The Floor Press

Floor presses with chains

The floor press may be one of the single best bench training exercises known to man that you aren’t using in your program.

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really used the floor press for many years. It wasn’t until I embarked upon a powerlifting specific program in the last couple of months that I put floor presses back into my programs.  For years, they were a staple.

Quite simply, floor presses train many of the areas where we are weak during the bench press.

They take our leg drive and stability out of the equation.

They force us to slow down the lift and pause at the bottom, thus negating the stretch-shortening cycle.  For all you reactive lifters out there (like me), this can make for a brutally tough lift.

And maybe most importantly, we can often use heavier weights in the floor press than we can in the bench press due to the diminished range of motion. While some might look at that as a deterrent, I look at look at it as a positive influence.

Getting heavy weights in our hands often breeds confidence for holding heavy heavyweights down the line. If you’ve never benched pressed 225 before, the first time you hold it in your hands for a PR attempt can be unnerving.

But, if you’re acclimated to that feeling by overloaded exercises such as the floor press, you’ll have much more confidence and be much more likely to hit the lift.

For raw lifters, I prefer the basic floor press. If you use gear, you can get a little sexier with your programming by adding chains, bands, etc.. One of my personal favorites when I was training exclusively for powerlifting was band assisted floor presses. This really put a premium on lockout strength, and got me accustomed to holding heavy weights on a week-to-week basis.

The only downside to floor pressing is the setup. Unfortunately, many gyms simply don’t have the equipment to effectively floor press. However, even in this case you can still use dumbbells to get some floor pressing.

Including the floor press in your programming can make a profound difference not only in your strength, but in your confidence levels as well.

Give floor presses a shot for the next couple months and let me know what kind of PR’s you end up hitting!

Stay strong



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  1. I cycle the floor press as a ME exerice pretty often and agree that its a great for building raw strength. However, Im also a good 20-25 lbs weaker on my floor press compared to my bench press (floor press strength is on par with my close-grip press). I was a little confused reading this post, as I was always under the impression that it should be a little weaker than the bench, due to the lack of leg drive, tightness, stretch reflex, etc… My 2-board press, on the other hand, is 20-25 lbs stronger than my bench. Wondering what your thoughts are, Mike?

  2. I’ve heard you and plenty of others raving about the floor press, but one thing that has always alarmed me about it is the notion of using extremely heavy weights that will ultimately end up in my hands with the elbows resting on the ground – I always have this notion that my forearms will snap like twigs if I’m not careful. Am I just being paranoid? Am I doing the exercise wrong? Can I address these concerns by doing them in a power rack set to the same height, or would that negate the benefits of the exercise?

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about it – you’re still maintaining tension in the bottom.

      If your arm is going to snap it could be during any exercise – not just during a floor press. Not sure how much consolation that is though!

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