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The One Arm Barbell Press – A Unique Exercise For Shoulder Mass

When you want to surprise your muscles and accelerate muscle growth, performing endless sets of bench presses just won’t cut it – achieving unconventional progress demands some unconventional exercises. As any dedicated lifter would confirm, even the best training routines can’t provide superior gains forever and once in a while, you will need to shake things up and present your muscles with a new challenge.

The one-arm barbell press: how and why?

The one-arm barbell press is performed by holding a barbell with one arm with your palms facing you or each other and pressing the bar up in one powerful movement. You can either perform this movement in a lying position on a bench or as a standing shoulder press, which will determine the optimal type of grip.

As you can guess, this is not a very popular exercise and you’ll rarely see it being performed in your local gym. This is because most lifters underestimate the benefits of unilateral training, and those who recognize its importance tend to utilize dumbbell exercises for this purpose. Yet, the lack of popularity of a certain exercise doesn’t always mean that that exercise is ineffective – more often than not, it just means that it’s not as flashy as some other exercises or a lot harder than them, so therefore it’s reserved for the minority of experienced lifters who have a deeper understanding of biomechanics and really know what they’re doing.

The benefits of unilateral lifts are virtually unmatched. Not only that they help you get stronger, improve your balance and polish up your technique, but they also stimulate huge mass gains. So before returning to your regular training, check out the major benefits of unilateral movements, particularly the one-arm barbell press:

What are the benefits?

In a nut shell, you’ll get stronger, improve your technique and have greater balance, coordination and functional strength in the future. Here’s why:

Superior Muscle Recruitment

You’re going to have to work hard on this lift just to keep the weight level and prevent it tipping. Shoulder pressing in such a way works the muscles harder and recruits more of the stabilizing muscles around the shoulder and upper back. More muscle recruitment means more strength and coordination in the long run.

Balance and Coordination

This will take your balance and coordination to the next level. Muscle coordination will improve your functional strength and improve your ability to exert force on demand. You can’t ‘cheat’ on this exercise and it forces you to concentrate hard and be strict with the movement, something we’re not used to when doing the standard military press.

Superior Deltoid Development

Most people shoulder press with a pronated grip; that is, with your palms facing away from you. Not only does this increase stress on the joints, but can cause impingement at the bottom of the lift. By shoulder pressing with a neutral grip; that is, palms facing towards each other, you can generally press more weight, while preventing rotator cuff injuries and can keep the muscles safe at the bottom of the lift. It also activates the front delts FURTHER than a traditional pronated press because of the way the hands are in front of the shoulder rather than at the side.

Core Stability

You’ll have to work hard to make sure your body stays straight and rigid during this movement. Your whole body will be statically resisting force. This style of awkward loading improves overall core stability and muscle coordination, which translates into better execution throughout all your training.