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Floor Press vs. Pin Press vs. Board Press

Written on June 14, 2010 at 6:56 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: I would like to know what the main differences are between floor presses and pin presses in the power rack, obviously with the same range of movement. Usually, in talking about injury at the shoulders, the advice is to drop full range of motion in the bench press in favor of floor press; does the pin press in the power rack – starting around middle point – accomplish the same thing? In a strength program for a healthy individuals, do these two similar movements have same utility?

A: My experience with the pin press is that it is not as effective as a floor press or board press because the lifter isn’t in a good position to appropriately “set” the scapular stabilizers to lock the shoulder blades down and back.  As a result, the lifter tends to shrug up – which allows the shoulder blades to anteriorly tilt – which can exacerbate the shoulder impingement that may already be occurring.

Moreover, I believe that it is important to have a lifter lower the bar, as opposed to starting from a dead-stop.  This way, we not only teach eccentric control of the muscles acting at the shoulder girdle, but we also train the movement by learning the appropriate bar path.  Considering the number of individuals who take the bar too high on the chest and let the elbows flare out when benching, I think it’s important to use movements like board presses and floor presses in lieu of the pin press.  Otherwise, we won’t get rid of clowns like this.


That said, generally speaking, I prefer board presses first, followed by floor presses, and then (if at all) pin presses.  These, of course, come much later than push-up variations and (usually) dumbbell exercises.

For more information on the specific return-to-pressing progressions that we use with the athletes and clients we see with shoulder impingement, AC joint issues, and a host of other shoulder conditions, check out the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD Set.


3 Responses to “Floor Press vs. Pin Press vs. Board Press”

  1. Jim Lenkowski Says:


    Usually the pin press is suggested within the context of someone wantingto focus on “starting” strength. Given the fact that you’d prefer an eccentric to precede the concentric, would you be more in favor of an eccentric, followed by an extended pause, followed by the concentric phase instead of the pin press in instances where the lifter was intent on focusing on starting the bar with minimal to no momentum?

  2. Donnell Boucher Says:

    In a usual max effort rotation for us, I opt to use the floor press first…then go to the board pressing. Reasoning is simple: the weight usually goes up from floor to 3 board, and that most likely has to do with the fact that you can’t use your legs in the floor press. Although, we do still coach the hell out of our guys contracting their glutes during the lift. We’re typically at 90-92.5% of 1RM bench for the floor, and 102.5%-105% for the 3Board. That’s not earth shattering, but we’ve had more success in testing when the load has successively increases over the course of 3-4 week ME rotation.

    Speaking of a restricted athlete, however I’d say we’re right on with what Eric layed out…first simply reduce the ROM in the bench w/ boards and then as a new addition/variation we will move to the floor or change to a neutral bar/fatbar but while keeping the ROM reduced.

  3. Fred Says:

    What is the difference between floor press and board press? Also, if board press gets rid of your sticking point, how does it increase your regular bench press without boards since you would still have to deal with the sticking point?


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