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What is a Floor Press?

By Douglas Bonderud
Updated Jan 30, 2024
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The floor press is a weight-bearing exercise similar to the bench press. It is performed by lying on the back, flat on the floor, and uses either dumbbells or a barbell to perform an upward, press motion. It can be used to target the chest or tricep muscles.

A dumbbell floor press is usually done by lying flat on the floor and having a partner hand down two dumbbells. The dumbbells are then lowered until the elbows touch the floor, and raised again to a locked position. This will aid in both pectoralis major and nearby stabilizer muscle development.

The barbell floor press is accomplished by lying down underneath a power rack, with the back flat on the ground and the knees bent. A power rack is a structure used to manipulate barbells safely. It has hooks or supports in place on metal posts, allowing barbells to be rested there when not in use. Once the lifter is in position on the floor, the shoulder blades are pushed together and the barbell is grasped. It is then lifted off the hooks and moved down to the chest in a normal bench press motion. The midpoint of this exercise occurs when the triceps hit the floor.

This type of floor press focuses on the weight lifted, rather than repetitions done, and uses high weight and few repetitions to increase performance. Another option with this type of press is to use it to test maximal chest muscle strength. In such a case, the legs are kept straight out in front of the body, rather than bent at the knee. This forces the chest muscles to operate on their own, without the benefit of any downward support force from the feet touching the ground.

Tricep muscles can also be worked by using a floor press position. This exercise is known as a skull crusher, and is performed by lying flat on the ground and having a weighted barbell extended directly above the chest. The barbell is then brought down above the head until the weight touches the floor, at which point it is returned to the starting position.

Floor presses have been shown to improve muscle strength in both the chest and triceps. These exercises can also increase the overall weight that a bodybuilder can use on a traditional bench press. Additionally, the floor press has been reported to cause less pectoral stress than a regular bench press, and is often used by people who have had repeated chest strains.

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