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How to Military Press 140 Pounds with One Arm

December 15, 2009 09:35 AM

I started at the young age of 12. It all started with a cheap York Barbell set as preparation for football. I seemed to have a natural knack for resistance training, unconsciously using methods that later research revealed to be quite productive, and a genetic background of European labourers and farmers allows me to gain muscle and strength very quickly.

It seems that in my family, we are all gifted in regards to deadlifting and overhead lifting. However, a congenital birth defect left me with a sunken sternum and improperly shaped ribcage, so I was never any good at standard bench pressing, so I focus on overhead lifting. A bad knee injury, and a lot of missing cartilage, forces me to reign in squatting volumes, but allows me to focus on the deadlift. As for my training styles over the years, they have always tipped towards strength endurance, with the occasional dip into bodybuilding and powerlifting.

It is not until the last few years that my lifts have started to really excel, with my favorite records to date including a pullup with additional 72 lbs at 240 pounds of bodyweight, a one-arm handstand hold with bw + 40 lbs for 30 seconds, standard handstand pushup for a double with bw + 40 lbs. And a 145-pound press that you see in the photo.

As for my current training, it mainly focuses around the Enter the Kettlebell! Program Minimum, with the clean & FSQ preceding the TGU, rows following, then presses (either straight sets or ladders) supersetted with chins (usually bodyweight). As per the Titan challenge, I alter the weights and reps uses for the TGU, and the weights used on the TGU usually determine the weight I use later for the MP press.

On swing days, I will do light pressing for high volume (usually for sets of 5 with around 50% of previous day's training weight), and follow it either with heavy swings as per the Titan Challenge (see Part 1 and Part II), or snatches MVO2 style. With the swings I will use up to 150 lbs one handed, and for the snatches, I keep them light and fast using the 24kg.

I will throw in grip work usually before the above training as a warm-up after my warm up, which is that of the PM out of Enter the Kettlebell! I also dabble with unbraced short steel bending, but my current training doesn't require me to work it as hard as I used to in order to keep that strength level.

Lastly, for one-arm overhead pressing, my previous best, before kettlebells, was 85 lbs with a dumbell. I used to, and still do, work with very high volume for the press, and have seen that when training the upper body with the same regards to volume as the lower body has boosted my pressing and rowing power tremendously. I will often go for a total of hundreds of reps in a single training session with high volume pressing, my current endurance record being 1400 reps with a 50 lb dumbell, at a pace of 5 reps every half a minute, alternating hands. It took me 2 years to work up to that volume, and was a record set almost a year ago (one I have no interest in breaking any time soon). I am also a fan of heavy high rep windmills, finding they compliment heavy pressing beautifully when done at the end of a training session.

I only have a 16, 24, and 32kg kettlebells, but I have a lot of 5 and 10 lb. ankle/wrist weights that I strap very tightly to my 32kg. This way I not only get a very heavy kettlebell, but if I strap some of the weights on loosely, the kettlebell becomes a little more difficult to handle, with the weight shifting randomly throughout the lift. [Use this method at your own grill's risk.—Editor's note] Combine that with a second kettlebell in the same hand, as for the rows, and I can get to 205 lbs. Due to limited funds, I usually make what I cannot afford.

My training, in short, is quite uncomplicated, and is based on tweaks to the basics, high volume alternated with high intensity, and the principle of S.A.I.D. The ETK Program Minimum and the Titan Challenge have allowed me to hit a whole new level, and quickly, with my journey with the program minimum and the titan challenge not lasting longer than 8-10 months.

My new goal is to row one-armed with bodyweight for reps, and press 75% of my bodyweight in the military press with one hand. For me, that is only another 40 lbs to add to my current press, something I now see within reach in the next few years.

Michael Bunting is a 29 year-old Emergency Medical Technician from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Has been experimenting with various forms of resistance training since the age of 12. No formal training in any form of athletics or kinesiology outside of an obsessive interest in odd lifts and strength endurance training. Can be contacted at