Most people interested in fitness want to develop their arms and chest and, unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get there. You might have been toiling away for weeks in the gym and seen little progress, but adding this exercise to your weights regime could be the boost you need to get big. Incorporating the floor press for bigger arms and chest is a safe and surefire way to see results.
The floor press is an overlooked and undervalued exercise for developing your triceps and chest while avoiding too much pressure on your shoulders. It’s also an awesome help for your bench-pressing capability in the long run, helping you with your stability while building the smaller auxiliary muscles that often go unchecked when sticking exclusively to the bench press.
How to Do the Floor Press
- Set up a barbell on a raised platform at either side, or on the low setting of a weights rack.
- Lie down on the floor beneath the barbell. Make sure that your lift won’t result in bringing the bar down onto the rack (or platform).
- On the subject of bent knees the ruling is 50/ 50. Some straighten their legs, some keep them bent with their feet flat on the floor. Keeping them straight avoids stress on your spine and the temptation to rely on them for stability.
- Keep your elbows tucked tight to your body. If you let your arms flap then you will put undue stress on your joints. Tucking your elbows also places the strain on your triceps where you want it.
- Ideally, get someone to pass you the barbell for your first lift so that you can keep your shoulders locked tight to avoid straining them.
- As you lift it is normal to go just for the press part of the pushing movement, but you need to think of it half as a row. As you reach the top of the lift, don’t just let the bar crash back down to Earth. Purposefully lower the bar, bringing your lats into play while simultaneously working on your stability by activating your core.
- At the bottom of the lift, pause and count to two while keeping your muscles contracting before pressing again.
The floor press is similar to the bench and all presses as it essentially work your pecs. The muscles that it works is all in the angle of your grip. By keeping your elbows tighter than you would with a bench press you are making your triceps the primary muscles that you work. All the while your pecs ought to be tight and engaged, making the floor press and excellent exercise for contracting your chest muscles. Your shoulders ought to come into play at a minimum and your lats will activate as you slowly lower the bar down towards you.
Benefits of Doing the Floor Press
You will see great results in terms of increased triceps and pectorals hypertrophy. This is best achieved with a higher rep range around the 10 – 15 mark of a heavier weight.
Because of the shorter range, the floor press is an excellent way of building your upper body strength by allowing you to work with heavier loads, which will come more easily as a result of not moving the weight as far. This is how it can benefit full-range exercises. By isolating the muscles used in this partial range you’ll find that, in the long game, your strength will increase – helping you when you’re at that point in your bench press.
In competitive lifting and powerlifting one of the causes of a missed lift can be a weak lockout due to elbow tension. Floor presses are good training for lockouts with heavy weights, which can help you with the likes of snatch and jerks in a competitive capacity.
The floor press is easier on your shoulder joints than the bench press. Good news for anyone recovering from a shoulder injury and looking for an exercise that works the triceps and chest without undue stress. It also takes your back out of the equation, meaning that your force will come from your arms and chest, as opposed to your back.
Variations of the Floor Press
Barbell Floor Press
The barbell floor press is the standard form of the floor press, which we mentioned earlier. It comes loaded with the advantage of heavier lifts than you could otherwise muster with dumbbells or kettle bells. It also helps your bench press by using the same equipment and grip.
Swiss Bar Floor Press
The Swiss bar is the kind with the alternate grips set at right angles to the bar. This affords you the opportunity to really hammer your triceps with a more neutral grip. While the set up and performance of this press is the same as that of the barbell, the neutral grip further reduces shoulder strain and may be more applicable in the context of sports such as wrestling and football.
Dumbbell Floor Press
Dumbbells allow you the freedom of a more natural range of movement. You can also alter the angle of your press and manipulate the muscles you will put more stress on, be it your chest or triceps. The brilliance of dumbbell exercises compared to others is that their independent movement means that your muscles must work to counter the instability. This also results in symmetrical strength.
One-Arm Floor Press
For the one armed press it is best to bend your knees for stability. It also helps if someone places the weight in your hand while your arm is already extended. Use a neutral grip with your palm facing inwards. Your free arm should be at your side, or with your palm flat on your belly.
Begin the exercise by lowering the barbell until your elbow touches the ground. Make sure to breathe in as this is the eccentric (lowering part of the exercise).
This lift will iron out asymmetry and also put your core to use when helping to keep you balanced.
One-Arm Floor Press with Leg Lift
This one will put your core to serious work. Akin to a leg raise, keep your legs straight and your heels raised off the floor so that your abs contract. Then see our previous lift on how to perform a one armed dumbbell floor press and feel your abs burn.
Floor Press and Squeeze
Another excellent advantage of dumbbells is the benefit of the squeeze. With a neutral grip (palms facing your torso) perform a dumbbell floor press, bringing the dumbbells together from your chest. It’s best to begin with your arms extended, then lower them to your chest. From there, squeeze them together and push to emphasise those important pec contractions while working your triceps.
Take Home Message
You may see the floor press as a stepping stone to improving your bench press, but it’s time to acknowledge it as the killer tricep workout. It allows you to lift a lot more than you can with tricep extensions, while developing your chest. You can clearly see the benefits of the floor press for bigger arms and chest, so incorporate this one into your gym routine to be a muscle machine.