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Daniel Mesa

Barbell Floor Press: How To & Benefits

barbell floor press

During the rush of Bench Press Monday, the busy gym floor might feel like a battlefield, but experienced lifters stay calm because they know there is a powerful alternative that thrives in its own place. Instead of worrying about busy benches, take advantage of the space on the floor and try the barbell floor press, an exercise that not only goes against the grain but also helps you get stronger in ways you never thought possible. What’s the best? Dust on your back is a small price to pay for the benefits that come with it.

The barbell floor press is the best way to press weights, and it can be done by gym-goers of all levels of experience. This exercise isn’t just good for building muscle size and raw strength; it’s also a key to mastering the bench press and a lifesaver for people with sore shoulders.

We will explore the barbell floor press’s essence, execution, benefits, common pitfalls, and a variety of floor-press variations to sculpt your chest, triceps, and shoulders.

How To Do Barbell Floor Press

The barbell floor press is a variation of the standard bench press performed on the floor. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for completing this exercise:

Set Up

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Your upper back, shoulders, and head should be in contact with the floor. Position yourself so that your eyes are directly beneath the barbell.


Grasp the barbell with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your palms should be facing away from you (pronated grip).


With your arms fully extended, lift the barbell from the rack and hold it directly above your chest. Your elbows should be slightly bent.


Slowly lower the barbell towards your midsection by bending your elbows. Stop when your triceps make contact with the floor.


Pause for a moment to ensure stability, then press the barbell back up by fully extending your elbows.


Once your elbows are extended, lock out the movement, but avoid hyperextending your elbows.

Our Tips For Barbell Floor Press

Tip 1: Maintain Shoulder Stability

A successful barbell floor press relies on shoulder stability. Focus on maintaining your shoulders on the floor while performing the action. By doing so, you optimize chest muscle engagement and shield your shoulders. This strategy directs tension to specific muscles while minimizing shoulder joint strain.

Tip 2: Control the Descent

The fall is important to the barbell floor press symphony. Barbell descent should be slow and deliberate. This calibrated method boosts muscle fiber activation, promoting muscular growth. The regulated descent prevents you from using momentum to lift the weight. Avoiding such bouncing improves exercise efficiency and safety.

Tip 3: Breathe Mindfully

Breathing is an art that can improve your barbell floor press. Inhale deeply and purposefully as you drop the barbell to your chest. This air intake fuels your muscles and stabilizes your core. Exhale forcefully as you press the barbell up. This deliberate exhale helps effort and core stability, boosting lifting power.

Common Barbell Floor Press Mistakes To Avoid

Mistake 1: Arching the Back

Overarching the lower back is a common mistake that you should try to avoid. Even though a small natural arch can be helpful, too much hyperextension could hurt your lower back and general form. Keep your back in a neutral position as a top priority to get the most out of the targeted muscles and avoid pain.

Mistake 2: Flaring Elbows

Keeping your arms at a slight angle to your body is important. When doing the barbell floor press, letting your arms flare out too much can put extra stress on the shoulder joint, which could cause pain or even injury. Focus on controlled movement and keep your elbows in a safe range to help your muscles work well, and your joints stay healthy.

Mistake 3: Rushing the Movement

Don’t give in to the urge to hurry through the repeats. It’s important to move slowly and deliberately when doing the heavy floor press. When you move quickly, your muscles don’t have as much time to work under stress, which makes the exercise less effective in the long run. Use the deliberate pace to get the most out of your muscles, and make sure each exercise counts toward your progress.

What Muscles Do Barbell Floor Press Work? 

how to do barbell floor press

Chest Muscles (Pectoralis Major)

During a barbell floor press, the main chest muscle, the pectoralis major, is put to work. The pectoral muscles flex strongly during the upward phase of a barbell press, providing both the motive force and additional pressing power. The floor press is an excellent tool for developing a strong and defined chest because of the specific range of motion it allows for muscle activation.

Shoulders (Anterior Deltoids)

When doing a barbell floor press, the front of the shoulder, specifically the anterior deltoids, is crucial in stabilizing the movement and providing assistance. Your anterior deltoids will work hard as you press the bar off the ground to ensure a stable launch and steady ascent. This involvement helps maintain shoulder stability and also improves pushing strength.


The muscle group known as the triceps can be found towards the back of the upper arm and plays a pivotal role in the barbell floor press. During the pressing phase, it is their responsibility to fully extend their elbows and lock out the weight. The triceps receive great stress from the exercise, which promotes growth and strength in those muscles.


The barbell floor press primarily targets the upper body, but the abdominal muscles also play an important role. Core muscles engage to keep you stable and stop your lower back from arching too much while you move. This involvement not only helps to guarantee safe and efficient training but also improves the quality of your whole workout.

Upper Back

Stabilizing the barbell floor press are the rhomboids and trapezius muscles of the upper back. They help in keeping the shoulders back and stop the head from hunching forward. In addition to ensuring a risk-free performance, its stabilizing action encourages healthy, evenly distributed muscle contractions throughout the upper body.

Barbell Floor Press Benefits

Benefit 1: Shoulder-Friendly

Shoulder pain is a common problem for weightlifters, and the traditional bench press often makes it worse because of the overhead action. Here comes the dumbbell floor press to protect the health of your shoulders. This exercise is great for people with sensitive shoulders because it limits the range of motion and skips the part that could be hard on them. 

The floor press works the muscles while putting less stress on the shoulder joint. It is a good way to strengthen the chest and triceps without causing pain. The barbell floor press is a lifesaver for people with shoulder problems because it lets them work on their upper body without worrying about shoulder pain.

Benefit 2: Lockout Strength

Strength isn’t just about being able to start a lift; it’s also about finishing it with confidence. The barbell floor press is good for this kind of finishing strength because it focuses on the lockout phase. As the floor limits the range of motion, the final push to fully extend the elbows called the “lockout,” is done with more force than ever before. 

This focused attention on the lockout builds up strength in a part of the press that is often ignored. This new stop skill doesn’t just help you with the floor press; it also helps you do better with other pressing exercises. As you get better at the difficult lockout part of the barbell floor press, you improve your overall pressing skills and get better at using the bar.

Benefit 3: Muscle Imbalance Correction

Muscles make up the body like a melody, but if there are any imbalances, this can turn into a mess. The barbell floor press is like a musician who can pick up on any imbalances in the upper body. The floor press isolates the upper body by not using leg drive, which is usually used in standard bench presses. This shows any uneven growth in the upper body. 

When you do this, it’s easy to see where your power or muscle activation isn’t the same, so you can adjust your training to get back to balance. By doing the dumbbell floor press regularly, you can ensure that your upper body is balanced, reducing the risk of injuries caused by muscle imbalances. This exercise, which is often called the “great equalizer,” helps you build a body that is more rounded and strong.

Alternatives To Barbell Floor Press

Exercise Option 1: Dumbbell Floor Press

The Dumbbell Floor Press is a dynamic variation of the traditional barbell Floor Press that adds a new dimension of adaptability by using dumbbells. The larger range of motion in this exercise improves flexibility and muscle strength by allowing you to stretch and contract your muscles to a greater extent. 

The one-sided aspect of the exercise highlights muscular imbalances and encourages the development of balanced strength and stability. If you have physical or functional strength imbalances between your dominant and non-dominant sides, this option may be helpful.

Exercise Option 2: Push-Up Variations

The conventional push-up offers a wealth of variation and can be done almost anyplace with no additional equipment. Different push-up variations, including the regular, incline, decline, and diamond push-ups, place more or less emphasis on the chest, triceps, and shoulders, respectively. 

As the body learns to balance and adapt to new movement patterns, doing a variety of push-ups helps develop core stability and proprioception in addition to strength. In addition to the barbell floor press, this group of exercises is a mainstay of bodyweight training since it offers a more convenient and effective option.

Exercise Option 3: Board Press

The Board Press has emerged as an intriguing and effective form of specialist powerlifting. In order to focus on the lockout period of the lift, which is the most taxing, boards are strategically positioned on the chest to limit the range of motion. If you need help with a certain section of the standard bench press, this variant can help you get stronger there. The board press can help you break through performance plateaus and improve your bench press in general by isolating and focusing the lockout.

Bottom Line On The Barbell Floor Press

The barbell floor press is an often-overlooked but highly effective upper-body strength and mass-building exercise. Its distinctive mechanics provide benefits for shoulder health, lockout strength, and correction of muscle imbalance. By practicing correct form and incorporating this versatile movement into a well-rounded training regimen, you can obtain the benefits of this exercise.


Can the barbell floor press replace the traditional bench press entirely?

While the barbell floor press offers unique advantages, it’s not meant to completely replace the traditional bench press. Incorporating both exercises can provide a well-rounded upper-body workout.

How does the barbell floor press help with shoulder discomfort?

The limited range of motion in the barbell floor press reduces stress on the shoulders, making it a suitable option for individuals dealing with shoulder issues.

Is the barbell floor press suitable for powerlifters?

Absolutely. Powerlifters can benefit from the barbell floor press as it hones lockout strength, a crucial aspect of powerlifting competitions.

What’s the ideal set and rep range for the barbell floor press?

For muscle building, aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. For strength development, go for heavier weights and perform 3-5 sets of 4-6 reps.

Can I perform the barbell floor press at home without a power rack?

While a power rack can enhance safety, you can still perform the barbell floor press at home by having a spotter help you unrack and rack the barbell.


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  1. Saeterbakken, A. H., Mo, D. A., Scott, S., & Andersen, V. (2017). The Effects of Bench Press Variations in Competitive Athletes on Muscle Activity and Performance. Journal of human kinetics, 57, 61–71.