Hopefully, you all enjoyed the very first installment of Move of the Week. Here’s the second installment: the barbell floor press!
THE MOVE: Barbell Floor Press
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal pushing pattern: chest, shoulders, lats, upper back, and triceps.
WHY DO IT: When done correctly, the bench press develops upper body strength and muscle mass like few other exercises can. Using a full range of motion, from full elbow lockout to the barbell touching the mid torso, is standard in powerlifting but also the most taxing, which could lead to undue stress in the shoulders and achy elbows if programmed incorrectly.
This is where assistance exercises come in. One of the most useful variations of the bench press in the floor press shown above. The floor essentially cuts the range of motion in half, forcing you to focus on the upper half of the motion and locking out at the very top. This is also easier on the shoulders. Finally, by having the legs lay straight we take leg drive out of the equation, which forces you to draw stability predominantly from your core and upper body.
HOW TO DO IT: When my fellow coaches and I were going through our powerlifting cycle last summer, we found that higher volume on the floor press contributed greatly to improvements in the full bench press. For this reason, I recommend 3-4 sets of 8 reps on the floor press. Loading up the bar to make up for the decreased range of motion is also not a bad idea!
Start by lying down on the floor beneath the racked barbell. Unrack the bar and walk it out until your arms are perpendicular to the floor. Brace your core to stabilize, and actively pull the bar down in the same line of pull as that of your normal bench press. The elbows should come down at a 45-degree angle. Tap your upper arms to the floor and pause at this bottom position for one second. Finish the rep by pushing away from the floor and locking out at the top.
If you are looking to improve your bench, you’d be making a mistake by dismissing the floor press. Start using it, and let us know what you think!
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.