Choosing the right exercise can often be overwhelming. With so many different variations and ways of building muscle and strength, it can be confusing to know which is right for you.
In my opinion, the best exercise is the one that works for you and that helps you towards whatever goals you want to achieve.
In this article, I discuss the similarities and differences between the two and which is best for your goals.
- Floor Press Vs Bench Press: Key Differences Compared
- Floor Press Overview
- Bench Press Overview
- People Also Ask (FAQs)
Floor Press Vs Bench Press: Key Differences Compared
For Muscle Growth
The bench press targets the chest muscles to a greater extent than the floor press due to the larger range of motion and the increased loading place on the muscles.
When it comes to hypertrophy, bench press has the edge. However, what the floor press does have over the bench press is the ability to increase the amount of volume you can do to induce muscle hypertrophy.
It all comes down to how much volume bench press you're body can take, if you're susceptible to injury, floor press is the better choice.
Winner: Bench press
For maximal strength
When it comes to building some serious strength, both exercises can be used effectively to reach this goal. What the bench press achieves that the floor press doesn't, is larger range of motion. This means that the chest, triceps and shoulders all work to increase the rate you can press the weight up.
The floor press limits the range therefore reduces the amount of chest involvement. Plus the floor press eliminates the lower body drive meaning you're solely relying on the shoulder, chest and triceps to push the weight.
These are the reasons the floor press doesn't quite allow for as much weight to be lifted and for pure strength goals, the bench press is the way to go.
Winner: Bench press
If you're looking to build your chest muscle, the bench press is the best option out of floor vs bench press. This is mainly due to the increased range of motion your chest goes through during the bench press.
It’s also worth noting that most people can lift more weight during the bench press movement than they can during a floor press, so the increased load will also have a more significant effect on your chest development.
But, I have found that if you hit a sticking point with your bench press, the floor press can help you blast through any sticking points you might have. This suggests that a combination of both the floor press and bench press go together like eggs and bacon; they complement each other and, in turn, will grow your pecs.
Winner: Bench press (but the combination of both is the sweet spot)
During my comparison of floor press vs bench press, I found that the floor press created more activation of the shoulders.
Even though the floor press is excellent for building the chest, the range of motion favors strength being built in the triceps and shoulders as it focuses mainly on the last portion of a bench press lift (the lockout).
However, the bench press does work the anterior delts, and the work the delts have to do increases as the incline of the bench press increases. This is one of the many reasons I love incline bench press. Not only does it work the upper pecs, but it requires more work from the deltoids, resulting in more muscular growth.
Even though both are great for shoulder development, I feel the floor press wins this one.
Winner: Floor press
Even though the bench press and floor press are primarily classed as chest building exercises, they work your back muscles too. The primary back muscle activated during these movements is the lats (latissimus dorsi).
The lats work incredibly hard during the negative phase of the bench press movement and act as an antagonist to the pectoral muscles. It's also the center support for the weight you're bench pressing as it goes through the negative lifting phase (towards your chest).
When comparing the floor press vs bench press for back development, the back won't be as engaged during the floor press due to the reduced range of motion. Therefore it's an easy win for the bench press here.
Winner: Bench press
The core is a vital part of your body and is required for both floor and bench press.
But which one uses more core muscles? – If I’m being honest, it isn’t easy to tell. Whenever you’re pressing heavy weight above your body, your core will be working hard to keep you stable, ensuring you have a stable base to lift the barbell (or dumbbells).
Choosing The Weight
Start by using a weight you can complete 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps (with the last 2 reps being close to failure). Then increase the weight by a small increment, e.g., 5lb per side.
The floor press requires very little equipment, mainly just the barbell and weights you’re using. This makes it a great option if you have little space to train or only have a small amount of equipment. However, the bench press requires a bench press (which is rather bulky) and a barbell.
The equipment you require will vary depending on what variation of the floor press or bench press you’re doing. For example, you would need dumbbells for alternating dumbbell bench press, or you’d need a set of resistance bands for resisted floor press.
If you have a home gym, then the floor press might be the ideal solution for building your upper body strength as it doesn’t take up much space to perform, and you won’t need to spend money on a bench press.
Safety & Injuries
When it comes to your safety during both movements, you’ll require a spotter. The last thing you want is to be trapped under a loaded bar; it’s not only embarrassing but potentially life-threatening.
The floor press has an awkward starting position if you aren’t using a floor bench press rack to hold the bar, requiring you to lift the barbell into place before you start your reps. This is a difficult task for all users, especially beginners.
However, the floor press is generally seen as a more shoulder-friendly movement as it has a much shorter range of motion, placing less stress on the shoulder joints.
On the other hand, the bench press has a much easier starting position. Still, it requires a spotter as you’ll generally be lifting heavier weights that’ll cause muscular fatigue pretty quickly.
The bench press also has a much more extensive range of motion and will engage the shoulders more than the floor press, which may cause an issue for some users with shoulder injuries. Try a bench press variation such as the neutral grip dumbbell press if you’re concerned about this.
Floor Press Overview
The floor press is an excellent exercise for developing muscle mass and strength in the upper body. It mainly targets the pectoral (chest) muscles, along with the triceps and anterior deltoids .
The movement is similar to a bench press, but your elbows will hit the floor before the bar reaches your chest. Due to this, the range of motion is reduced, making it more shoulder-friendly.
At the bottom of the floor press, your elbows will be flat to the floor, causing the movement to come to a complete dead stop. This encourages your muscular system to recruit muscle fibers to lift the weight from the dead stop position.
Many lifters use the floor press to overcome weak points in their bench press and strengthen your triceps’ lockout action.
All levels of lifter can perform the floor press. Still, I recommend that you always use a spotter, as lifting the barbell into the correct position can be a difficult task, especially if you're a beginner.
When Should You Use The Floor Press?
Those who are rehabbing shoulder/pec muscles
As I have already established, the floor press shortens the range of motion compared to the bench press, making it very beneficial exercise for those who are coming back from a shoulder or pec injury.
It can also be a very good exercise for those who are injury-prone and don't want to risk aggravating any old injuries.
no access to bench press
If you don't have access to a bench press then the floor press is a great variation so you don't have to miss out on valuable horizontal pressing strength.
You do however need a rack that let's you set up the bar low to the floor, or you can have somebody pass the barbell to you when your lying on the floor.
As a Supplementary exercise
The floor press can be used by all strength sport athletes such as powerlifters, strongman, crossfitters, and those who generally want to get stronger.
Floor press variations help build elbow extensor strength, targets weakness in the shoulders and triceps and provides the chance to increase volume with less strain on the joints.
However, if you can't perform this exercise, I suggest you try doing floor press alternatives.
How To Do The Floor Press Correctly
1. Lie on the floor, legs out straight.
2. Brace your core muscles and push your shoulders into the floor.
3. Lift the bar over your chest.
4. Bring the bar toward your chest until your triceps are flat against the floor (arms at 90 degrees), then press the barbell upward.
4 Best Floor Press Variations
There are several variations of the floor press you can try that required different types of equipment.
1. barbell floor press
The barbell floor press is the most common variation and for good reason. More weight can be lifted than if you were to use dumbbells or even kettlebells.
The barbell floor press can be performed with either a wide, medium or narrow grip. You can either place your feet on the floor with bent knees or have your legs out straight, this is a matter of personal preference.
2. Dumbbell floor press
The dumbbell floor press is a variation that targets the chest and triceps. It's a great accessory movement if you're lacking tricep strength.
It's also an excellent exercise for those wanting to increase the size of their triceps. As with the barbell variation, your leg can be either straight or bent during this exercise.
3. Resistance band floor press
A great variation for those working out at home or on the road with no equipment.
Simply loop the resistance band around your back and hold onto the end in each hand. Lie back on the floor and then press above your chest,
Never underestimate the workout you can get using resistance bands instead of a barbell or dumbbells.
Related Article - Resistance Band Chest Workout
4. Bridge floor press
This floor press variation is the same as the dumbbell floor press with the body in a bridge position (hips raised). The reason for doing this is it teaches to engage your glutes and hips in order to help transfer over to a stronger bench press.
If this isn't of interest to you, the bridge floor press can be used to engage your glutes, quads and core for a full body workout.
Pros & Cons Of Doing Regular Floor Presses
benefits of floor press
The floor press is a simple yet effective variation of the bench press that can be used as your primary lift, supplementary lift or solely by those who are injury prone and struggle with shoulder issues.
When people experience pain in their shoulders during a bench press, they often think they can't press a barbell horizontally, but this is where the magic of the floor press comes in.
It reduces the external rotation of the shoulder by limiting the range. The floor literally stops the elbows before the range is taken to a point where there is pain.
The floor press will effectively strengthen the chest, shoulders and places a higher demand in the triceps when compared to the bench press. It's the perfect exercise if you want to increase mass in your triceps.
To sum up, the main benefits are:
- Very effective for developing upper body strength.
- Great variation for those with shoulder injuries or issues that cannot bench press.
- Increases core activation.
Bench Press Overview
The bench press exercise is one of the most popular compound movements around.
Making up one of the big 3 lifts used in Powerlifting, bench press isn't only for those in pursuit of lifting as much weight as they can. It's also a great exercise for increasing the size of your pecs, shoulders and triceps.
The bench press is also a versatile exercise as well, you can switch up your grip and the angle of the bench to target different areas of your upper body, giving you a large amount of options to target any weaknesses.
When Should You Use The bench Press?
If you train in the sport Powerlifting the bench press is one of the three lifts you train to lift as much weight as you possibly can.
When it comes to training specificity, you want to spend the most time at the thing you're trying to get good at. Want to work on your strength for Bench? Do plenty of it!
Build Explosive Pushing Strength For Sport
Bench press has a good carry over to sports performance, not just for Powerlifting.
Those who participate in sports than involves throwing power, like baseball and football, will see improvements by incorporating bench press into their strength routine.
to increase muscle mass
The Bench Press is one of the best exercises for building bigger pecs, due to the high muscle activation and stress the muscles are placed under during this exercise.
Studies show that strength in the bench press and chest size has a strong positive correlation between them .
If you can't perform this exercise, you can try doing bench press alternatives that target similar muscles.
How To Do The Bench Press Correctly
1. Lie on a bench press.
2. Lift the barbell off the supports and hold it over your chest (in line with your mid-chest).
3. Draw your shoulders back into the bench.
4. Slowly bring the bar to your chest and press it upwards, squeezing your pecs. (Tip: Don’t bounce the bar off your chest).
7 Best Bench Press Variations
1. Barbell Bench Press
This is the traditional variant of the bench press using a 45lb Olympic barbell and a bench. It allows you to lift large amounts of weight, hitting your chest muscles hard.
The bench press is performed by lying on a bench and lifting the barbell off the rack so it’s in line with your mid-chest, and pressing the barbell up and down.
2. Close Grip Barbell Bench Press
The close grip barbell bench press moves the focus primarily onto your triceps . Your chest will still be worked, but not as much as the regular barbell bench press.
You can perform this movement by doing a bench press but with a much closer grip (shoulder width) and tucking your elbows into the sides.
3. Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press
A wide grip barbell bench press is brilliant for focusing on your chest muscle development. The shorter range of motion eliminates most of the triceps' workload, leaving you with a killer chest exercise.
This is performed the same as the regular bench press but with a wider (1.5x shoulder width) grip.
4. Glute Bridge Dumbbell Bench Press
This bench press variation requires you to engage your core muscles for stability.
To perform this movement, place yourself 90 degrees to the bench with your upper back resting on the bench and your feet supporting your body. Then press your dumbbells up and down.
5. Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press
The alternating dumbbell bench press is a brilliant iso-lateral movement that helps iron out any muscular imbalances that may have occurred from using a barbell (pretty typical in beginners).
Lie on a bench and press your dumbbells one at a time, alternating each arm every rep.
6. Incline Barbell Bench Press
If you want to work your upper chest, the incline barbell bench press is the movement you want. It’s performed exactly like a standard bench press but with an incline bench position.
7. Dumbbell Neutral Grip Bench Press
If you’re unlucky and develop a shoulder issue, the dumbbell neutral grip bench press will help. The neutral hand position removed the stress from the shoulders.
This can be performed like a regular dumbbell press but with a neutral hand position (palms toward each other).
Related Article - Accessory Exercises To Increase Bench Press
Pros & Cons Of Regular Bench Press Workouts
Benefits of bench press
The bench press is by far the most effective way to build muscle mass in your chest. It also builds some serious pushing strength.
This is a large compound movement that engages multiple muscle groups, improves muscular endurance and assists in improving other lifts and sports performance.
The bench press is also one of the best accessories to numerous other upper body workouts. A strong bench usually means a stronger grip, triceps, and shoulders, as well as a chest.
Benefits of the bench press include:
- Increases pecs, tricep and shoulder size
- Builds a more powerful upper body
- Defined delts
- Improved blood flow and bone health
- Improvements to sports performance
People Also Ask (FAQs)
No, this would be a floor press due to the limited range of motion. Your elbows will touch the floor before the bar reaches your chest.
Yes, you can; the movement was created way before the bench press and was used by many bodybuilders to develop the pec major, pec minor, anterior deltoids, and triceps. However, the traditional bench press gives you a greater range of motion and, therefore, causes more muscle growth; floor press is not a substitute for bench press.
This is because of the starting position of the barbell, which is usually on the floor unless you have a frame with j hooks. Lifting the bar overhead so it’s ready for the floor press is a difficult task, especially when it’s loaded. The bar also comes to a dead stop between each rep.
Always floor press whatever weight you can lift with good form. If your form is terrible, you need to lower the weight. This will be different for everyone, so start low and find the best weight for you.
After comparing the floor press vs bench press, I found that the latter is much better at developing your chest muscles and increasing your upper body strength.
If you have shoulder issues or a sticking point in your bench press, then the floor press could be an excellent option.
I recommend both exercises have a place in your workout routine, if you need to select one of them, I'd suggest choosing the bench press as it performs far better due to the increased range of motion.