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Coach's Corner: Shoulders in the Floor Press

Without knowing anything about mobility, anatomy, or physiology, anyone could identify that shoulders shouched forwards is back and shoulders pulled back is good. Not only is shoulders back a stronger position, but also safer. Sometimes this gets tricky to identify when doing movements in CrossFit because there is so much going on, so many moving parts, and we are often changing our orientation in space.

While doing floor presses, we are lying on our back and this gives us a better view of what our shoulders might be doing in push-ups (the same movement, just flipped on our belly). Pay attention to the shoulder position of Shakes and Jacqueline in the video below.

Notice how Shakes's shoulders slowly roll forward on the descent, while Jackie's do a pretty good job of staying further back against the ground. As with most things we see in the gym, this can be broken down to both a movement and mobility issue.

Movement. The set-up of the lift gets more important as the weight increases. In the floor press, we need to have the same set-up as our push-up: butt and belly tight with external rotation in the shoulder. But because we have an added point of support (the floor), we need to actively pinch the shoulder blades back together bebefore we start to make sure they don't ram into the floor while the movement is being completed, causing the shoulder to roll forward.

Mobility. The more mobility we have, the more room for error we are granted. In Shakes's case, she is missing shoulder extension, which is coupled with internal rotation. If this is the main problem, it would be a long-term fix and something that needs daily mobility work, but it can definitely be improved.

The floor press is a weird lift, and is something we wouldn't see as much if we had more benches. But in a video call with the Martins from Brand X a few months ago, they actually told me they believe it's better to practice floor press for most athletes anyway, especially if they aren't competing in powerlifting. Either way, I'll be paying attention to what the shoulders are looking like whenever these happen to come up.

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Reader Comments (3)

Bench press is weird man. I've been mixing it in a little more lately just to be stronger in general and in hopes for carry over to over head pressing strength. But I was surprised on how awkward in form it has felt trying to get all the parts of it right: the bars movement path, hitting the right place on my chest, keeping my elbows in, external rotation of wrists. Its a simple movement but can be awkward if you don't do it much so I'm not surprised a few of you have troubles as well although I realize Shakes is a mobility thing. Another question I have though is why you might favor floor press over bench? A bigger ROM in bench might mean more total strength gains but maybe a floor press, which is only targeting the top half of the movement, is better for carry over to the locking out position for a jerk?

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Jack, if we had the equipment, I think we would do more benching instead of subbing floor press. I believe the Martins favored the floor press because the decreased ROM means it's a little safer on the shoulders, and they said when most people push things in real life, it happens with our hands further in front of us and not necessarily with our hands way back by our chest.

May 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris Sinagoga

First off, It's refreshing to see you two playing nice again.

Secondly, bench and floorpress are both super complicated imo. I always try to focus on keeping my shoulder blades down and back (trying to "tuck" them into my lats) and maintaining a stable bar path. I was always told "If you feel comfortable benching, that means you're doing it wrong" and I mostly agree with that.

Because there are so many moving parts I try to incorporate pressing volume through accessories (close grip, incline, dumbbell, tempo, etc.), and prioritize frequency in "competition bench" over hammering volume on any single day.

This is all anecdotal but its based on general themes i've picked up through reading, watching, and practicing different programs. In case anyone is looking to SPECIFICALLY train their bench I always recommend these two sources.

1. MDisbrow

2. GNuckols

May 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJacob

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