Fixing your pressing issues with the floor press is a witty headline, don’t you think? Or maybe it’s me, but regardless of your thoughts, the floor press is important when you take your strength seriously. It’s an exercise often in my strength programs, and I regularly program it for my clients.


First, it is safe because you are on the floor, which reduces any threat the brain feels and increases your stability. Some people are intimidated by barbell pressing exercises, and the dumbbell floor press is a great introductory exercise. Pressing with a barbell is excellent because you can use the most weight, but only some have the mobility or the confidence to use it.

The main reason I like it is that it’s more of a triceps exercise because of the reduced range of motion the floor provides. This is important because the triceps is one muscle that can get significantly weaker as we get older. Plus, triceps strength plays a role in shoulder and elbow health, reducing injuries and improving sexiness.

Yeah, and it also brings some game for your flex appeal. Here, I’ll get into all things floor press so that you can reap the gains of this excellent exercise.

How To Do The Dumbbell Floor Press

1.   Lie on the floor with a dumbbell by your side.

2.   Roll over and grip the dumbbell with both hands with your feet shoulder-width apart or legs outstretched.  

3.   With a firm grip, roll on your back, press till lockout, and remove one hand. 

4.   Lower the dumbbell until your triceps and elbow touch the ground.

5.   Press and lock out your elbow.

6. Slowly lower to the floor, reset and repeat for desired reps, and then switch sides.

Dumbbell Floor Press Muscles Trained

Pressing from the floor takes the lower body mostly out, making this predominately an upper-body exercise.

Chest: The initial push off the floor is all your chest.

Shoulder: Assists the chest muscle with the initial push off the floor.

Triceps: Once your arm is off the floor, the triceps kick in to extend your elbow. 

Obliques: The oblique muscles contract isometrically to prevent your upper body from excessively rotating.

Floor Press Benefits

The benefits are the fun part and the main reason why the dumbbell floor press is a routine staple. One of the best things about using a dumbbell over a barbell is its freedom of movement, which makes it easier on your joints. Now, this is important if you are old like me.

Chest and Triceps Builder

When you perform the dumbbell floor press for three to five sets in the six to 15 rep range, it is a great move to add muscle and strength to the chest, shoulders, and triceps without excessively straining the shoulders due to the reduced ROM.

Improved Upper Body Strength

With the dumbbell floor press, you have an increased ability to handle heavier loads in the top half of the press to strengthen your triceps, chest, and shoulders safely and effectively.

Excellent Shoulder Workaround

Due to the reduced ROM limiting shoulder movement, the dumbbell floor press is the perfect gift for those with shoulder ouches. It’s an excellent exercise for beginners because it helps build the strength and control for more difficult lifts like the bench press.

Strengthens Imbalances

When you use two dumbbells, each arm is pressing separately, and it becomes apparent whether you have imbalances between sides. Using just one dumbbell also improves strength imbalances between sides because the weaker side lifts the same amount as the stronger side.

Floor Press Form Tips

Just because the dumbbell floor press is safe and relatively easy to perform doesn’t mean you can’t screw it up. Here are four things to watch out for to get the best out of this exercise.

Control Control Control

Lowering the dumbbell too quickly, bouncing your arm off the floor, and twisting your body to lift the dumbbell are sure signs you have lost control. If this is happening to you, don’t be silly; reduce the weight and lift with more control.

Watch Your Range Of Motion

The dumbbell floor press is already a partial range of motion exercise, and by NOT touching your arm to the floor or extending your elbow, you can kiss some of your gains goodbye.  

Did Someone Say Elbow?

Having your elbow close to your upper body doesn’t give the shoulder much room to move, which will probably not feel great over time. Flaring the elbows away from your upper body puts the shoulders at increased injury risk and reduces the muscle-building tension. Instead, having your elbow at a 45-degree angle (as demonstrated in the video)  is a better pressing position.

Improper Set-Up And Finish

Rolling onto your side to grip the dumbbell (with both hands) and rolling onto your side to lower the dumbbell after your set is the safest way to perform the dumbbell floor press. Doing it any other way is unsafe for your shoulders and others around you.

Dumbbell Floor Press Programming Suggestions

The dumbbell floor press is an excellent exercise for strengthening imbalance between sides and improving the size and look of your chest, triceps, and shoulders. Training this exercise between the six to 15 rep range for three to five sets works well for most exercisers. I like to program the dumbbell floor press in supersets with an exercise that doesn’t compete with it.

Here are a couple of examples.

1A. Dumbbell Floor Press 6 -12 reps per side

1B. Dumbbell Farmers Carry 40 yards.


1A. Dumbbell Floor Press 6 -12 reps per side

1B. Single Leg Hip Extension 12 reps per side

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, if you have gotten this far, you now realize the awesomeness of the floor press. It will safely improve the size and strength of your upper body while you lie on the floor. What’s not to love?

And because you are on the floor, it is easier to rest. Now, that’s the real reason it’s my favorite.

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