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Neutral Grip Floor Press

How to Do the Neutral Grip Floor Press | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS]

Proper Form, Common Mistakes and Variations | Home Strength Training

VIDEO TUTORIALS HEREWRITTEN TUTORIAL + IMAGES BELOW

Floor Press
Intro: Neutral Grip Floor Press (2 min) (3 min)
Play Intro
Floor Press
Why: Why do the Neutral Grip Floor Press (9 min) (10 min)
Play Why
Floor Press
How: How to do the Neutral Grip Floor Press (6 min) (7 min)
Play How
Floor Press
QUICK DEMO: (Fast Version)How To Do the Neutral Grip Floor Press (1 min) (2 min)
Play QUICK DEMO
Floor Press
MISTAKES: What not to do- Neutral Grip Floor Press (7 min) (8 min)
Play MISTAKES
Floor Press
Variations: Change Up the Neutral Grip Floor Press (5 min) (6 min)
Play Variations

MUSCLES

MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN the Neutral Grip Floor Press

Pectoralis Major & Triceps

OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
  • Anterior deltoid (front of shoulder muscle)
  • Coracobrachialis (small muscle near biceps)
  • Biceps
  • Anconeus (small muscle at back of elbow)

WHAT & WHY

BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE Pectoralis Major And Triceps

WHAT

WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY

ALL WE'RE DOING:

Lay on the ground and press your arms up, that's it!

THE FLOOR PRESS WORKS MULTIPLE MUSCLES & JOINTS AT ONCE

The floor press exercise works the pectoralis major (the largest chest muscle) and your triceps muscles.

This exercise is a compound movement - meaning that it works more than one joint (shoulder & elbows joints) and multiple muscle groups. In the floor press, the upper arm moves in towards the middle of the chest and the elbow will straighten. Compound movements are time efficient and more functional. Functional exercises involve movements that we use in our daily lives, movements that require coordinating the movement of many muscles and more than one joint at a time. 

The floor press is done lying face up with the knees bent. This stable position makes it easy to use heavier weights for training the large chest muscle. In this position the focus is on the muscles of the arms, the muscles of the core and legs are relatively still and don’t help very much. The upper arm movement is limited by the floor, this makes the exercise safer for the shoulder joints.

Other exercises that work the pectoralis muscles may involve letting the arm move back behind the torso, this can strain the soft tissues on the front of the joint, especially when heavier resistance is used. In the floor press, the upper arm rests on the floor between each rep. This takes out any momentum that may be used to help the muscles as the next rep begins, which basically means this is a built-in way to make sure we don't subconciously cheat the move - our muscles will HAVE to do the work.

The pectoralis major muscle is a large fan-shaped muscle on the chest. It attaches to the collarbone, sternum (breast bone), the cartilage of the first 6 ribs, and the upper arm. The angle of the arms can be easily adjusted during the floor press to target different portions of the pectoralis major.

WHY

WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?

TRAINS OUR CHEST & TRICEPS TO DO THEIR MAIN JOBS IN LIFE

The floor press is a very functional exercise. The exercise trains the pectoralis major and triceps to do two of their main jobs - moving the arms and stabilizing the joints.

The Floor Press uses the pectoralis major as a prime mover to pull the arm in towards the body, and as a stabilizer of the shoulder joint and shoulder blade (held in depression) as the weight is pressed up, and it uses the triceps as a prime mover to extend the arm (straighten the elbow) and as a stabilizer for the elbow joint. 

STRENGTHENS ABILITY TO KEEP SHOULDER STABLE WHILE DOING STUFF WITH HANDS

The primary functions of the pectoralis major are to move the arm and to stabilize the shoulder. The shoulder is the least stable joint in the whole body, and your hand depends on it to hold the arm still when you use your hand. Imagine trying to write if your shoulder was moving. The other problem with the poor stability of the shoulder joint is that it can lead to more wear and tear on the joint surfaces. 

BALANCES OUT BICEP STRENGTH FOR BETTER MUSCLE COORDINATION

The triceps lies along the backside of the upper arm and balance out the biceps brachii muscle which lies along the front of the arm. Even though these two muscles move the elbow in opposite ways, the biceps bends the elbow and the triceps straighten the elbow, they coordinate their activity to control the movement and stabilization of the elbow joint.

If one muscle is a lot stronger than the other muscle, it can interfere with the position and movement of the joint, and can possibly cause damage or an injury to the muscle or the joint. Many people put more time and energy into exercising their biceps than they do their triceps.

It is important to work the muscles that do opposite movements equally in order to prevent imbalances that may lead to injury. In order to keep the joints and muscles of the arms healthy, it is important to include exercises for both the biceps and the triceps in your exercise program.

EVERYDAY LIFE &

MUSCLE FUNCTION

HOW WE USE OUR SIDE CHEST & TRICEPS IN EVERYDAY LIFE

PECTORALIS MAJOR - CHEST MUSCLE

1. BRINGING YOUR ARM ACROSS YOUR BODY, TOWARDS THE MIDLINE (HORIZONTAL ADDUCTION)

  • Reaching across to fasten a seat belt
  • Putting a belt into pants (reaching across to the opposite side in front of the body)
  • Lifting objects in front of the body
  • Carrying heavy objects in front: grocery bag, child
  • Picking up your pet chicken 😃

2. BRING YOUR ARM UP AND ACROSS (upper fibers of the pectoralis)

  • Touching the opposite ear - putting on an earring
  • Using blow dryer on opposite side of the head as hand
  • LOWER FIBERS BRING THE ARM DOWN AND ACROSS
  • Reaching the opposite hip

3. MEDIAL (INTERNAL) ROTATION OF THE ARM (ROTATING THE UPPER ARM INWARDS)

  • Rotating arm down to empty a can

4. CAN ASSIST IN DEPRESSION (MOVE DOWN THE SPINE), DOWNWARD ROTATION, AND PROTRACTION (MOVING FORWARD AROUND THE RIBCAGE, AND STABILIZATION OF THE SHOULDER BLADE AND STABILIZATION OF THE SHOULDER JOINT

  • Control during all arm and hand activities that require strength and/or precision - writing, knitting, using a screwdriver

TRICEPS

1. THE TRICEPS MUSCLE’S PRIMARY FUNCTION IS TO STRAIGHTEN THE ELBOW (ALL THREE HEADS)

  • Washing windows - straightening the elbow 

2. THE LONG HEAD ACTS TO PULL THE ARM DOWN FROM A FLEXED (THE ARM IS REACHING OVERHEAD OR OUT IN FRONT OF THE BODY), AND MOVES IT BEHIND THE BODY (THIS ACTION IS NOT USED IN THE FLOOR PRESS EXERCISE)

  • Pulling a cord down to open the curtains
  • Pulling yourself up when climbing a ladder

3. ALL THREE HEADS HELP TO STABILIZE THE ELBOW JOINT

  • Control during all hand activities that require strength and/or precision - writing, knitting, using a screwdriver.

4. THE LONG HEAD HELPS TO STABILIZE THE SHOULDER JOINT

  • Control during all hand activities that require strength and/or precision - writing, knitting, using a screwdriver

The pectoralis and triceps work together for shoulder adduction, internal rotation, elbow extension, and stabilization of the shoulder blade, shoulder joint and elbow joint in activities like pushing a stroller or lawnmower, pushing a door open.

LOOKS

HOW THE FLOOR PRESS SHAPES OUR BODY

Defined chest and upper arm (back of arm). 

Starting Pointers

The neutral or hammer grip (palms facing in) is a safer position for the shoulder joint.

The upper arm is slightly rotated so there is less chance of irritating the soft tissues that cross between the top of the upper arm bone and the shoulder blade (shoulder impingement). This is a smart choice if the pronated grip causes shoulder pain or for those with a history of shoulder issues. The upper arms are brought down a little bit closer to your sides, this position is less stressful and can be more comfortable for the shoulder joints.

When the arms are pressed up, the upper arm moves up (flexion) at an angle, this is just a little bit different than the pronated grip where the upper arm is further away from the sides of the body and comes in towards the midline of the body (horizontal adduction). Because of this slight change in position, the neutral/hammer grip may work the biceps and anterior deltoid a bit more. 

How to Feel What Muscle is Working

Pectoralis Major: Place your right hand over your left chest. Straighten your left arm and pull it in across your body. You should feel your pectoralis major muscle under your hand. Try pulling the arm across and up - you should feel the muscle activation close to your collarbone. Pull across and down and you should feel the lower part of the muscle contract.

Triceps: Place one hand on the underside of the opposite upper arm. Bend your elbow. Place your hand on the edge of a table or on the wall. Press into the surface as if you were trying to straighten your elbow. You will feel the triceps muscle activate.

PROPER FORM

PROPER FORM: Neutral Grip Floor Press

EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS

EQUIPMENT

SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:

8-12 lbs

SETS & REPS:

2 sets of 8-10 must fatigue the muscle

PACE:

Moderate pace up and slower down

BODY POSITION

BODY POSITION FOR THE Neutral Grip Floor Press

There are three options for getting into the position: face-up on the floor holding the dumbbells. When the weights are heavier, option #3 may be the safest choice:

  1. Sit on the floor with one dumbbell placed on each side of your hips. Pick the dumbbells up and place them at the front of your hip creases. Roll back to lie on the floor. Bring the weights up to mid-chest level.
  2. Sit on the floor with one dumbbell placed beside each hip. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Roll down so you are lying face up, reach out to each side and lift the weight up to the hip creases, then bring the weights up to mid-chest level.
  3. Place two dumbbells together on the floor. Lie down so you are on your side facing the dumbbells. Pull the dumbbells close to your chest. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, hug the weights into the chest and roll onto your back. 

BODY STANCE: Lie faceup on the floor. Knees bent. Stabilize your upper body by pulling your shoulder blades inward and down your back. This provides a good stable base to work off of. This movement should not feel gripping or tight, just stable. This becomes more important as the weight you are using increases, the intent is to have the weight on the shoulder blades as opposed to the more flexible - and smaller bones of the rib cage. Your shoulders should be pressed back in contact with the floor - the chest open.

Neutral spine - you should be able to slide a hand between your low back and the floor.

FEET: Feet flat on floor. 

HAND/GRIP: Neutral/Hammer grip (palms facing in, towards each other). 

ARM: Your upper arms should be about 45 - 55 degrees from your sides. The elbows bent with the weights at mid chest.

NECK: Neutral and relaxed throughout the exercise.

HOW TO DO

HOW TO DO Neutral Grip Floor Presses

CUE: The arms should be very controlled, not wavering.

Lift the weights off of your chest by moving your hands out so that they are almost over your elbows. 

Your hand shoulds be in line with the upper arm as you press up- not in front of your elbow or behind your elbow.

Keeping the back of your shoulders in contact with the floor, press the dumbbells straight towards the ceiling. 

Your upper arm moves inward so that it ends up in line with the front of your shoulder or in a bit further so your hand is lined up with the middle of your collar bone. 

As the arm moves in, your elbows straighten. 

Your hands will be about 4-6 inches apart at the top of the movement.

Squeeze your pecs at the end of the movement. 

Slowly return to the starting position by bending your elbows and moving your arms back out to the side. 

Repeat to complete the reps.

HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE

Care must be taken when setting the weight down, this is more crucial the heavier the weight.

Bend your elbow and rest the weights on the chest, move them down to the crease of your hip and off to the side to the floor.

Or keep the weight on your chest and roll to your side and set the weight on the floor.

how-to-do-neutral-grip-floor-press-chest-exercise-at-home-women-40-plus
how-to-do-neutral-grip-hammer-dumbbell-floor-presses-chest-exercise-at-home-women-40-above

COMMON MISTAKES

WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Neutral Grip Floor Press

KEY TIP:

Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.

1. Avoid sitting up with the weights on your chest

AVOID: Avoid sitting straight up with the weights on your chest at the end of the sets.

WHY NOT?

  • This can result in straining or injuring the low back.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Move the weights down to the hip creases and then lower to the floor, or hug the weights into your chest and roll on to your side to set the weights down.
avoid-weight-on-chest-when-sitting-up-db-floor-press-chest-exercise-proper-form

2. Avoid improper Spine Position

AVOID: Avoid arching or flattening your back

WHY NOT?

  • This can cause low back joint injury, muscle strain or damage over time.

WHAT TO DO: 

  • Maintain a neutral spine position.
  • If your ribs lower ribs flare upwards or your belly is lifted up - this indicates you are arching your low back. Your pubic bone and front hip bones should be in one plane - can check by placing finger tips on pubic bone and set base of palm on hip bones - your hand should be flat.
  • To prevent arching - avoid taking the arms up too far overhead: move arms down
  • You should not be able to feel your low back pressed on to the floor, you should be able to slip your hand between the floor and your low back.
    Try:

    • Lower your tailbone to the floor and lengthen the front of your torso, activate the core muscles gently to hold this position.
    • Press the back of your shoulders into the floor.
      Relax the muscles of the lower body (especially the gluteus maximus) concentrate on the core and upper body.
avoid-improper-spine-hammer-neutral-grip-floor-press-proper-form

3. Avoid pushing Feet Into Floor

AVOID: Avoid pushing down into the floor with the feet.

WHY NOT?

  • This is an attempt to use your legs to stabilize the body, you want to try to limit the muscle activity to the arms. 

WHAT TO DO:

  • If you feel you are pressing into your feet when you press the weight up
    • Activate your core muscles, anchor your shoulder blades into the floor
    • Lift your legs up to the table top (hips and knees at 90 degrees, feet off of floor) position

4. Avoid hunching shoulders

AVOID: Avoid hunching the shoulders up towards the ears. Decreased space between the shoulders and earlobes.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Pull the shoulders down to keep the space between the ear and the shoulder during the entire rep - this opens up the shoulder to avoid tendon irritation and decreases the activity of the upper traps.
avoid-shoulders-hunching-up-to-ears-neutral-grip-floor-presses-proper-form

5. Avoid rounding of shoulders

AVOID: Avoid lifting your shoulders off of the floor

WHY NOT?

  • Rounding the shoulders (shoulder blade protraction, upper arm internal rotation, humerus- upper arm bone, glides forward) closes down on the space in the shoulder joints and can result in irritation of the tendons. 

WHAT TO DO:

  • You should be able to feel the back of the shoulders should be firmly planted on the floor. 
  • Potential causes
    • Chest muscles are too tight - unable to get shoulders to the floor: stretch pec muscles and try again. If you cannot maintain the correct position, switch to a chest press position and add pec stretches and exercises for scapular retraction to your program. 
avoid-rounding-shoulders-neutral-grip-floor-chest-press-exercise-common-mistakes

6. Avoid arm wobbling

AVOID: Avoid letting your arm wobble during the movement.

WHY NOT?

  • This is a sign of poor stability of either: the shoulder blade, the shoulder joint, the elbow joint, or the wrist. It is important to be able to control the movement in order to avoid straining/irritating the ligaments, tendons, and joint surfaces.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Gripping the arm muscles in an attempt to stabilize the shoulders: activate your abdominal and scapular stabilizers to provide a stable base. The muscles of the arm will be working but they should not be tight and gripping.

7. Avoid locking elbows

AVOID: Avoid locking the elbows when the arms are out straight.

WHY NOT?

  • This puts too much force through the joint and may result in long term damage over time.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Keep the elbows slightly bent, even at the end of the movement.
avoid-locking-elbows-neutral-grip-floor-press-chest-exercise-common-mistake

VARIATIONS

VARIATIONS OF the Neutral Grip Floor Press

Single-Arm Eccentric

Single Arm Assisted Concentric Slow Eccentric

Hold the dumbbell in the hand of the working arm.

Use the "non-working" arm to help the working arm press the weight up.

At the top of the movement,  release the working arm and use it to slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position.

This variation allows you to overload (using more weight than you are able to push) the muscles and train them eccentrically.  This is a good way to strengthen the muscles and to protect them from injury.

single-arm-eccentric-dumbbell-neutral-grip-floor-presses-variation

ALTERNATING ARMS

Alternating Arms Neutral Grip Floor Press

Complete the press with one arm and then the other arm.

Options:

  1. The “non-working arm” can rest down in the starting position; or
  2. The “non-working” arm is held at the end position (arm straight up) to work the muscles to hold the arm and shoulder still.
alternating-arms-neutral-grip-floor-chest-press-variation

IsoMETRIC Hold

Iso Hold Neutral Grip Floor Press

Hold at the top of the movement when your arms are straight above you in the air for 3-5 seconds, then hold again midway as you are lowering, when the arms are bent half way down, for an additional 3-5 seconds.

isometric-hold-neutral-grip-dumbbell-floor-presses-variation

Partial Range Pulses

Partial Range Pulses Neutral Grip Floor Press

Push all the way up, lower to half way down, do 5 pulses from mid-range to top. Lower down for next rep.

Quick press up and slow lowering down - increases the speed of the concentric contraction (increased power) and slows down the eccentric phase. 

partial-range-pulses-neutral-grip-floor-press-chest-exercise-variation

SCIENCY STUFF

SPIFFILICIOUS FACTS ABOUT MUSCLES & MOVES

The main functions of the pectoralis muscle are to move and stabilize the upper arm. The pectoralis major muscle helps to move the arm into horizontal adduction (bringing the arm towards the midline of the body). The upper fibers of the pectoralis major help to lift the arms up and the lower fibers of the muscle help to pull the arms down. The pectoralis muscle also helps to stabilize the shoulder joint and contributes to scapular (shoulder blade) depression and stabilization. 

The triceps muscle is made up of three portions, the lateral, medial, and long heads. All three heads of the triceps cross the elbow joint. The long head of the triceps also crosses the shoulder joint. This muscle makes up 2/3rds of the muscle bulk of the upper arm. The triceps lies along the backside of the upper arm and balance out the biceps brachii muscle which lies along the front of the arm.

ALLLL MUSCLES & WHEN

ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING THE Neutral Grip Floor Press

The scapular retractors and depressors become active during setup for the exercise. The muscles of the trunk and the arms (upper and forearm) work to stabilize the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints. The pectoralis major is the prime mover, acting with the biceps brachii, coracobrachialis, and anterior deltoid concentrically to pull the upper arm inward towards midline. The triceps work to straighten the elbow as the hand pushes upwards towards the ceiling. 

The triceps, pectoralis major work eccentrically to control the return to the starting position.

PIN IT FOR LATER!

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