The Dead Stop Dumbbell Floor Press

The Dead Stop Dumbbell Floor Press

The floor press is a great exercise. It can be used as a regression to a dumbbell bench press or used by seasoned gym goers as a main exercise.

It is one of our more common regressions because of the decreased shoulder range of motion that it requires. In a traditional bench press with a bar or dumbbells, the persons elbows can dip below the mid line of the body.

At Champion we always emphasize working the body through a full range of motion. But only if it is safe to do so. That being said, each athlete can have a different mobility at each joint respectively. If an athlete has problems reaching full range of motion, we may shorten his or her motion so that they can effectively perform the exercise within their individual parameters. We work to get strong in YOUR range of motion and then continue to progress with increasing your mobility. In the example of the dumbbell Bench Press, an athlete with shoulder problems may be instructed not to let the angle of his elbow go below 90 degrees, or we could regress them to the dumbbell Floor Press.

Once the standard dumbbell floor press is mastered, we often want to progress the exercise to something more challenging, however, if the person continues to have mobility restrictions we often want to remain on the floor. The “dead stop” dumbbell Floor Press is a progression to the dumbbell Floor Press. It can also be used to develop explosive strength in the upper body, as well as blast through sticking points in a traditional bench press.


How to Perform the Dead Stop Dumbbell Floor Press

Before discussing how to perform the exercise, here is a quick tip on how to set up the dumbbell Floor Press or Dead Stop version as the weight gets heavier. The heavier weight you use, the more awkward and difficult it becomes to bring the dumbbells to the starting position.

First, position your body in between two risers. You can use steps, plates, anything that will be about the height of you thigh when lying down.

dumbbell floor press

Now place and hold one dumbbell just above your knee cap. With that dumbbell in place, slide the other dumbbell onto your other knee, just above the knee cap.

floor press set up

With both dumbbell just above the knee, simultaneously bring your knees towards your chest and let your upper body fall backwards onto the ground. Your feet should be planted flat, elbows at a 45 degree angle on the ground with dumbbells in hand. You are now in your starting position.

dead start floor press

To perform the exercise, take a deep breathe in through your nose and try to fill your belly up with air. Squeeze your abs tight and begin pressing the dumbbells toward the ceiling. Upon lowering the dumbbells, let your arms and elbows come to a complete stop on the ground. This is the “dead stop” portion of the exercise. Make sure not to lose your tension while the weight is paused.  After your arms and weight come to a complete stop, forcefully press the dumbbells up as if the ceiling were collapsing on you.

The Dead Stop Dumbbell Floor Press

I would recommend performing 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions as your first exercise of the day while your strength and power are at your full potential.


Why the Dead Stop Dumbbell Floor Press is Effective

By coming to a complete stop with the weight, our body learns how to generate a high amount of force in a short period of time in order to press the weights back up.

We have also taken out your body’s stretch reflex. The stretch reflex occurs in the body when a muscle begins to stretch. Tiny sensory organs within the skeletal muscle called muscle spindles send a signal to the brain as a protective mechanism to contract that skeletal muscle. By coming to a complete stop on the floor, we eliminate that reflex from happening.

If we were to tap our arms on the floor and immediately press up, we would be using the stretch reflex to a small degree. The level of contraction in the muscle due to the stretch reflex is proportional to the amount of stretch in that particular skeletal muscle. With this variation, we have no help from the stretch reflex.


If you’re looking for help on your bench press, this could be a good exercise to cycle in to your program. Most athletes get stuck on a bench press a few inches from their chest whether you’re using a barbell or dumbbells. This is at the point where the stretch reflex wears off. You are able to get the first inch or two above your chest but now rely on pure strength to complete the lift.

A barbell can also be used in place of dumbbells in this example as well if you are looking for even more specificity. Give the dead stop dumbbell floor press a try soon to help develop upper body power and to blast through that sticking point on a bench press.


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