3 Exercises You Can Do On the Floor to Become a Better Powerlifter

Build a better big three from the ground up.

Being on the floor is how you learnt to move as a baby and returning to the floor can help you work around injuries and get you stronger for the Big 3. (That’s the squat, bench, and deadlift — the competition movements in powerlifting.) The floor provides you with stability, feedback, and a reduced range of motion with some exercises. Yes, sometimes a reduced range of motion can be helpful — the floor can be an ideal place to start your warm-up and a great place to lift from.

Floor exercises cover a wide spectrum that includes core training, crawling, the Turkish Get-Up, and more. However, the moves below are the ones (I believe) will help improve your technique with the big 3 as well as improve your overall stability and mobility.

These three exercises may get you some strange looks, but you’ll be the coolest person in the gym. Trust me, I’m a trainer.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

1. Pullover Deadbug

With the big 3, you’ll need good core stability and the ability for your core to resist movement. This is where the deadbug comes in. The lower back and your anterior core will remain stable as you’re moving your arms and legs.

Adding a pullover takes the deadbug to a different level. The offset nature of the kettlebell combined with the deadbug further strengthens your core, shoulders, and lats.

The pullover is a good exercise for the chest and lats, but some lifters can overextend their lower back in an effort for more range of motion or extra reps. Performing the pullover deadbug prevents this and helps strengthen and save your spine. 

Form Tips And Programing Suggestions

Take a deep breath in before you start and exhale, extending one leg while lowering the kettlebell behind you. Have a slight bend in your elbows and let your core stability and shoulder mobility decide your overhead range of motion.

Pairing this exercise with a movement that demands core stability and a neutral spine works best.

For example

1A. Barbell Squat (not too heavy!)

1B. Pullover Deadbug 6-8 reps per leg

[Related: 3 Core-Blasting Variations of the Deadbug]

2. Unilateral Dumbbell Floor Press 

The reduced range of motion of the floor press makes this great triceps builder, which helps with lockout strength. Plus, you’ll receive no assistance from your lower body here, further helping your lockout.

The unilateral floor press will engage your core and shoulder stabilizers due to the offset load — a training component that often gets neglected with bilateral pressing variations. Plus, it’s a shoulder saver because it eliminates the lower half of the press, where the shoulder is externally rotated and shoulder impingements are a possibility.  

Form Tips And Programming Suggestion

Grip the dumbbell tight and keep the elbow close to your side, but not touching. Touch the entire upper arm to the ground at the start of each rep and reach the dumbbell towards the sky at the end of the rep.

Having your feet on the floor makes this exercise easier than having your legs fully extended. It is a matter of personal preference and comfort.

Pairing this with a side plank gives your shoulders and core the extra work they might need. For example,

1A. Floor Press 8-12 reps each side

1BSide Plank Variation 30 seconds each side

[Related: Floor Press vs Bench Press – Which Is Best for Your Goals?]

3. Mini Band Leopard Crawl

Although crawling makes you look like a child, this movement ties together your hips, core, shoulders and helps ingrain your natural contra lateral movement (opposite arm/opposite leg) pattern that’s needed for walking, running, and sprinting. 

Plus, it’s tough to breathe properly and keep your head up while maintaining the contralateral pattern of crawling. When adding a mini band, this further strengthens your shoulders and lats while the hip flexion position strengthens your hip flexors and quads, making it a great deadlift and squat accessory exercise.

Form Tips And Programming Suggestions

Finding and keeping a neutral spine is essential for this exercise, otherwise it negates the core stability benefits and puts your low back at risk. Start with your knees above hips, hands underneath shoulders and keep your head up as you take small steps forward and then back.

Perform this as a warm-up or accessory exercise taking 20 steps forward and then 20 steps backwards. Pairing this with another floor exercise like the floor press means you can rest on the floor between supersets. For example,

1A. Mini Band Leopard Crawl 20 step forwards and backwards

1B. Unilateral Dumbbell Floor Press 8-12 reps each side

[Related: Why You Should Add Crawls to Your Warm-Up]

Wrapping Up

You probably don’t equate training on the floor with getting stronger. However, with these three floor exercises, you’ll definitely get stronger and improve your performance in the big 3.

Featured image via Robbie Bagby on YouTube