Kneeling Single-Arm Dumbbell Press (How To, Muscles Worked)

The kneeling single-arm dumbbell press is a great movement for novice and advanced lifters to incorporate into their pressing.

This movement is used by strength and conditioning specialists, physical therapists, sports medicine professionals, and general lifters to increase strength and hypertrophy in the shoulders.

In this guide, I am going to show you how to do the half-kneeling single-arm dumbbell press, coaching points, muscles worked, and more.

How To Do Kneeling Single-Arm Dumbbell Presses

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbell

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Take a kneeling position. One knee up and the other down. Bring your toe in on the down leg so that you are on the tip of your shoes
  • If you have your right knee up, grab the dumbbell in your left hand. Face the palm toward you.
  • Brace the abdomen and upper back. Make your torso as tall as possible and stay rigid throughout the entire movement.
  • You may find it comfortable to put your non-pressing hand on your hip or extended out to the side for balance.
  • Press the dumbbell vertically, finishing with the bicep very close to the ear. Lock in the rep at the top and slowly return to the start.
  • Focus on your balance. The half-kneeling position should challenge your core control and ability to stay tall and rigid as you press.
  • Once you finish your reps on one side, put the dumbbell down. Switch your knees in your kneeling stance. Perform your presses on the other side to complete the set.

Coaching Points

I am a huge fan of the tall-kneeling position. It challenges the lifter to balance, stay tall and rigid, and disallows the legs from cheating in helping the press.

This is a great movement for novice lifters that need a progression into overhead pressing. After 2-3 weeks of training, 2 dumbbell, standing, landmine, and barbell options will fall in line for this progression.

Muscles Worked

The kneeling single-arm dumbbell press engages more muscles than you think and for different reasons.

  • Anterior delts (Primary concentric movers)
  • Medial and rear delts (Primary eccentric and isometric stabilizers)
  • Lats and biceps (Secondary eccentric and isometric stabilizers)
  • Triceps (Lockout)
  • Abdominal and lower back muscles (Stabilizers in most compound movements)
  • Glutes (Lower half stability)

Kneeling Single-Arm Dumbbell Press Alternatives

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Grab your dumbbells and perform your presses in a standing position. This is a natural progression for lifters as they get more comfortable pressing overhead.

Landmine Single Arm Press

Push one end of your barbell into a corner or stable surface. Load the other end with some weight. I would recommend starting very light at first as you get used to this movement that is most likely new.  Standing in an athletic position, perform single-arm presses with the “landmine”.

Med Ball Shot Put

Take a lighter med ball and find a wall that can take a beating. Hold the med ball at chin level, stand in a throwing position, turn and throw the med ball into the wall as hard as you can. This is a great movement to use as a warm-up for a big upper body day.

More Info and Links

Looking for some more great supplemental work for your pressing day? Head over to our exercise library to find step-by-step exercises to help you reach your athletic potential.

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