How to Master The Floor Press


A floor press is a strength training exercise that you are likely to see in any weight room. It looks very impressive, but it can be tough on the shoulders. It’s important to do this exercise correctly. Not only to prevent injury, but also so that you can actually feel the exercise in your chest.

In this article, we’ll go over how to do a floor press effectively to build up strength in your chest and arms. 

What Is A Floor Press?

A floor press is a weight lifting exercise that allows you to focus purely on your arms and chest while avoiding stress on the rest of your body. As one of the original weight lifting exercises, it’s been done well over a hundred years. 

It’s often done as a show-off move, with gym rats competing to see who could do the heaviest bench press. Floor presses predate the bench press, and when the bench press rose to popularity, some people abandoned the floor press. 

However, this exercise still retains a place in many people’s weight lifting routines, particularly those who are focused specifically on strength training. Floor presses provide stability that is difficult to get with a bench press, so you can build strength quickly. 

Who Uses A floor press?

Anyone can do a floor press as a way to build strength quickly in their upper body. Ideally, you should already have experience with smaller weights before moving onto heavy weight. 

Many athletes like to do floor presses as cross training for their sport. Bodybuilders and anyone else looking to bulk up quickly will find lots of benefit to using floor presses in their routine. 

Building up strength in your upper body is a good way to prevent injuries for any active person. If you need additional guidance to do a floor press correctly, a personal trainer can help you. 

How to Do A Floor Press

If you want to add a floor press to your weight lifting routine, it’s very important that you do it safely. Here are the key points that you should always remember when doing this. 

Lay on the Ground with Your Legs Extended

The purpose of the floor press is to focus your strength training entirely on your upper body without putting stress on the rest of your torso or on the lower body. In order to do this, you should make sure your legs are fully extended while you are bench pressing. 

If you need more stability while lifting flex your feet and press your heels into the ground.

If you bend your knees during the bench press, it could put undue stress on your lower back. So, you should always avoid it. This is because bending your knees changes the position of your spine during the exercise, causing it to arch. 

Position Yourself Under the Weight

Before you lift, you are going to need to get into position. Try not to be too far ahead of or behind the bar with your body. This could make the press more difficult and less effective.

A good place to start is to line up your eyes with the bar. Then make slight adjustments depending on the length of your arms until you find what’s most comfortable. 

You are going to keep a relatively narrow grip while pressing. Think about keeping your arms within the width of your shoulders. Before you start to press, think about stabilizing your shoulders and pushing them towards the ground. 

This helps prevent strain on your shoulders and back while giving you more control when lifting. 

Ask A Friend to Spot

It’s always best to do any sort of heavy weight lifting with a friend as a spot. Since you are holding a huge amount of weight, having someone to help makes the exercise much less dangerous.

It’s very difficult to pick up the bar from the ground on your own without significant muscular strain. Picking up the bar yourself can also compromise your form, making the exercise less effective. 

Having someone help you with the initial lift off ensures that you maintain your alignment for safer and more effective pressing. If you don’t have a friend with you, just ask a friendly face at the gym. 

Keep Your Elbows In

In order for the floor press to be effective, you need to maintain your alignment. Keep your elbows close to your body at a 45-degree angle. Then line up your wrists and elbows under the bar. 

If you flare your elbows out or pull them in at an odd angle, it’s going to put a lot of stress on your joints and make it hard to press effectively as well. 

You should also avoid letting your elbows hit the ground. Instead, think about bringing them into your chest and then out again, with only the backs of your upper arms touching the floor. 

This will allow you to access the strength in your chest, giving you more control and strength. 

Why the floor press

Why the Floor Press?

There are many reasons why people still love this exercise. Even in comparison to the bench press or other similar weight training exercises. Here are some of the benefits that the floor press offers. 

More Upper Body Strength

For focusing your training entirely on the upper body, it’s really difficult to beat a floor press. 

During this exercise, it’s virtually impossible to compensate with your legs if you are using the correct form. This means that the entire workout is focused on the muscles you want to train, like the chest and triceps.

Floor presses are an incredibly effective way to improve your upper body strength quickly. This is because the position you are in limits the elasticity of your muscles. This means you are relying almost entirely on the way your muscle contracts instead of any muscular stretch. 

This exercise limits your stretch reflexes from taking hold, which can inhibit your muscular growth. When your muscles are stretched too far, your muscle spindles automatically kick in to prevent the muscle from tearing. 

Since there is limited elasticity in play during a floor press, your muscular stretch reflex won’t kick in. So this means your contraction will build more strength. 

Larger Arms

Who at the gym isn’t looking to get bigger, more toned arms? A floor press is one of the best ways to bulk up the muscles in your arms, particularly your triceps. 

Not only do big triceps look great, but you’ll also have more power and control for a variety of different upper body-based exercises. You will also increase muscular hypertrophy in your pecs, so your chest will look much more toned and strong. 

Adding this exercise to your training routine will help you build strength fast. 

However, it’s very important that you maintain a well-rounded training regimen – balance is always important when trying to bulk up. A well-balanced body will ensure that your muscles work effectively in addition to looking great. 

Better Control and Form

If you are training to do a huge bench press, working on your floor press can actually help you. Many people also just prefer this exercise because it limits the range of motion in your shoulders and arms. Hence, giving you more stability. 

Floor presses won’t exacerbate your shoulder stress, unlike bench presses. Bench presses often result in your scapula rotating and your stretch reflexes compensating. 

They also reduce the stress on your back. If you typically avoid the bench press because you are worried about lower back pain, the floor press will give you much more stability. 

This exercise is also good for your general health. This muscle move is proven to help tame diabetes (WebMD, 2018).

Adding the Floor Press to Your Routine

The floor press is most effective when done to improve your maximum effort. Although, serious lifters will often use it for more repetitive, dynamic movement as well. 

If you already do bench presses, your maximum floor press will probably be at around 75 percent of your best bench press. Although, this varies from person to person. To improve your maximum floor press, you should stick to single reps with a rest in between, but at nearly full capacity. 

To use the floor press more dynamically, keep the weight between 40 and 70 percent of your maximum to avoid strain. For safety, it’s best for only experienced weight lifters to use dynamic repetitions, as they require very effective weight lifting technique. 

If you typically experience pain in your elbows and deltoids when doing presses, try doing this exercise with dumbbells instead of a bar. This helps you concentrate the effort in your triceps for great gains, but minimizes stress on your joints. 

This exercise is also easy to adjust for your own personal strength level. You can easily add more of a challenge when you feel it getting too easy. 

You can opt to do a dumbbell press with one dumbbell or two dumbbells. Using two gives you the option to press more weight, but using one dumbbell gives you a little more control. You’ll be relying on your core more for stability, so it’s a great way to exercise your abdominals in addition to your chest. 

Either way, you will want to do more reps with dumbbells than you would with bars. 

Another variation you can use is a Swiss bar press. It’s very similar to a traditional bar press. The major difference is that you will use different grip angles, so it’s a good way to thoroughly tone your triceps. 

The grip you will use with a Swiss bar is good for avoiding the shoulder strain that comes with a bench press or other types of upper body strength training. This grip is also excellent for people who play contact sports like football. 

Developed chest and arm muscles will give you more control in other athletic activities.  


Whether you are a beginner lifter or have been lifting for a long time, a floor press is a very effective way to tone your upper body and build strength quickly. Floor presses are a great complement to the bench press, and they’re excellent cross training for sports that require upper body strength. 

If you want more upper body strength or larger arms then you should definitely add the floor press to your training routine. 

When doing the floor press make sure you lay on the ground with your legs extended, position yourself under the weight, keep your elbows in, and have someone spot you. 

There are also plenty of variations that you can use to make the floor press more amenable to your physical abilities. 

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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  1. Hey Terry,
    Great article on the floor press. I’ve been implementing it with some of my clients and I feel its a great way to focus in on that upper body and a great way to mix up that lift from regular bench from time to time. Hey I know you cover a lot of supplements and was wondering if you’ve looked into the benefits of using cbd? There’s a good article about it here at Just wanted to get your thoughts on it.


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