The half-bench single-arm press is a valuable addition to your training routine that can help to strengthen your chest, but are you sure you’re even doing the exercise correctly?
For this movement, you shouldn’t settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it’s such a killer exercise that can serve as a simple addition to your training plan. Let Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the move’s subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.
Before you take to the bench and slide yourself into place, take note that it’s extremely important to pay attention the movement here. Hitting the proper form is essential to make sure you’re getting the most out of the exercise—particularly because of the subtle details with the position and what you need to do to make sure you’re actually getting work in. Let’s break down everything you need to know.
Ebenezer Samuel/Men’s Health
Be Picky About What’s Off the Bench
Eb says: This is a half-bench press, but it’s more than that. You want to be very intentional about the parts of your body that are off the bench and how you set up on the bench. You need to set up with your butt near the bottom edge of the bench, so your legs can’t brace against the bench and take strain off your core. Then you’ll also want one full glute, one half of your torso, your spine, and half your head off the bench.
Be intentional about getting these off the bench and feel how it changes your body’s balance demands; if you don’t, you’ll instantly make the move too easy. The best way to get in this position; hold the weight in your working hand overhead, then shimmy off the bench into proper position.
Eb says: Once you start doing reps, you’ve got to active fire off with your glutes. This isn’t just about squeezing your glutes; it’s about squeezing them as hard as possible. Your knees are going to want to cave in at the bottom of every rep because that’s the path of least resistance, but you want your knees driving open aggressively.
So squeeze your glutes hard, as if doing a squat. Videotape yourself if you can, watching your technique to make sure your knees stay strongly open and your feet stay grounded to the floor.
Eb says: Don’t let the dumbbell come to rest on your chest at the bottom of your reps; make sure it’s an inch above your chest. You want the bottom position of each press to be a position of work for your core, and making sure you’re an inch above the ground. You’ll need to control the weight in this position, both with your chest and with your abs and glutes.
Want to master even more moves? Check out our entire Form Check series.
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