3 Awesome Dumbbell Floor Press Variations

Posted on by Ben Bruno

I tweaked my shoulder about four months ago, and while it’s gotten much better, most pressing exercises still really aggravate it.

Rather than try to push through the pain, I’m eliminating any exercises that exacerbate the pain and instead sticking to things I can do pain-free, which at this point is basically just dumbbell floor presses and pushups.

So needless to say, I’ve been doing a boatload of dumbbell floor presses over the past several months. I’ve stuck to regular dumbbell floor presses and single arm dumbbell floor presses for the most part, but I’ve also toyed around with a few variations that I’m really liking and thus want to share with you.

One thing I like about the single arm dumbbell floor press is that in addition to be a great exercise to work the pressing muscles, it’s also a great exercise for core stability. It doesn’t seem like a core exercise when you look at it, but try it and you’ll immediately see what I mean. Every one of my clients who tries it is amazed at how challenging it is from a stability standpoint.

To increase the stability demands further, I’ve been combining the dumbbell floor press with a single leg glute bridge iso hold, which decreases the base of support significantly and thus increases the stability demands on the hips and core.

You’d think that you’d feel these mostly in the glutes, but you’ll also feel it working your abs a lot too.

When you first try these exercises you’ll find them to be very challenging even with embarrassingly light weights, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to press some pretty heavy weights (albeit less than you’d be able to do with regular dumbbell presses), meaning you can still get a good training effect for the pressing muscles. So don’t think these are wimpy exercises by any means.

Here is the progression I’m using.

1. Dumbbell Floor Press with Single Leg Glute Bridge Iso Hold

This is just a regular dumbbell floor press with a single leg glute bridge iso hold. Perform 5-6 reps on one leg, then switch legs and perform 5-6 reps on the other leg.

2. One Arm Dumbbell Floor Press with Single Leg Glute Bridge Iso Hold (Same Arm/Leg)

Here you switch to a single arm dumbbell floor press where you hold the dumbbell on the same side as the leg performing the single leg glute bridge iso hold. This is a big jump from the previous version so be conservative with the weight selection at first.

3. One Arm Dumbbell Floor Press with Single Leg Glute Bridge Iso Hold (Opposite Arm/Leg)

This is similar to the above variation only you hold the weight on the opposite side of the leg performing the single leg glute bridge iso hold. These are much harder than they look, so work the progression before jumping straight into these.

With all three exercises above, make sure to press in a slow and controlled fashion, and make sure to keep the hips up throughout the entire set and keep the torso as steady as possible.

Give these variations a try and let me know what you think.

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  • Jeff

    Love it. As a dual labrum surgery guy, floor presses are my bible. Any tips for when the weight gets to heavy to get in a good starting position?

  • Dean

    Finally, something new to try..looks like a challenge for sure. Thanks Ben. Also, congrats on the blog, 4 years now you’ve been at it. I’m always checking out the the older posts. FULL of outstanding, useful into!! Get that shoulder healed! I’d say LOTS of pushups will do the trick.

  • Malcolm Eyman

    I think the last two videos need to be flip-flopped. Same arm/same leg is showing opposite arm/leg video, vice versa…