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 .