Press is definitely one of the best ways.

No Spotter, No Problem

Using a Smith Machine to perform movements like a tricep press is very beneficial if you don’t have a spotter. With the bar coming down towards your chin, if you struggle with the weight, it can obviously be quite dangerous, so the ability to re-rack the bar by just turning your wrists is a big bonus for those using the Smith Machine.

Kaz Press Vs JM Press

The Kaz Press resembles a JM Press, however, due to the use of a Smith Machine, you’re able to load more weight onto the bar compared to using a loaded barbell.

A JM Press brings with it all the benefits (and drawbacks) of training with a barbell and the Kaz Press brings with it all the benefits (and drawbacks) of training with a Smith Machine.

Ultimately, the Kaz Press trades the development of stability and functional movement for absolute resistance… which can be the preference for those looking exclusively for muscle development in the triceps.

Where Does a Close Grip Bench Press Fit Into All This?

A close grip bench press (whether that’s performed on a Smith Machine or using a barbell and bench), will help activate the triceps more than a regular grip bench press would, so it desires recognition as a potential option for any tricep workout… and the movement is very similar to a Kaz/JM Press. The main difference is, however, the placement of your body under the bar. For a Kaz/JM Press, the bar is coming down much higher (aim for your chin) and this will require more tricep activation.

Bottom Line

The Kaz Press is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for an effective tricep exercise… especially if you enjoy Smith Machine workouts.

The ability to focus more on load, and less on stability, means you can really maximize your muscle and strength development.

We’d tend to recommend including a variety in your workouts and pairing the Kaz Press with free weight exercises, to ensure you test your unilateral strength, functional movement, stability and balance too.

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