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Are Floor Presses Effective For A Raw Bencher?

A T-Nation poster wonders if doing floor presses would benefit an unequipped bencher.

Is it worthwhile for the raw bencher to do? And also, what is your floor press in relation to your raw bench, smaller or bigger and within what percentage do you think?

Opinions:

i think its worthwhile if you are weak at the top. i dont think thered be an exact percentage difference

Why not? Raw benchers need to lock out too. Granted, it's usually not the weak link for a raw bencher, but at worst, floor presses will just give you strong tris. Nothing wrong with that.

Drop the pressdowns as your preferred tri movement and do the floor and board presses.

I like floor press with a pause. For whatever reason my sticking point tends to be right at the bottom position of my floor press. So doing it with a pause I feel helps me get extra strength in the area the bar stalls out in.

Something a lot of people don't think about is that floor presses are different for everyone. When guys like Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, and two of the guys I work out with do floor presses the bar is very close to their chest when in the bottom postion because they are so think or because the have short arms etc.

Since I weigh in at 185-190 I don't have near the thinkness that my training partners do so the floor press is just like the 2-3 board press. When my elbows hit the bar is no where near my chest.

So if you're think and short armed then yes the floor press is great. If you are not so think with long(ish) arms then it may not do so much for you. Unless, as already mentioned, you lock out strength sucks. I would,then, use the floor press as an accessory movement or do something else to bring up your triceps. That and work on your bar speed.

I think it probably depends on the weakpoint of the individual and the length of their arms. For those with T-Rex-like short arms, the bar might actually touch their chest at the bottom of the floor press as long as the have a good arch. For me its only a couple inches away from my chest.

for me even close grip floor presses are only about 1-2" from the bottom position and I'm only 170 or so right now.

In Jim Wendler's benching for strippers article (no bench shirt) he recommends floor presses, along with low board work. Do them with a pause for best results.

Wrong.
Floor presses not only improve tricep strength, but they teach you (if done right) to use your lats as a stabilizer on the descent and a secondary mover on the push. Besides the fact that they are great for building explosive power, since you are starting from a dead spot.

Since when is the floor press considered a lockout exercise? It's a lower end exercise for me. My raw bench ROM is much shorter due to my arch. I personally LOATHE floor presses but I still do em cuz I suck so bad at em. It's around 90% of my raw max.

"Besides the fact that they are great for building explosive power, since you are starting from a dead spot."

Why not do pin or board presses instead? Also, I'm a little touchy on this because I just tried to read a few poorly done studies on the subject, but floor presses will not increase your ability to do more work more quickly. Movements from a static start on the concentric also tend to be low on the totem pole for increasing RFD.

I don't dislike floor presses because they don't do anything, I dislike board presses because they don't do anything better than a half dozen other exercises.

Let's take a look at what's going on in a floor press:

1) You're lying on the floor. This puts your hips, legs, and spine in different positions than when bench pressing. Already you have altered press mechanics that will "teach" a different recruitment pattern. Scapular pinning is also at an all time high, resulting in some weird things happening in the shoulder girdle.

2) You're forced to stop before reaching the chest. This engrains two things if used extensively - the descent ends early, so stabilizers as well as prime movers are taught to cut out early, and there's a solid support surface to stop on. I firmly believe using floor presses a lot is a culprit in instability in the hole for benchers who use them extensively.

3) Risk of injury is higher. It's not easy to unrack or spot this lift (I'm thinking of blunt trauma to the elbows as the main problem).

So a quick summary:

Pros - improve lockout strength, teach lat recruitment, start from dead stop

Counters - so do a million other exercises, improper recruitment patterns ingrained if used extensively

What to use instead - bench press, bench with chains, isometrics in the desired range, board press, pin press, etc etc.

I realize that occasional use isn't going to severely damage mechanics in an experienced lifter. They also aren't going to help much either. Practice lat recruitment when doing full range presses, strengthen the lockout in an unaltered pattern.

I truely like to do floor presses with db's. They are great for stabilization, and it also let's you do something different. Just remember to go down slowly as to not bounce your elbows off the floor.

Per Louie:
"Explosive strength can be developed by using moderate resistance with maximum speed. This is the dynamic method. Two simple training methods to accompany the dynamic method are the box squat for squatting and pulling strength and the floor press with dumbbells or a barbell. For both exercises, after the eccentric phase, many of the muscles are in a relaxed state. This is followed by any explosive concentric motion. This will increase the rate of force development (RFD). We also find that maximum concentric work also increases RFD. With the use of extremely heavy weights, bar velocity may be slow, but nevertheless, overcoming a large load dynamically causes a fast RFD."

Per Wendler:
"Here is a list of great max effort exercises for the raw bencher:

Floor Press
2 Board Press
Incline Press
Bench Press
1 Board Press

Stick with these five exercises during your max effort cycles."

"Why not do pin or board presses instead?"
Pin presses involve no eccentric motion which creates a stretch reflex in the muscle.
Board presses allow you to feel the weight on your chest. Floor presses do not.

"How would they do this more than a properly executed bench press?"
Floor presses should be done with a medium or close grip for maximum effectiveness. I do them medium grip and my chest is involved very little when pressing. Most benching is done with a full/wide grip. All your muscles are working together to stabilize the weight, therefore your lats don't get as much work as they could.

"2)You're forced to stop before reaching the chest. This engrains two things if used extensively - the descent ends early, so stabilizers as well as prime movers are taught to cut out early, and there's a solid support surface to stop on. I firmly believe using floor presses a lot is a culprit in instability in the hole for benchers who use them extensively."
By that logic, board presses and pin presses are also "culprits for instability in the hole".

"3) Risk of injury is higher. It's not easy to unrack or spot this lift (I'm thinking of blunt trauma to the elbows as the main problem)."
Are you serious? This is one of the easiest and safest lifts to spot. At lockout/liftoff the bar is about at my knee level - pretty easy to do a deadlift rack lockout from that position if I need to give assistance to the lifter. As far as elbow trauma, you shouldn't be slamming your elbows to the floor anyway. Just touching will suffice. If you're that fragile, find another sport.

"You're lying on the floor. This puts your hips, legs, and spine in different positions than when bench pressing"

So does decline & incline, especially if you arch on the bench.

Floor Presses are alot like box squats. An eccentric motion, a pause and relaxing of tension, then an explosive concentric press.
What many fail to realize is that the conjugate method emphasizes finding exercises that mimic the classic lift, to train the motion while preventing overtraining. The Floor Press accomplishes this quite well.

Most successful gyms (WSB, MM, NGBB, etc.), notable strength coaches (Simmons, Wendler, Tate, etc), and top benchers all use floor preses in their training cycle. I can't imagine why they'd do that if the exercise didn't work.

Personally, in the absence of leg drive I have a difficult time getting up on my traps and my chest high enough to achieve a position were I am at the greatest advantage to lower with my lats.

As I mentioned before, the first time I tore my pec it was on floor press, and I can assure you my form wasn't that off.

Floor pressing is a much more pure pressing movement because of what I mentioned above (lack of leg drive, inability to hold a meaningful arch in the lower or upper back) and anybody who says their pecs are virtually eliminated from the movement is either full of shit, thin as a sheet of paper from front to back, or have just not spent enough time to figure out where the rubber hits the road.

When I do floor press, the bar is about 1 inch from my chest. If I arch hard, it touches. Now explain to me how I eliminate pec involvement? Actually, don't even try because you cannot.

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Thanks for posting this Jon. I too am looking at whether it is too much work to include floor presses as part of my training as it seems I have lost a bit off my bench since incorporating them along with some other heavy work that I normally would not do (like shoulder presses).

I have found floor presses one of the better tricep movements. I had done lock outs in the past, but gave up on them when I felt the extra 6 sets I was doing was bringing my Masters Level 2 body to the brink of failing and possible injury. Instead, I fell back on the lighter cable dumbbell movements. In my current cycle, I have considered taking the same path back to the lighter assistance work.

But, looking at the pros and cons in making that decision, I have decided to stay with the floor presses and give up the lighter movements instead. Hopefully, in the end, I will be stronger for going this route and will have not overtrained as a result of trying to do too much. Perhaps as I get nearer to the end of the cycle and when I would normally quick doing most assistance work, I will consider doing lighter cable/dumbbell work then.

Lift..., what else?

To be used within a raw bencher's rotation of special exercises, floor presses are good. Just make sure you have lots of full range max-effort exercises in that rotation e.g. chain press, band press, raw triples etc.

I have found, so far, floor presses to be useless in terms of a ME or core exercise. But their really good for extra tricep work when done with a close or narrow grip. I also have started doing dumbell floor presses with the palms facing each other, those are cool to.

Thanks,
Mike Pelosi

i havent done em in a while, none of our racks support it and i lift alone a lot so :(