Tip: 200 Pound Man, 100 Pound Dumbbell

Can you pass this strength test? All you'll need is a dumbbell that's 50 percent of your bodyweight.

The One-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press Test

You should be able to perform 5 reps per side with 50% of your bodyweight. That would be a 100-pound dumbbell for a 200 pound man.

Before you throw a tantrum, yes, the barbell bench is absolutely valuable. The problem is, you can get away with pushing heavy weights even if you have glaring weaknesses and faulty mechanics.

When you become "efficient" despite these issues, it's only a matter of time until your strength reaches a glass ceiling and you get hurt. Once you refine your pressing mechanics and eliminate or decrease imbalances, you'll stay healthy and build more strength over the long haul.

The one-arm dumbbell bench press exposes any weak links and gives you immediate feedback on strength discrepancies between sides. With this info, you're able to train each side individually and bring up weak points in your shoulders, pecs, and triceps. As a bonus, the unilateral load forces your core to work overtime to avoid the humiliation of falling off the bench.


Bench Press

Can't Do It?

Take a brief hiatus from the barbell, dust off your dumbbells, and get re-acquainted with them. Perform the exercise with one arm or alternate sides on each rep, focusing on slowing down the eccentric (negative) portion of the movement and mixing in iso-holds at various positions.

Charley Gould, CSCS, is a former professional baseball player and strength-and-conditioning coach. He specializes in helping individuals look, feel, and perform like elite athletes. Charley is the head of sports performance at Universal Athletic Club in Lancaster, PA. Follow Charley Gould on Instagram