This is the only guide you need to know all about One Arm Shoulder Press. You will find about correct form, benefits, pro-tips and common mistakes in performing One Arm Shoulder Press.

Do you want massive shoulder gains? Then One Arm Shoulder Press is definitely for you. It is a compound exercise as it works on various parts of your upper body at once. It is more challenging than the standard shoulder press. So if you are past the beginner stage and want something more challenging, One Arm Shoulder Press is definitely the best choice.

One Arm Shoulder Press: Target Muscles


Shoulders are the primary muscles which get trained in this exercise. The pressing motion puts a good stress on your deltoids which helps in the activation of muscles there.


This exercise is beneficial to training your traps too. Trapezius are a group of muscles located at your upper back. The primary function of  traps is to support the weight of your arm. So when you hold a dumbbell and press it up, your traps get activated.

If you wish to get great traps and other back muscles, read Dumbbell Workout for Back.


Triceps just like Traps are secondary muscles which get trained along with the shoulder. This muscle group is located at the back of your arm. When you press the weight up, your elbow joint gets extended. This motion is assisted by the triceps. So triceps will get trained along with the shoulders.

Want to train your triceps effectively? See Triceps Workout at Gym.

One Arm Shoulder Press
One Arm Shoulder Press, Photo by Pikx By Panther

One Arm Shoulder Press: Benefits

Increase in Strength

Since you are pressing only one dumbbell, your lower body can support a higher weight. No doubt, lifting heavier weights will mean more muscle gains.

More Range of Motion

It is a well known fact that dumbbells allow wider range of motion. When you perform press with a barbell, the range of motion is reduced. You cannot bring the barbell as down as you can with a dumbbell. Wider range of motion equals more activation of your muscles.

Core is Engaged

This is an asymmetrical exercise. So only one side of your body is under stress. In that case, the additional stabilization will come from your core. Therefore, core muscles will be engaged throughout the exercise.


As I explained earlier, it is a compound exercise. Your multiple parts like shoulders, traps and triceps will get trained at once which means more gains!


Sometimes you may feel that one side of your shoulder has developed more than the other one. In that case, this exercise suits you best as you are able train a single shoulder.


When you perform shoulder press using barbells, your both hands are involved in balancing the weight. Additionally you get support from other muscles due to symmetry of your body. However, when you use a single arm to perform the press, only one side of your body is under tension. This will increase the stability of your arm.

One Arm Shoulder Press
One Arm Shoulder Press: Initial Position
One Arm Shoulder Press
One Arm Shoulder Press: Final Position

How to Perform One Arm Shoulder Press

  1. Stand tall with your back straight and core tight. Keep your feet at a shoulder width distance.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Keep your left hand on the waist for additional support.
  3. Initially, hold the dumbbell such that your elbow points downwards. Dumbbell should be at your shoulder level.
  4. Breathe our and slowly press the dumbbell up.
  5. While breathing in, return to the initial position.
  6. Repeat this motion to complete the set
  7. Perform the exercise in similar fashion using your left arm.

One Arm Shoulder Press: Pro-Tips and Common Mistakes

  • Do not arch your back. If you are not able to workout without compromising your form, you should lower the weight you are lifting.
  • Remember to stand straight. Do not move your torso to either side while lifting the weight. Your arm and body should be as straight as possible.
  • Engage your core and glutes. This will help in stabilizing the weight when you lift it upwards. You can engage them by squeezing them.
  • Remember not to fully extend your elbow when weight is at the top position. Keep a slight bent in your elbow joint.
  • Do not let the momentum control your motion. Do not rush when bringing weight down to the initial position. Make this motion slow and controlled. This negative resistance will help you in gaining massive gains.
  • The path of your arm should be straight. You can ensure that by keeping your arm close to your ear.
  • One mistake which even experienced lifters make is doing ego lifting. Avoid ego lifting at all costs.

Make it Challenging !

There are multiple variations which you can perform if you wish to make it more challenging. Some of the variations you can try are as follows-

Seated One Arm Shoulder Press

Performing the press while standing up will give you additional support from your other muscle groups. You can completely eliminate it by getting seating. In this way, you can force your shoulder muscles to press even harder. Simply speaking, you will get additional shoulder gains.

Kneeling One Arm Shoulder Press

If you wish to get your core more involved in this exercise this form will be best for you. Get into a kneeling position. Keep your back straight and hold a dumbbell in one hand. Perform the exercise similar to what has been described above.

One Arm Shoulder Press: Alternative Exercises

There are a plethora of exercises which you can perform to train your deltoids. Following is a list of alternative exercises which you can do to get shoulder gains.

Overhead Dumbbell Press

Perform the same exercise using both arms at the time. Hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand, and press them up. Repeat the motion to complete the set. This exercise is better for you if you are a beginner in comparison to one arm shoulder press.

Standing Overhead Barbell Press

Done with the dumbbell? If so, you can move on to the barbell. Hold the barbell using both hands at shoulder width apart. Exhale and press the barbell up. While breathing in, return to the initial position. Perform it 10-12 times to complete one set.