Hello, again. I’m back, not that anyone knew I was gone. Don’t worry, I’ll get over my feelings of resentment for not being recognized (by you) for my brilliance eventually. In the meantime, I have some
wonderful content to share with you that I think you might enjoy and benefit from.
In the first four parts of this series which I wrote a few months ago, I discussed three different exercises I liked: inverted rows on the TRX, weighted pushups using the TRX, triceps extensions on the TRX, and Christian Thibaudeau’s three-degree decline dumbbell bench press. For better or worse, I still like all those exercises, which could mean that I’m stubborn and closed-minded, or that my original ideas weren’t that bad, or something else–you can decide for yourself. In the coming posts of this series, I plan to share the exercises that I consider to be “awesome” and explain why I think they are awesome. Without further delay, here’s exercise #5: the 1-arm dumbbell push press.
A quick, but important note about my technique for this exercise: at the bottom position of the movement, I hold the dumbbell in a neutral, or even somewhat supinated, position and pronate gradually as I push the dumbbell overhead. I’m using the same corkscrew motion that I use with the TRX exercises.
Another quick note: you can also use a kettlebell for this exercise, but I think dumbbells are more practical because dumbbells generally differ in five pound increments, whereas kettlebells are simply less convenient with regards to adjusting the weight.
I like this exercise because it allows me to use the aforementioned corkscrew motion, which means that I’m respecting the natural desires of my joints and muscles. (I think that phrasing sounds weird, but, for whatever reasons, I’m keeping it.) In the same way that you naturally rotate your shoulder as a you throw a punch, I think that you should naturally rotate your shoulder as you lift a weight. I’ve probably expounded upon this point in other posts, so I won’t waste your time doing it again.
An implication of my preference for the corkscrew motion is that I prefer the dumbbell push press to the barbell push press. I’m not a shoulder expert and know that I could be wrong, but I have some confidence that the 1-arm dumbbell push press is safer for your joints than a barbell push press. From a longevity standpoint, the 1-arm dumbbell push press wins. Perhaps the barbell is better exercise for maximal strength and hypertrophy, but injury prevention and longevity are two of my chief concerns with regards to exercise selection. Moreover, I think the 1-arm dumbbell push press is comparable to the barbell push press with regards to hypertrophy and strength, but that’s just my humble opinion.
In my own training, I’ve found that my joints often hurt when I include the barbell push press, which is probably a reflection of both my mobility issues and the exercise itself. Conversely, I’ve never had any pain when performing the 1-arm dumbbell push press. Of course, many people can probably push press without pain and I don’t think that they should never push press again. That being said, I will tentatively state that I think the barbell push press is an inferior movement to the 1-arm dumbbell push press. Feel free to shoot the messenger.
1. Start by holding the dumbbell in the rack position with a neutral or semi-supinated grip–whatever angle feels comfortable for you.
2. Dip and drive. The movement is initiated with the legs, as you transfer force from the lower body to the upper body. This is meant as primarily a shoulder exercise (I suppose it’s a whole-body exercise, but I digress), so a rule of thumb is to use as little leg drive as you need.
3. Punch the ceiling. I hope that doesn’t need an explanation because I’m not giving one.
4. Return the weight to the rack position under control. You can pause briefly in the rack position between reps or perform them in a fluid manner. I do it both ways, often performing the first few reps of a set fluidly and briefly pausing between the last few reps of a set in order to ensure good form.
I don’t use any special programming for this exercise, which is to say that three sets of six to twelve reps is fine. I take as much rest as I need between sets to ensure that I’m fully recovered for each set, although you can alter the rest period protocol to fit your goals.
Below is a quick video demonstration of the exercise. The dude in the video talks about “double-dipping” (if I were Peter, I’d probably make a corny joke about Tostitos, but, for better or worse, I won’t)–I don’t think it matters much. What he does demonstrate well–and what many other videos I looked at fail to demonstrate–is the corkscrew motion of the press.
I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have, although I may preempt and disappoint some of you by saying that I am not aware of any plans to take down this blog and/or to stop spamming you on facebook.