Who is J.M Blakely?

JohnMark Blakely is a powerlifter most famously known for inventing the JM Press. The term was actually coined by Louie Simmons and George Halbert of westside barbell whilst he was training there. It was one of the only triceps exercises that JM Blakely did and he credits it for building all of his triceps strength for bench pressing.

jm blakley

JM Blakely in the 90s

JohnMark competed in the early 90s and  was a bench press specialist. He holds 6 world records, is a 4 time world bench press champion and was also the 11th man in history to bench 700lb (raw). JM Blakely was well known for being able to quickly gain and lose bodyweight. He was notoriously well know for drastically changing his bodyweight and competing in different weight classes within months of each other. The well known powerlifter and strength coach Dave Tate from Westside Barbell recalls how this ‘dude’ could just magically go from 198 to 308 and back to 275. When Dave Tate asked him how does he gain weight so easily, JM told him to come outside and simple explained that he needed to stuff his face with Mcdonalds, chinese and pizza etc. He listen and a few months later he grew.


He wrote a number of articles for PLUSA magazine (powerlifting – united states of America) such as ‘The Big Boys Menu’ and “The Secrets of Bodyweight Manipulation”. These articles would often explained how to dirty bulking and increase your bench press. He often came out with hilarious quotes such as “canned soda pop is an excellent source of purified water”, however, he did acknowledge that dirty bulking can cause health issues and often went into detail that you should monitor for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and lipids, poor liver values and hormones and most obviously high fat gain. He also released a great video ‘JM Blakley’s Seventh Level Bench Press training’ in which led to his JM presses becoming a popular exercise.

JM Blakely magazine cover

JM Blakely on the front of powerlifting USA magazine

He has a solid education in all aspects of training including a B.A. in ‘Fitness Management’, an M.A. in ‘Strength & Athletic Conditioning’, A PHD in ‘Exercise Physiology’, is a MFI Certified Health and Fitness Instructor, an Olympic lifting coach (level 1) and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. (Source). In the 90s he trained at World’s Gym in Worthington, Ohio. His ex wife ann was also an extremely strong bench presser and when she was competing at a high level, she could could bench 300 pounds bench at 132. (Source).

What is a JM Press

A JM Press is a hybrid exercise for the triceps, often performed on a flat bench with a barbell. Its blend between a close grip bench press and a triceps extension. Its designed to make your triceps extremely strong for bench pressing and really helps to strengthen the tendons and get the joints and build them up to handle heavy loads. Whilst the movement hits all three triceps heads (triceps brachii) there is a particular focus and feeling on the long head.  (It should be noted that multiple versions of this exercise exist with varying levels of fold and depth, I have just covered one.)

You first lay down on your back with a barbell grip around shoulder width apart, you then inhale and lower the bar in a straight line toward your collar bone area by folding your arms and focusing on your triceps taking the strain. You should pause when your forearms properly make contact with your biceps and prepare to press back up. Some non-standard variations of this exercise lower the bar until it touches the chest. (This also works great, but you will not be able to lift as heavy.)

JM Press

Barbell JM Press (image from http://ejerciciosencasa.es )

The press at the bottom should be executed by focusing on pressing with the palms of your hand and using your triceps (everything should be felt in your triceps). Exhale as you press and you can use either a false grip or a proper thumb grip depending on what feels most comfortable for you. Avoid letting your shoulders drop or your arms flare out and its best to start off light and build up the weight as your technique becomes more natural and you improve. Strong JM pressers will be using over 225lb for this lift, but its best to start out with just the barbell and build it up over a number of weeks. Technique is everything.

Whilst the exercise was designed for powerlifters, many bodybuilders use JM press and numerous variations as a mass gaining exercise for the triceps. The best way to understand the exercise is to watch JM Blakelys original video, his more recent update and a Dave Tates video below.

JM Press Videos

A clip from JM Blakley’s Seventh Level Bench Press training:

A more recent video of JohnMark:

Dave Tate explaining:

JM Press Variations

There are a number of JM press variations:

  • flat barbell jm press – the default barbell press.
  • incline db and bb jm press – an incline press that you may find easier to follow the correct bar path.
  • dumbbell jm press – using dumbbells instead of a barbell and allows a slight natural twist/tilt in the forearms.
  • Kettlebell jm press – similar to dumbbells, there is less stress on the forearms.
  • smith machine jm press – a slightly odd but effective way, however is unlikely to give you the natural path.
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