Focus Physique
The Floor Press: The Ultimate Forgotten Chest Exercise

The dumbbell floor press and barbell floor press are forgotten chest exercises that we’re going to pick up and dust off! There are multiple benefits unique to these presses that you’re missing out on and we’re going to cover everything you need to know!

The floor press can be thought of as the granddaddy of the barbell bench press. The earliest record of this lift is from 1899 when George Hackenschmidt pressed about 361 pounds on the barbell variation.

From here, the floor press eventually evolved into the barbell bench press that we know today. This was due to the added range of motion and extra chest activation seen in the barbell bench press.

This doesn’t mean however that this press doesn’t have a place in your workout routine!

Floor Press Exercise Basics

You can choose to perform this exercise with dumbbells, known as the dumbbell floor press, or a barbell, known as the barbell floor press. Both variations are effective with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Both variations can also be a primary exercise, even as a replacement to the barbell bench press with any rep range being appropriate!

From my experience though, it is possible you wouldn’t see best results doing the dumbbell floor press as your primary chest exercise. Then it would be better as a secondary exercise.

During execution, you need to consider leg placement and tempo. For the leg placement, you can choose to either have the knees bent and feet flat on the floor or have the legs laid straight out in front of you.

Personal preference is really the only difference between the two, but if you decide to have feet on the floor, it’s important to make sure you aren’t adding any leg drive to the exercise.

For the tempo, you need to always make sure that you pause in the bottom position. The floor press is a strict exercise always.

Floor Press Benefits

What keeps this press relevant is the unique benefits it has to offer. Based on your goals, this might be just the press you’re looking for!

Boost in Strength

Pressing from the floor is known to build strength in the lockout portion of the bench press and in the sticking point as well! This is why the pause at the bottom is so important. Without the pause, momentum will hurt your potential gains with this exercise.

Easier on The Shoulder Joint

The floor press is easy on the shoulder.
Since the floor press doesn’t go through a full range of motion, this places less stress on the shoulder joint. This makes it a great option for those with temperamental shoulders.

Tricep and Shoulder Emphasis

Pressing from the floor delivers a special emphasis onto the triceps and shoulders because of its range of motion. You will feel this when you do the exercise as well! In addition to this emphasis on those key areas, it is an effective chest builder too!

Dumbbell Floor Press

Dumbbell Pros:

  • Very easy on the shoulder, even more so than the barbell variation
  • Lots of variations to choose from

Dumbbell Cons:

  • Might not be very effective as your primary chest movement

The dumbbell floor press can be highly variable, therefore, you can tailor it to your goals even more so when compared to the barbell variation.

For example, if you do the dumbbell variation with the elbows closer to the body, there’s more triceps the closer you get. You won’t be able to do as much weight, but this can be a great accessory movement to another chest exercise.

If you do the “traditional dumbbell floor press”, it makes for a great pressing movement in your routine with good chest activation.


To execute the dumbbell variation properly, you will want to sit with your legs straight out. From here, place the dumbbells onto the knees, or have someone help you do this, and walk your legs up until you can lie onto your back and place the arms into position.

Barbell Floor Press

Barbell Pros:

  • Great for hypertrophic and strength gains
  • Strong carryover to the barbell bench press

Barbell Cons:

  • Less variations unless you used something like a multi-grip bar

The barbell floor press is a great compound movement to build strength and muscle. It can be used as your first, primary chest exercise if you’d like it too for a wide range of reps.


To execute the barbell variation properly, you will want to find a squat rack and set the j-hooks or safety bars (depending on what you choose to rest the bar on) at a height appropriate to be able to rack and unrack the bar.

With the bar resting in place, you will lie on your back with your eyes underneath the barbell. From here, simply unrack the bar and begin pressing.

*Tip: Placing a mat on the ground may make the exercise feel better.

Get Pressing!

Now you know the benefits of the floor press exercise and can apply them to your own training! It’s time to bring this exercise back to the mainstream because it is an effective chest and strength builder!

Have you ever tried the barbell or the dumbbell floor press? What did you think?

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About Brennen Elboeck

I'm Brennen, the founder of I want to give hundreds of thousands of people science based, practical physique and life transforming information! To never miss a post or what's new make sure to sign up for our newsletter above!

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