The One Arm Press…one of my favorites

The one arm overhead press might be the best single overall upperbody lift for the adult male. It works the deltoids and triceps as well as all the supporting muscles for the entire body. Along with a squat or deadlift, you might have the perfect combination for basic simple training for most men.


My favorite workout scheme for one arm presses is also the method I use in my book, “Mass Made Simple.” I strongly believe that one arm presses allow you to handle a lot of volume, so I use two “ladder” schemes for almost any purpose (sports help, hypertrophy, fat loss, this is “one size fits all”):


The 2-3-5(-10) method.

I have discussed this scheme before, but very simply the first variation is to do this:

Two reps left arm

Two reps right arm

Three reps left arm

Three reps right arm

Five reps left arm

Five reps right arm

If light enough, to a set of ten left and right, too. This is not always possible. This workout (with the tens) is forty total reps. It won’t “feel” like forty as you moved back and forth between limbs and the reps changed. If you do this a number of times, well, this will be a lot of time under load. And, that is a good thing!


I suggest for most people to do the entire workout with one weight. Let the volume be the issue and not your technique under heavy loads. If you decide to go up, an interesting way to do this is simply:

2-3-5 (Both Sides)

Add Weight

2-3-5 (Both Sides)

Add Weight

2-3-5 (Both Sides)

I don’t suggest doing this much more than this, but occasionally it would be fun to push up another round. Oh, and skip the tens on this variation as we are trying to get the biggest bells we can in the last round of five.


For the older trainee, the one arm press works all the muscles that Janda explained weakened with age. In other words, if a 50 plus man asked me “that question,” “If you could only do one lift, what would it be?,” I would answer one arm presses. Yes, it even works the glute as you can’t have a saggy butt when pressing half bodyweight overhead with one arm.


Experiment with increasing the amount to one arm pressing that you do. There is no contest or Gold Medal for one arm pressing, but the rewards are great.


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