Why You Should Do Single-Arm Training

Single-arm training confers three important benefits that you don't get with traditional two-arm training.

Training with weights in both of your hands is the norm—it's what comes naturally. Barbell Bench: two hands working together. Dumbbell Shoulder Press: two dumbbells. It's what we do.

Why would you ever think to pick up just one dumbbell? They come in sets.

But what if I said you are missing out by always training with a weight in each hand? With single-arm training you reap three big benefits that you don't get with traditional two-arm training.

RELATED: Is It Better to Perform Exercises One Arm or Leg at a Time?

Single-Arm Training Benefits

1. Increased Core Stability

I have never met an athlete who didn't want a stronger core. For some reason, no one is ever satisfied with the amount of direct core work you give them. Their desire for stronger abdominals is good though, because the core plays a key role in transferring force throughout the body. It also plays a big role in resisting forces acting on the body, such as during contact sports.

When you train with one arm, you usually find yourself either leaning away from the weight or leaning into it. The benefit to your core comes when you resist the urge to lean, lock down your core and keep it level.

To understand what this feels like, start with a One-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press. Your body will want to turn into the weight, but the key is to resist the rotation and keep your body straight. Done correctly, it is a great way to improve your stability and control your core.

RELATED: Build True Strength and Stability With Core Training

2. Increased Time Under Tension

There are three ways that muscles grow. You can increase tension on the muscle (by lifting heavy weights), cause micro tears in the muscle (through repetition), and increase overall stress on the muscle (with time under tension).

If you want to gain size and strength in the off-season, do more single-arm training. The sets will take you twice as long to complete, doubling your muscles' normal time under tension. The extra stress will force your body to adapt, making you bigger and stronger. Get it?

RELATED: Time Under Tension: The Secret to Building More Muscle

3. Increased Limb Control

Lifting with one arm requires more focus on the exercise. You need to grip the weight harder to lower it and then press it back up under control. If you don't perform the exercise correctly, you could end up with an injury.

When you learn to lock down your shoulder blade, you will increase your shoulder stability, especially when your arm is fully extended overhead. This is beneficial for throwing athletes, stick athletes and athletes who push with one arm.

Favorite Single-Arm Lifts

One thing to take into consideration when lifting with one arm is weight selection. It should drop anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds. For example, if you typically perform Dumbbell Bench Presses with 50-pound weights, start at 40 pounds for your Single-Arm Bench.

Dumbbell/Kettlebell Standing One-Arm Shoulder Press

Coaching Points:

  • Brace your core tight.
  • Squeeze your glutes.
  • Use your free hand to monitor any torso movement.

Sets/Reps: 3-4 x 6-10

One-Arm Dumbbell/Kettlebell RDL

Coaching Points:

  • Lower under control.
  • Explode through your hips.
  • Brace your core tight.
  • Do not rotate your shoulders.

Sets/Reps: 3-4 x 6-10

One-Arm Dumbbell/Kettlebell Bent-Over Row

Coaching Points:

  • Don't let your shoulders rotate.
  • Bring your elbow to your back pocket.
  • Keep your hips level.

Sets/Reps: 3-4 x 6-12

Kettlebell One Arm Front Squat

Coaching Points:

  • Keep the weight at the center of your chest.
  • Sit your hips straight back.
  • Use your free hand to monitor any torso movement.

Sets/Reps: 3-4 x 6-10

Dumbbell/Kettlebell Waiter's Carry

Coaching Points:

  • Keep your elbow tight to your ear.
  • Keep your wrist straight.
  • Use your free hand to monitor any torso movement.

Sets/Distance: 3-4 x 20-40 yards

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock