A few years ago I found a program online that would allow someone to increase their bench press by 50 pounds in 8 weeks. That was pretty much the only goal I had at the time: A bigger bench press. I did the program and it worked. I was able to go from 225 up to 275 without much trouble. I also hurt myself and had a shoulder that bugged me for a long time. I now prefer to do floor presses, which I’ll show a demo of in this post, but I want to tell you why I got hurt.
I had next-to-no understanding of strength training anatomy. I’m also very tall. 6’8″. I also subscribed to the idea that there is a perfect way to perform an exercise, a one-size-fits-all approach. So I’d lower the bar the way I saw in this magazines, touch my chest, and press it out.
The only thing was, my arms are so long that when the bar hit my chest, my elbows were about a mile below my back. This was not optimal by a long shot. When performing the eccentric portion of the lift, if I stopped with my elbows in the same position as the men in the magazines, I’d still be three inches or more above my chest.
This is why I went to the floor, both with the dumbbell floor press variation and also with a barbell. In the floor press, you lie down pick up your weight, and press. And of course, your elbows stop when they hit the floor. Most men I know use this as an assistance exercise for their bench, but for my needs, I’ve found it a great exercise in its own right. Getting bigger is always a nice side effect of getting stronger, and the floor press does not limit the amount of weight I can lift. The more weight I can lift, the more muscle I can put on, regardless of what the routine is.
Here’s a demonstration of the barbell floor press.
I’ve also experimented with the board press, which has a similar effect. I lie down on the bench and put a board–usually a couple of 2x4s–on my chest. I lower the barbell to the boards and press back out. It’s a similar range of motion and seems to do just as much for me as the floor press. I do prefer the floor, however, as it’s less hassle than the boards are.
I also use a power rack, so be very careful if you’re trying to get a barbell in position for a floor press and you don’t have pins to set it on. A spotter could be a lifesaver to help you get into position.
That’s it! If you’re tall, you’re bored, or you just want to try something new, give this press variation a try and see how you do. Picking movements that benefit you will make your training that much better, every single time.