This week’s installment of the Exercise of the Week features the 1-dumbbell Push Press
What is it?
The push press is an upper body explosive exercise. It helps build upper body power by moving a heavy weight as fast as possible.
This variation is obviously different: you’re using one dumbbell instead of a barbell.
What’s the advantage?
Generally a push press is done using a barbell. However, not everyone has access to a barbell, and moreover, not everyone has shoulders that are friendly for overhead barbell use.
I like this variation a little better than a barbell push press because it’s more shoulder friendly. Additionally, being offset with only one dumbbell challenges your core stability.
Why do you want upper body power?
Without going to much in depth with muscle physiology, power exercises teach muscles to contract faster and more forcefully. It requires the recruitment of Type IIx muscle fibers, those that are responsible for the fastest and strongest muscle contractions.
Therefore, power exercises like the 1-DB Push Press help build strength and power in your upper body, which will help translate to other activities like bench presses and push-ups.
1) Grab a heavy dumbbell. This is important because the push press is a POWER exercise. Power is defined as the rate at which work is done. Therefore, a heavier weight requires more work to move it, and the faster you move it the more power you generate.
2) Let your body “dip and drive.” In the video, you’ll see that I let me hips and knees bend slightly so I can generate some power from my lower body to transfer into the dumbbell.
3) Drive force into the dumbbell overhead until you lock it out, stabilize, and return to the starting position slowly.
How to Program it:
Power exercises are taxing on your central nervous system, so doing too many reps and too many sets can be detrimental to your overall performance in the gym, so it’s important to moderate volume and intensity.
It’s also important to note that while Type IIx muscle fibers are the strongest and fastest fibers we have, they fatigue quickly, and their ability to contract with equal force and speed diminishes early.
Your typical 3×10 approach is not appropriate here.
Instead, keep reps to a maximum of 5, and build volume through multiple sets, like this: 4×5, 6×3, or even 8×2.
Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes!!