How to Dumbbell Floor Press – Technique, Muscles Worked and Benefits

This complete guide to the Dumbbell Floor Press will teach you everything you need to know about this useful and versatile exercise.

What is the Dumbbell Floor Press?

The Dumbbell Floor Press is an upper body compound exercise that utilises a partial range of motion to primarily strengthen the chest, shoulders and triceps.

It is performed lying down on the floor and can also be done using a barbell.

Even though it has a partial range of motion it still tests and improves multiple muscle groups and joints.

What Muscles Does the Dumbbell Floor Press Work?

The exercise primarily works the triceps and chest.

Although it is a pressing motion, the limited range of motion reduces the workload for the chest and increases the difficulty for the triceps.

These are the muscles used to perform the Dumbbell F Press:

  • Triceps
  • Chest (pectoralis major, pectoralis minor)
  • Shoulders (anterior deltoid)
  • Serratus anterior

Tip: The chest can be activated more during the movement by squeezing the pecs together as tightly as possible at the top of the movement.

What are the Benefits of the Dumbbell Floor Press?

There are many benefits to this movement.

Build Stronger and More Muscular Triceps

The exercise places a lot of stress on the triceps as they remain active throughout the full range of motion.

This is a great way to add muscle mass and enhance strength.

Enhance Lockout Strength

The Dumbbell Floor Press will help to improve your ability to lockout major compound exercises such as the Strict Press or the Bench Press.

This is incredibly useful once you get towards the upper spectrum of your lifting ability and can help to raise PRs as well.

Woman doing clean and jerk with barbell
Raise the bar ©Bastien Plu

It’s Safe

The movement can easily be done without a spotter and is a safe way to work the triceps and chest.

Unlike a traditional Barbell Bench Press there are no serious repercussions for failing reps and you can push yourself hard without worrying too much about reaching failure.

Suitable for Everyone

The exercise is useful for all different kinds of lifters. From beginners to seniors, experienced elite athletes through to total newbies.

Can be Done Anywhere

All you need for the exercise is a floor and a couple of dumbbells.

This makes it easy to incorporate into home and garage workouts as well as sessions in the gym.

Mix it up with the single arm version.

Multi-Joint Compound Exercise

Compound exercises involve many different muscle groups and joints. As well as the obvious strength and muscle gain benefits, this also has a few other advantages over isolation movements.

These include:

Less Stress on the Wrists and Elbows

If you struggle with wrist or elbow pain when you Bench Press, the Dumbbell F Press can help you build up the necessary strength and resilience.

Additionally, the latter is easier on the wrists and elbows, so they are a great option for someone that is recovering from an injury or doesn’t want to overload their body.

Woman doing burpees
Protect your body for other workouts ©Bastien Plu

Shoulder Friendly Pressing Exercise

The exercise is relatively shoulder friendly and will give you a great pump for the front (anterior) delts.

When you lift with the proper set up and technique then you will reduce the risk of shoulder injury and pain that some lifters find with the traditional Bench Press.

How to Do the Dumbbell Floor Press

Use the following instructions to perform the exercise correctly:

  • Sit on the floor with a dumbbell in either hand. Grip them against your chest
  • Slowly lay down whilst keeping the dumbbells locked into your chest
  • Bend the knees to a 45-degree angle and form a stable base with the soles of the feet flat against the floor
  • Lift the dumbbells off your chest and rest your elbows on the floor. Grip hard to balance the weight. This is the starting position
  • Inhale and brace the core, glutes and grip
  • Press the weights upwards to full extension (but don’t lock the elbows out)
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position
  • Exhale
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps

Training Tips

Maintain tension in the chest at all times. Squeeze the pecs at the top of the movement before you lower the weights again.

Tilt the dumbbells slightly as this will keep the elbows in a more neutral position.

Be slow and controlled during the descent. This will also maximise time under tension for hypertrophy, meaning more gains for you. Don’t let your elbows crash into the floor.

Don’t bounce the dumbbells together at the top of the range of motion.

Make sure you aren’t excessively arching the lower back. Shoulder blades and glutes must touch the floor at all times.

Training Tips for Different Body Parts

  • Shoulders – Keep the shoulder blades down and press them into the floor
  • Back – Try not to arch the back at all during the movement. You want to be as flush to the floor as possible
  • Legs – If you want to make the exercise harder you can straighten your legs out flat on the floor

How to Get Heavier Dumbbells into Position

One tricky aspect of this exercise is that it can be difficult to get the dumbbells into the right position at the start of the range of motion.

Here are two methods you can use.

Dumbbell Floor Press Setup Method 1

This video will give you a good overview for the first “Hip Bridge” setup method.

Explanation starts at 07:01.

Many athletes find this easier to use as it is common for the standard Dumbbell Bench Press as well.

Start with the weights standing up vertically and lie between them.

Once you are in position, move them on top of your thighs.

From there you can bridge them into position using the momentum from your thighs.

Dumbbell Floor Press Setup Method 2

This method is effective if you find the first too awkward.

Explanation starts at 05:30.

How Should You Add Dumbbell Floor Press into your Workout?

We have compiled a selection of ways you can add the exercise into your programming in order to achieve different goals.

To Build Muscle

If you want to build muscle mass for the triceps and chest, perform 3 – 5 sets of 8 – 12 reps.

Rest for 30 – 45 seconds between sets.

You should be right at failure by the last reps in each set.

To Build Strength

If you want stronger arms and a more powerful upper body then aim for 3 – 5 sets of 3 – 6 reps using heavy dumbbells.

Rest as required between sets. You should feel fresh going into every new set.

Man climbing after dumbbell floor press
Strong for life ©Omid Armin

In Combination with other Exercises

The Dumbbell F Press can be programmed well with other tricep exercises (such as Tricep Extensions or Pull Downs).

You can even superset them for an even more powerful pump.

To Break through Plateaus

We all hit sticking points in our training programs.

A great way to overcome these ceilings is to mix things up.

Partial Reps (as provided by the Dumbbell F Press) allow you to change up the training stimulus and improve in a new way.

Over time this will make you stronger in new ways and enable you to break through the plateaus.

Dumbbell Floor Press Variations

Switch things up with these variations.

  • Barbell Floor Press
  • Kettlebell Floor Press
  • Banded Dumbbell Floor Press
  • Dumbbell Floor Hammer Press
  • Single Arm DB F Press

Dumbbell Floor Press Alternatives

Add these alternatives into your training.

  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Hammer Bench Press
  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Board Bench Press

Who Should Perform the Dumbbell Floor Press?

The exercise is a great idea for a huge spectrum of athletes, including

  • Athletes recovering from injury
  • Older athletes that don’t want so much shoulder stress
  • Athletes that can’t get to the gym
  • Anyone that deals with elbow and wrist problems
  • Anyone that trains without a spotter


Still got questions? Scroll through to find the answers.

Can you Build Muscle with Floor Press?

Yes, you can build muscle with this exercise. It is a useful and effective way to build muscle mass for the triceps, chest and front delts.

Is the Dumbbell Floor Press Effective?

The movement is exceptionally effective for enhancing lockout and arm strength, building muscle mass for the triceps, shoulders and chest and for breaking through training plateaus.

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