When all the benches are taken on bench press Monday, you’re might consider giving the lifter sitting on the bench talking on their cell phone the evil eye. As annoying as that may be, there is no reason to waste time or anger when another lift is available to offer a bevy of benefits: the floor press.
The floor press is a fantastic pressing variation for lifters of all levels to improve muscle mass, lockout strength, and bench press technique. It can even be a great variation for lifters with achy shoulders. We are going to discuss what the floor press is and how it should be performed. Then we’ll dive into the benefits of the lift and why you should consider including it into your training routine.
The floor press is similar to the bench press except rather than using a bench, it is done while lying on the floor. If you haven’t got a training partner, these can be performed in the squat rack instead.
The differences (besides the obvious) are less range of motion (ROM) and minimal assistance from the lower body. Due to this shortened ROM, the movement places more emphasis on the triceps and less on the chest.
The video below from CrossFit’s YouTube channel demonstrates how to properly perform the floor press:
[Related: Floor Press vs. Bench Press —Which One Should You Be Doing?]
Having feet on the floor or legs extended while floor pressing is a matter of personal preference. Try both and find out what works best for you.
3 Floor Press Variations
The floor press is performed by using a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, or a trap bar. Here are three variations to consider.
Barbell Floor Press
This is likely the most popular way of floor pressing because it has a simple set up and allows for heavier lifts. It has great carryover to the regular bench press because of the lack of lower body involvement, which can help improve lockout strength.
[Related: 5 Ways to Improve Your Bench Press Lockout]
Trap Bar Floor Press
The trap bar floor press is easier on the shoulders as the floor stops them going into excess external rotation. Combined with the neutral grip, it is easier on the wrists as well due to a clean alignment of the elbow to the wrist for the duration of the movement.
The trap bar can offer the benefit of more manageable heavy loads than the dumbbell floor press, as you won’t have to contend with stabilizing each weight individually. Of course, heavier weight is great for those with a goal of building mass and strength.
Dumbbell Floor Press
Using dumbbells does allows you the capacity to change the angle of the shoulder and wrist. This is useful if you have shoulder issues when pressing the barbell, or find a particular angle to be more comfortable. The barbell locks your wrists and shoulders into one position for the entire ROM, which doesn’t agree with all lifters.
[Related: 3 Exercises You Can Do On the Floor to Become a Better Powerlifter]
Using dumbbells can reduce strength imbalances on each side. Since dumbbells are harder to stabilize than a barbell, it may slow the lift down, providing more time under tension.
4 Benefits of the Floor Press
Here are four benefits of the floor press, regardless of which variation you choose. Don’t let a lack of bench stop you from improving your upper body strength and mass.
Chest and Triceps Builder
When performed for sets of 3-5 and 6-15 reps, the floor press is a great move to add mass to the chest, shoulders, and triceps without adding excessive strain to the shoulders due to the decreased range of motion.
Upper Body Strength
Like other partial range of motion lifts (rack pulls and box squats), the floor press is great for targeting certain portions of the lift. With the floor press you can handle heavy loads in the top half of the movement, strengthening your triceps, chest, and anterior shoulders.
Lockout strength is often a weakness when it comes to bench and overhead pressing, Olympics lifts, and even strongman events. It often results in missed lifts and unstable lockout positions. The floor press is a fantastic exercise to target this weakness as you can handle heavier loads with undue strain on the rest of your body.
Great Exercise For Beginners Or Coming Back From An Injury
Due to the floor reducing shoulder external rotation, this variation is an excellent lift for those with banged up shoulders. The shoulders are sometimes vulnerable when in abduction and external rotation — common positions of a standard bench press.
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This move is great for beginner lifters because the reduced ROM can reduce aches and pains that might be caused by larger ROM movements. It also helps build up strength and better control for more difficult lifts such as the bench press. Finally, the increased stability of the floor can help improve pressing mechanics and positioning.
The floor press is a great exercise to have in your training arsenal because it is an excellent upper body strength builder, is great mechanically for beginning lifters, and can help those recovering from injury ease back into pressing movements. It allows you to lift heavy from the safety of the floor without putting excessive strain on your joints. Never again will you have to worry about all the benches being occupied at the gym, as you’ll have a new perspective when seeing open floor space.
Feature image from Muscular Humans’ Instagram page.