When it comes to creating and devising a shoulder workout routine, the standard dumbbell shoulder press always seems a popular choice amongst individuals looking to build strength and size. This is a great exercise; however, one criticism of it concerns the range of motion offered by the movement. Through keeping the arms out at the side – even with incredible flexibility – the dumbbells will not be lowered below the shoulder.

Que Arnold Schwarzenegger! During his bodybuilding days, Mr Schwarzenegger recognised a potential flaw with this exercise and developed his own shoulder press variation, which over a period a time has come to be known as the Arnold Press.

The Arnold Press

So what’s so different? Quite simply, the Arnold press gives an enhanced range of motion throughout the exercise. This extended range of motion is created by lowering the dumbbells in front of you, rather than to the side, giving you that maximal stretch required and targeting both the anterior and medial deltoid fibres.

This exercise, if performed correctly, can quickly build muscular mass at the front and sides of your shoulder region and is an incredible alternative to the standard dumbbell press. This exercise should be considered exactly that, an alternative. It is not a replacement and should be utilised interchangeably with the standard dumbbell press and other shoulder press exercises in an attempt to continually test and shock your muscles with every workout.

How To Execute

As with all exercises, it’s important to get your form correct so that the target muscles are optimally loaded and the potential for injury is kept to a minimum. So what is expected of you during this exercise? To complete the Arnold press perform the following:

  • Sit on a supportive bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Raise the dumbbells to your shoulder position with palms facing towards you.
  • Push the dumbbells upwards whilst commencing a twist movement.
  • As you reach the top of the movement ensure that your palms are facing forwards.
  • Lower the dumbbells in a reverse movement. This is one repetition.
Arnold Press Video

Final Word

When performing the exercise ensure that you maintain strict form throughout. The movement should be slow and controlled without any jerking movements. At the top of the movement do not lock out your arms. If you have only previously experienced the standard dumbbell press then it is likely that you will require a lesser load for this particular exercise due to the enhanced range of motion associated with the Arnold press.

The Arnold press is a great alternative shoulder press exercise that when merged into a shoulder workout regime has the ability to produce incredible gains in strength and size. Next time you’re in the free weights section, why not give it a go.