The One-Arm Dumbbell Press
by Brooks Kubik

Doug Hepburn, pressing a 160 pound dumbbell at Ed Yarick’s Gym (and certainly making it look easy.)

The one-arm dumbbell press was a favorite exercise of many great strongmen of the past, including two of the strongest ever: Doug Hepburn and Paul Anderson.
Some oldtimers were simply phenomenal at this lift.

To give you a famous example, Josef Grafl, the 286 pound strongman from Vienna, Austria, did 20 reps with his right hand and 17 reps with his left hand in the one dumbbell press with a 111 pound dumbbell — with his heels together!

This was in a contest back in 1913 and strength historian David Willoughby rated this particular performance as equal to a heels together 175 pound press with the right hand and a 166 pound press with the left hand.

Can you imagine the total body power it would take to handle that sort of weight in the one hand dumbbell press with the heels together?

Training for the one-arm dumbbell press not only hits the shoulders, triceps and upper-back, but also provides a very high level of work for the muscles of the sides, mid- section and lower back, especially if you do the exercise the hard way — standing, with the heels together.

Give it a try and see for yourself.  Sets and reps are up to you, but you might try four or five progressively heavier sets of five to eight reps for each arm.

Yours in strength,

Brooks D. Kubik