This Dumbbell Arm Exercise Has Made My Shoulders Look and Feel Stronger


Strength training exercises tend to use both sides of your body at the same time — you press a bar overhead with both hands, you deadlift with both feet on the floor. But Jade Jenny, head CrossFit coach and owner of Champlain Valley CrossFit, taught me the importance of working one side of my body at a time to prevent muscle imbalances and improve your overall strength.

I've always known my left side is weaker than my right, but doing this exercise makes is so clear, and now my shoulders feel much stronger. Including this single-arm exercise in my workouts has helped strengthen my upper body, making planks, push-ups, and handstands feel easier. I've also had a nagging shoulder injury on my left side, and it's been improving since I started doing this exercise.

How to Do a Single-Arm Overhead Shoulder Press

Choose a dumbbell weight that's challenging but also allows you to press the weight overhead without any strain. Good form means you're able to keep your torso upright and abs engaged while straightening your arm overhead. It's OK if the movement feels challenging, but it shouldn't hurt or make you lean to one side, which could lead to injury. As you get stronger, you can go for heavier weights. This move can also be performed with a kettlebell.

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand just above your shoulders with your palms facing in.
  • With control, straighten your right arm above you, then immediately bend your elbow, coming back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Complete the same number of reps on each side, aiming for three sets of 10 to 16 total reps (five to eight per side).