Exercises You Should Be Doing: 1-Arm Dumbbell Press.
More appropriately this post should be titled: Exercises You Should Be Doing: 1-Arm ANYTHING.
It’s a bit of a conundrum if you ask me, but why is it whenever you come across articles that discuss unilateral (one-limbed) training, more often than not it ONLY discusses the lower body?
I’ve been a culprit of it in the past:
Don’t get me wrong, I think 1-legged training is crucial, otherwise why would I go out of my way to write about it all the time? It’s an important component of any well-rounded strength training program, and something that, thankfully, in no small part to the likes of coaches like Mike Boyle, Ben Bruno, and Mike Robertson, a lot more trainees are starting to implement into their weekly repertoire.
Rarer, however, is the person who includes unilateral upper body training into the mix. At least that’s been my experience.
Using a completely unrelated analogy: It’s kinda like Ben Affleck vs. Matt Damon.
Ben, while respected in the movie industry and a lot of people know who he is, has always lived in the shadow of his best friend, Matt, who, as we all know is freakin Jason Bourne.
In much the same way, unilateral upper body training has always taken a back seat while the lower body has taken all the admiration and accolades.
Well, no longer my friend.
1-Arm Flat DB Bench Press
What Does It Do: This is just one example, of course; there are a million and one variations to choose from – 1-arm push presses, 1-arm DB rows, etc. But while it’s stating the obvious, the 1-arm DB bench press is an awesome way to train overall upper body strength, whether you’re looking to build steel plated pecs or triceps the size of Kansas.
In addition, utilizing more unilateral upper body exercises such as this is a great way to weed out any imbalances that may exist between the right or left side.
A little less ubiquitous is the notion that 1-armed (offset) exercises are a fantastic way to hammer the core as well, as you really have to fire the contralateral side so as not to fall off the bench.
Key Coaching Cues: Well for starters, I’m going to call myself out and say that I really wussed out on the weight selection in that demonstration. Really Tony? 40 lbs?
That notwithstanding, I like to coach a slight arch in the lower back and to use more of a semi-pronated/neutral grip whenever someone performs supine pressing exercises as it’s a little more shoulder friendly to do so.
Moreover, one of the key things to be aware of here is to try your best to keep the butt/pelvis flat on the bench the entire time. As I alluded to above, as you lower and press the weight on one side the offset loading is really going challenge your “core” to fire and to keep the body steady on the bench throughout the duration of the set.
Foot positioning is based off of personal preference. I like to tell people to dig their toes – or heels, whatever is more comfortable – into the floor and to make sure they’re placed more underneath the body rather than splayed out.
I’d say anywhere from 2-4 sets for 6-8 repetitions is par for the course.