One-Side Loaded Barbell Shoulder Press

The Military Press (a.k.a. barbell shoulder press) is a standard shoulder exercise, and it's very effective for developing power and strength in the shoulders.

THIS version of the barbell shoulder press adds a twist. You're going to only load ONE side of the bar while you're doing it.

What's this going to accomplish?


First, it's going to load one shoulder at a time.

This allows you to focus more on really making that muscle WORK. The shoulders really benefit from lighter weight and focused workload - there is a tendency to want to lift heavy to build big shoulders...ironically enough, trying to lift TOO heavy will actually limit your shoulder development.

By backing off on weight and achieving greater focus, you'll get overall better shoulders... stronger, better looking, and less injury-prone.


Second, by putting all the weight on side, it allows you more freedom of movement with the bar.

This makes it very similar to a dumbbell movement in that respect. You can follow the most natural movement pattern for your structure and because your hands aren't locked onto the bar trying to lift a balanced load, you can actually bring your hand directly over your head to get a more complete contraction, something you just can't do with a regularly-loaded barbell.


Third, the unbalanced loading works the muscles of the core.

They have to compensate for the load by contracting and stabilizing the core to prevent you from falling over. You will absolutely feel the activation of these muscles when you train in an unbalanced fashion like, which is more like "real life" than regular weight training.



So here's what the exercise looks like...I've loaded a 25 lb plate onto one side the barbell and I'm gripping the bar right up near the plate end, as close on the bar as I can grip to it. Then it's just a simple press up.

Notice how as I press up, I'm also tilting the bar. This tilt raises the pink side of your hand higher, which is similar to the "pouring water on your head" trick that you can use with dumbbells to maintain tension on the side delts. Now you're doing it with a barbell!

If you had both side loaded, you couldn't accomplish this.

Do all your reps on one side (about 8 to 10 reps is good) then set the bar down and switch to the other side.

One important thing to note when you're doing ANY form of barbell press is at the bottom of press, you do need to lean your upper body back a little so that you can clear your face. Once the bar is higher than your head, then push your head forward under the bar and finish with the bar directly over the crown of your head.

This activates the rear delts more fully and is a better-supported position for your entire body to be in with a weight held overhead.


Give this one a try in your next shoulder workout and see how it feels. It's a nice change of pace from regular barbell pressing and will really fire up the delts strongly.

I would also recommend the Two-Phase Shoulder Press for building strength in the shoulders.



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