One of my favorite, “traditional” pushing exercises is the DB CHEST PRESS from the floor – a shoulder friendly with big strength gains exercise. I prefer pressing from the floor for a couple of simple reasons:
1) When performing DB Bench Press there’s the potential for uncontrolled and perhaps excessive shoulder joint extension. In other words the upper arms tend to drop too far below parallel thus placing unwanted stress on the anterior aspect of the shoulder joint. Whereas, during the DB Floor Press the floor provides a natural breaking mechanism, not allowing upper arms to break parallel. Although this reduces range of motion, your shoulders will be positioned in a healthier, safer zone.
2) As mentioned above the floor is a natural breaking mechanism that by design minimizes ROM, which eliminates the movement from entering the “sticking point” (below parallel). During the DB bench press the “below-parallel sticking point” is where the resistance can become greater than what the muscular strength can overcome. That being said, logic would then have us believe that by eliminating the “sticking point” during the DB Floor Press then one should be able to press more weight while increasing strength gains. However, even though the limited ROM keeps shoulders in a protected position it also creates less of a “stretch” (loading of muscular force) during the eccentric phase of the repetition thus minimizing the max potential of strength that can be applied against the resistance (concentric phase). All in all, make no mistake about it, while the reduced ROM during DB floor bench press will offer some protection to the shoulders it requires greater muscular strength thus creating big strength gains.
And finally as a SIDE NOTE:
My preference is to perform the DB FLOOR PRESS with the knees slightly bent or in some cases legs flat on the floor. Find a lower body position comfortable for you but one that enables good contact between the lower back and floor. In addition, decelerate the weight until your upper arms make smooth, controlled contact with the ground, pause for a 3-sec count and then press – and – DO NOT bounce the movement off the floor as this will cause you to easily break inertia relying less on muscular strength and more on momentum.
So when you progress in to your strength phase give this great alternative a try, and as always out train the game.