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February 23, 2024
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The Floor Press - Strengthen the Midpoint of Your Bench Press
By Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com

So far at Critical Bench we have had articles discussing the importance of chains, bands, boards, bench press shirts, grip strength, speed work, and many other specialized bodybuilding, strongman, athletic and powerlifting techniques. However, we haven't talked about my personal favorite exercise "the floor press."

There are 3 basic types of floor presses.

1) Dumbbell Floor Press

Benching pressing with dumbbells but the lifter should be lying on the floor rather than on a bench while pressing the dumbbells) To perform this movement, lay on the floor, have a partner hand you two dumbbells, then bring the dumbbells down until your elbows hit the floor and then press the dumbbells to lockout.

dumbbell floor presses

2) Barbell Floor Press

Defintition from t-nation.com. This is one of the classic max effort movements that's stood the test of time. The floor press is performed by setting the hooks or supports up in a power rack so you can bench press while lying on the floor. Get under the bar with your shoulder blades together and shrugged into your traps. Tuck the elbows and unrack the weight. Lower the weight until your triceps hit the floor. Pause for a split second, then press the weight back up in a straight line. This movement can be done several ways. The first is with straight weight. Just warm up using three to five reps in an ascending pattern until you reach your one rep max. The second way would be to work up to 60% of your best bench press. When you reach this weight, you'll begin adding one 20-pound chain on each side of the bar with each additional set until you max out. For developing strength off your chest, using straight weight would be the best bet because it'll teach you to press out of the bottom with maximal weights.

barbell floor presses

3)Skull Crusher On The Floor

This is exactly like doing a tricep extension lying on the bench, but this time the bench presser should be doing tricep extensions on the floor. The lifter should extend the weight back so far that the weight touches the floor, and then bring the weight back to lockout. This will help the bencher increase tricep strength and explosiveness.

There are two different ways to floor press.

FLOOR PRESS STYLE 1: Floor pressing with your legs straight.

When you floor press with your legs straight in front of you, you will be able to floor press WAY LESS weight than what you would be able to bench press. On the bench press you are using other muscles such as your legs for drive and there are so many ways to cheat. However, when you floor press with your legs straight in front of you, there is no way to cheat! Therefore, you will discover your real upper body power without all of your other muscle groups and technique playing a role! When you floor press with your legs straight you will be able to attain additional power, which the flat bench press alone cannot provide.

FLOOR PRESS STYLE 2: The floor press with an arched back.

The second style of floor pressing is lying on floor with your knees bent instead of straight! This is the way that you will probably see most benchers floor pressing. By keeping your knees bent, the floor press then becomes more like a "decline bench press," depending on how much the bencher arches.

I suggest that sometimes you floor press with your legs up and other times with your legs straight. Mostly with your legs straight though to get the most out of this exercise.

How Does A Floor Press Help Your Bench?

Dave Tate According to Dave Tate; "Floor Press: This is a special max effort exercise designed to help strengthen the midpoint of the bench press. It is also very effective in increasing tricep strength. This exercise is performed exactly the same as the bench press except you lay on the ground instead of on a bench. Make sure to pause in the bottom of the movement before the accent. This exercise has been used with much success at westside barbell club for the past seven years."

Floor Press Tips

Chains and bands can be applied to the floor press. One of the scenes I remember most in Ryan Kennelly's DVD is when he is floor pressing lying flat on his back, legs out in front, with a narrow grip, with tons of bands as he seems to push the weight in slow motion to lockout!

Floor Press Rep Ranges

On the floor press I always enjoy doing 315 or 365 for sets of 10! However, high reps on the floor press are really "no man's land." When I go in the low 400- mid 400s for low reps, and soon to floor press 500lbs, I find it to be a far more effective way to gain maximum strength then just doing marathon sets with lighter weights. I suggest all of you do low reps on the floor press.

The Floor Press History Of The Floor Press

The floor press started before the bench press! The bench press was invented during the mid 19th century, but before the bench press was even invented lifters would lie on the floor and floor press. As the bench press started becoming popular lifters started to forget about the floor press and started bench pressing instead. However, within the last decade former bench press world record holder Jesse Kellum (who bench pressed 735@209 back when gear wasn't as effective as it is now,) re-invented the floor press and the exercise became popular again. He quickly discovered how much that the lift was helping him increase his bench press. Bodybuilders have also been using the floor press to help them build size.

Who Has The Strongest Upper Body In The World?

There is really no lift that is as good as measuring brute strength as the floor press because there is no way to cheat. If you took a lot of the world record bench pressers that you read about and if you took their shirts away, and the fancy techniques that they use on the bench press, and made them lie flat on their back with a narrow grip and made them floor press, you will see that their lifts would go down significantly. The most anyone has ever floor pressed that I have heard about was 675 by Dave Waterman, and many old school powerlifters find that Waterman's 675lbs floor press feat of strength has been one of the sickest upper body feat of strength of all time!

Other strength training experts also love the floor press. If you read Pavel's book power to the people, the only 3 exercises you need to get downright strong are the deadlift, push press, and the floor press. The floor press has been one of the foundation movements of benching and not only has the floor press been here longer than the bench press, I believe once the bench press is extinct, the floor press will still be around.


So, whether you are burned out with benching and prefer floor pressing instead, then the floor press might be a good substitute. Yet, if you want a bigger bench press, then the floor press will be your favorite assistance exercise to get that bigger bench press. The bottom line is that the floor press is an excellent lift! So, give floor presses a try today to maximize your upper body strength and spice excitement into your upper body training!

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