Larsen Press – A Bench Press Variation

Table Of Content

What Is A Larsen Press And Why Should You Use It?

The Larsen Press is a bench press variation that can help you build strength and power in your upper body. It also will help you grow your muscle mass by stimulating your upper body in a different way than the usual bench press exercise.

As a variation of the Feet Up Bench Press, the Larsen Press is performed with the feet off the floor and your legs in the air, or placed on a bench.

The Larsen Press is one of the most popular bench press variations used by athletes and bodybuilders today. It targets the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and triceps, and can be performed with either a barbell or dumbbells (and in other variations – see below).

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, during the golden era of bodybuilding, was training his chest frequently with his feet off the floor. He believed that this technique would increase muscle engagement.

Something, which has been confirmed by science since then.

In this article, you will learn how to perform the Larsen Press correctly and safely, while gathering all the information you will need.

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History Of The Larsen Press

Adrian Larsen, despite being born with dislocated hips and club feet, underwent multiple corrective surgeries in his young years and achieved to become a well-known bench press specialist in powerlifting.

Because of Adrian Larsen, the Larsen press is a well-known secret weapon for the bench press.

The Larsen Press is a great bench press variation and a great tool for athletes, bodybuilders as well as power lifters to improve form. You are not using the lower body to support the bench pressing.

Therefore, the exercise targets the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and triceps effectively, while promoting better control of the targeted muscles.

Bench pressing through Larsen presses also helps you to stimulate your upper body in a different way than the usual bench press exercise. The result, promoted power and muscle growth.

How To Do A Larsen Press Correctly

Larsen Press Set-Up

To perform a Larsen Press correctly, you will need to set up a flat bench with a weightlifting barbell or dumbbells. A complete bench press set-up.


Lie down on your back on the bench, and position the weightlifting barbell or dumbbells above your chest. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. For safety, perform this exercise using a full grip – not a thumbless grip.

Legs & Feet Off The Ground

Then, lift your feet off the ground and position your legs straight so that they are parallel to the floor. This is important for the Larsen pressing because you are not using your legs to help push the weights up.

You should feel the muscles in your chest and shoulders, as well as in your triceps, working during this exercise more intense than with a regular bench press.

During the Larsen presses, you can place your feet on another bench as well. If you are performing this exercise at a gym, you can use the weightlifting platform, or a big bench press.

A bigger bench will help to stabilize your body and keep your lower back from arching.

Un-Rack & Perform

Now, when you are ready, take a deep breath and unrack the barbell. Lower the bar to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.

Once the weight reaches your chest, pause for a moment and then press it back up to the starting position. The same goes for using dumbbells.


Focus on balance and control throughout the entire range of motion. And remember, you are not using your legs to help push the weights up.

So keep them parallel to the floor throughout the exercise and engage your upper body as well as you can.

Performing the Larsen Press with a barbell or dumbbells will help to develop the strength and size of the pectoral muscles. It is a great exercise for adding more stimuli to your workouts and for developing a powerful upper body on the bench press.

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Larsen Press Benefits

One of the main benefits of the Larsen Press is that it can help you to build muscle mass by engaging your upper body effectively and differently throughout the exercise.

The Larsen press is a great way to target your chest muscles, and it can also help to improve your overall strength by providing a variation to the bench press.

Additionally, the Larsen press can promote higher muscle activation in the chest, shoulder, and triceps muscles, which can lead to greater gains in strength and muscle mass, compared to a traditional bench press. Making it a secret weapon in any workout routine.

This exercise can also help to improve your shoulder stability and mobility, as well as your posture.

Lastly, the Larsen press is a great exercise for focus and balance, because you have no additional support from the legs.

On the other hand, the risk of injury is increased with this exercise, so it is important to use proper form and technique.

Overall, the Larsen press is a great exercise for athletes who are looking to build muscle mass and improve their strength. It is also a great exercise for those who want to focus on their upper body and improve their posture and shoulder stability.

Try incorporating the Larsen press into your workout routine and see the amazing benefits for yourself!

Larsen Press Muscles Worked

Here are short descriptions of the muscles worked during the Larsen Press:

Pectoralis Major

The chest muscles – in short: pecs, are the primary muscles worked during the Larsen press and different bench press variations.

Functions of the pecs are horizontal flexion, adduction, and medial rotation of the shoulder joint.

Anterior Deltoid

The front of the three deltoid muscles – your shoulder muscles. The anterior deltoid works alongside the pecs during flexion of the shoulder joints.

Tricep Brachii

The triceps functionally speaking extends the elbow. This muscle is located on the back of your arm and is included in most pressing exercises.


The muscles in your midsection are collectively called, the core. These muscles work to stabilize your spine.


Variations & Alternatives Of The Larsen Press

There are many variations and alternatives of the Larsen Press that can help you to engage your muscles in different ways:

Dumbbell Press

One variation mentioned before is to use dumbbells instead of a barbell. This variation allows you to move each dumbbell independently, which can help to improve your range of motion and increase the activation of the muscles.

Dumbbell Flyes

This exercise is similar to the Larsen Press, but instead of pressing the dumbbells overhead, you will fly them out to the side. This can be a great alternative for those who want to focus on their chest muscles.

You focus on your working muscles the same way as doing the Larsen press by lifting your legs and engaging your upper body – the same way Arnold Schwarzenegger did it.

Floor Press

This exercise is performed lying on the floor. It is similar to the Larsen Press if you keep your legs extended as explained previously. Of course, you can vary your foot placement here as well.

Another plus is the easiness on the joints which this exercise provides in comparison to the standard bench press.

Close Grip Larsen Press – Bench Press

The close grip Larsen Press – bench press is another alternative to the standard Larsen Press. This exercise is performed with a close grip on the barbell, which will target the inner chest, and triceps muscles more.

Try doing it the same way as the Larsen press – with your legs in the air and see how it feels.

This is a great exercise for those who want to focus on a different portion of the chest and lay more emphasis on the triceps. Or for those who want to add more variation to their bench press workout routine.

Bench Press With Bands

This is a great variation for those who want to focus on explosiveness and balance. This exercise is performed by attaching a resistance band to a barbell.

To set up this exercise, attach a resistance band to a barbell and then grip the barbell with an overhand grip.

Once you have a good grip on the barbell, press it overhead. As you press the barbell overhead, the resistance band will stretch and provide resistance.

This exercise is great for those who want to focus on their explosive power and balance. Try this variation of the Larsen press and see how it benefits your workout routine!

Tips For Better Performance

Just like any other exercise, it is important to use proper form and technique when performing the Larsen Press. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of this exercise:

  • Use a weight that is challenging but still allows you to maintain proper form.
  • Keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the entire exercise.
  • Slowly lower the weight down to your chest, pause, and then press it back up to the starting position.
  • Focus on using your chest muscles to press the weight up, rather than your arms.
  • Breathe evenly throughout the exercise and avoid holding your breath.

Give it a try and see how it benefits your workout routine – and don’t forget to stay properly hydrated throughout your workout routine!

5 Mistakes To Avoid

Some mistakes can be made when doing this bench press exercise that can lead to injuries. Here are some of the most common Larsen Press mistakes to avoid:

Not Using A Spotter

The Larsen Press is an exercise that can be done with a spotter. However, some people choose to do the bench press variation without a spotter. This can lead to injuries if the weight is too heavy or if the form is not good and the balance can not be maintained. So, be cautious, if you are just starting out!

Not Using Proper Form

Form is important when doing any type of exercise, but it is even more important when doing an exercise like the Larsen Press. This is because this exercise puts a lot of stress on the joints and muscles. If the form is not perfect, injuries can occur.

Especially, if you are using heavy weights on the bench press.

Not Warming Up Properly

It is important to warm up before any type of exercise, but it is especially important to warm up before doing the Larsen Press. This is because the exercise is a bit more intense and risky than some other bench press exercises. Warming up will help to avoid injuries.

Not Using The Proper Weight

Another mistake that can be made, is not using the proper weight. If the weight is too light, you could not get the full benefit of the exercise. If the weight is too heavy, you could injure yourself.

Not Breathing Properly

Proper breathing is important when doing any type of exercise. Inhale, when you let the weight controlled down. Exhale as you press the weight up.

This will help you to increase your performance and to get the most out of your training – basics are important.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can help to ensure that you get the most out of your Larsen Press workout and that you avoid any injuries.

How To Incorporate The Larsen Press Into Your Workout Routine

To incorporate the Larsen Press into your workout routine, start by adding it to your chest workout. This secret weapon is a great addition to any chest workout because it targets the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps effectively and provides increased engagement to the muscles.

If you are new to this exercise, start with a light weight and gradually add more weight the as you get stronger and able to use more force. Try doing 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps of this exercise. You can also add this exercise to your shoulder workout.

Here is an example of a chest and shoulder workout that includes the Larsen Press:

Chest Workout:

-Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

-Larsen Press (Bench Press, Dumbbells, or a variation from above): 3 sets of 8-12 reps

-Decline Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps


If your goal is hypertrophy, aim for 4 sets of 6-8 reps. You can adjust that to any exercise and bench press variation from above.


Here you want to aim for even lower repetitions, but more sets. You can do 6 sets of 3 reps with for instance the Larsen Press. Use the bench press variation for one to two weeks and then vary using the dumbbells for example.

Powerbuilding (Combination Of Hypertrophy & Strength):

Here your goal is in the middle of the hypertrophy and strength repetitions and sets. Aim for 5 sets of 5 reps.

Shoulder Workout:

  • Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Front Raise: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Arnold Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Larsen Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

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Bottom Line

The Larsen press is a great bench press variation that can be used to improve form, to increase strength and size in the pecs, as well as the shoulder and triceps muscles. This secret weapon can also help improve your shoulder stability and overall pressing power.

If you’re looking for a new way to challenge your chest and increase muscle engagement, keep your legs straight (or up in the air) & give the Larsen press a try!

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