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How to Do the Arnold Press for Fully Developed Shoulders

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An train’s title doesn’t often maintain an excessive amount of worth past summarizing what it’s or the way it’s performed. The bench press has you mendacity on a bench whereas urgent. The barbell row has you, effectively, rowing a barbell. Squat’s gonna squat.

However when a particular train variation is called after a person lifter or coach, it’s often an indicator that the motion is next-level and needs to be used accordingly. John Meadows’ Meadows row, Glenn Pendlay’s Pendlay Row, Steve Romania’s Romanian deadlift (Kidding. Though, the extra correct “Nicu Vlad deadlift” would sound fairly cool, too.)

Relating to eponymous shoulder coaching, the Arnold press is called after the quintessential bodybuilder of all bodybuilders — the Austrian Oak, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Right here’s an in-depth have a look at this delt-builder from the seven-time Mr. Olympia.

Do the Arnold Press

The Arnold press is a variation of the usual seated overhead dumbbell press. It makes use of a unique path of resistance and longer vary of movement to recruit extra muscle mass into the train.

Step 1 — Get Into the Beginning Place

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Sit on a bench with a dumbbell in every hand, resting in your thighs with a thumbs-up grip. “Kick” the burden straight as much as relaxation the thumb-side of every weight on the fronts of your shoulders. When each weights are up, barely decrease your elbows and rotate your fingers to have your palms going through your mouth.

You need to nearly be within the prime place of a curl, along with your arms totally bent and your pinkies going through one another. Hold your shoulder blades pulled again, don’t enable the weights to drag your physique ahead.

Kind Tip: Fake you’re extra-shy and deal with overlaying your mouth with the weights on this place. It is a good goal for the underside place and can assist to encourage a full stretch and full vary of movement.

Step 2 — Press and Rotate

Man in gym pressing dumbbells overhead
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

In a coordinated movement, start urgent the weights up and again whereas steadily rotating your fingers and arms. Because the weights transfer overhead, your elbows ought to come to the perimeters in-line along with your shoulders and your palms ought to flip to face ahead.

Proceed urgent the weights completely overhead, bringing them collectively on the prime. Within the locked out place, the weights needs to be practically touching and your palms needs to be going through forwards, similar to a typical dumbbell overhead press.

Kind Tip: Some lifters have bother performing the mandatory actions concurrently. Carry out the carry slowly and deal with mixing the upwards and backwards motion whereas rotating your fingers. The train ought to finally really feel easy and pure.

Step 3 — Decrease to Your Chin

Woman sitting in gym holding dumbbells near shoulders
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

From the locked out place, reverse your complete course of. Deliver the weights down whereas shifting your elbows to the entrance and rotating your palms in direction of your face. Within the backside place, the weights ought to once more be in entrance of your mouth.

The underside place ought to once more resemble the highest a part of a curl along with your arms bent and your palms going through your head.

Kind Tip: Just like the urgent movement, some lifters have bother performing the motion in reverse order. Go slowly and deal with mixing every step to convey your elbows down and ahead.

Arnold Press Errors to Keep away from

As a result of the Arnold press entails so many shifting components, there are a number of frequent approach errors which may cut back the effectiveness.

Rotating Your Fingers, Not Your Arms

The Arnold press isn’t merely “turning your fingers when you press the burden,” as a result of turning your fingers doesn’t essentially change the angle of your shoulder, which implies you’re not essentially recruiting extra parts of the deltoid (shoulder).

Man outdoors performing dumbbell shoulder press
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The higher arms, not simply the fingers and wrists, want to maneuver through the press. Transferring the higher arm, which is managed by the shoulder and higher again, is what modifications the urgent angle and will increase muscle recruitment.

Keep away from It: Make sure that your elbows transition from pointing forwards (within the backside place) to pointing to the perimeters (within the prime place). Your fingers ought to rotate as a pure aspect impact of shifting your elbows.

Utilizing a Brief Vary of Movement

Performing an train with a brief vary of movement has been proven to construct much less dimension and energy in comparison with a full vary of movement. (1) The prolonged vary of movement of an Arnold press is considered one of its defining options, and reducing that vary of movement quick will considerably cut back its advantages.

Man in gym lifting dumbbells
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Some lifters maintain the weights at eye-level fairly than decreasing to their mouth, or they don’t rotate their elbows again in-line with their shoulders and as a substitute maintain them angled barely forwards, or they could keep away from locking out on the prime. All of those are errors that may cut back the general muscle-building stimulus.

Keep away from it: Bear in mind three key factors: Get your fingers in entrance of your face on the backside, have your elbows in-line along with your shoulders on the midpoint, and have the weights practically touching at lockout.

Advantages of the Arnold Press

The Arnold press is called after one of many biggest bodybuilders of all time and it’s been used constantly for many years, so it’s going to be a “fairly good” alternative for including muscle.

Man sitting in gym pressing dumbbells overhead
Credit score: Ihor Bulyhin / Shutterstock

Listed here are a couple of extra causes so as to add this entire muscle-builder to any higher physique exercise.

Lengthy Vary of Movement

In comparison with the usual dumbbell shoulder press, the Arnold press extends the vary of movement a number of additional inches. This added vary will increase the stretch, notably on the entrance delt muscle, and is a robust stimulus for extra progress.

Shoulder Dimension

The Arnold press is a severe delt-building train. The vary of movement and very long time underneath rigidity set off muscle progress in your complete shoulder, particularly the entrance and aspect heads, with some help within the higher again and traps.

Muscle groups Labored by the Arnold Press

The Arnold press is primarily a shoulder train, however because of the weight’s path of movement, the higher again and even the biceps play a job in executing the motion.

Bodybuilder flexing back, shoulders, and arms
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By controlling the weights from in entrance of the physique to the perimeters, muscle mass are recruited in a novel method, which requires a level of shoulder and higher again mobility but in addition delivers extra muscle progress.


The deltoids, or shoulders, are composed of three separate heads of the muscle — the anterior/entrance, lateral/aspect , and rear. Every head has a barely totally different position dictated by the arm’s place relative to the physique. The entrance delt lifts the arm in entrance of the physique, the lateral delt controls the arm out to the aspect, and the rear pulls the arm again behind the physique.

Because of the movement of the weights, the Arnold press recruits all three delt heads considerably, with elevated emphasis on the entrance delts which work extraordinarily exhausting when the burden is within the backside place.


The triceps are product of three separate heads — the lengthy, the lateral, and the medial. Whereas the lateral and medial heads connect to the higher arm, the lengthy head connects to the scapulae (shoulder blades), with every head being recruited when the arm is in numerous positions relative to the physique (down by your sides, straight in entrance of your physique, overhead, and many others.). (2)

The triceps change into extremely activated through the Arnold press when the weights are roughly ear-level and are recruited to press into the lockout place.


The biceps, consisting of the lengthy head and the quick head, are concerned in bending or flexing the arm in addition to rotating the forearms. The lengthy head, particularly, additionally performs a job in elevating the higher arm in entrance of the physique.

The biceps aren’t activated throughout normal shoulder presses, nonetheless, the Arnold press recruits the biceps as stabilizers to regulate the burden through the decrease half of the train when the arm is bent and rotated into the overhead place.

Higher Again

The higher again is a collective time period for a number of muscle mass working from shoulder to shoulder and across the shoulder blades, together with the trapezius, teres main and minor, rhomboids, and rear deltoids.

The higher again offers stability through the press and is actively engaged to drag the arms backwards through the Arnold press.

Who Ought to Do the Arnold Press

The Arnold press is a comparatively superior shoulder press variation that can be utilized by any lifter who can grasp its efficiency. 

Lifters Coaching to Construct Muscle

The Arnold press places the shoulder by a very long time underneath rigidity, which is proven to be a major issue for constructing muscle. (3) This intense train will add dimension to your shoulders, arms, and higher again.

Program the Arnold Press

The Arnold press can play a job in any muscle-building routine, particularly as one of many first workouts carried out in a shoulder-focused exercise.

Average Weight, Average Reps

Coaching this traditional bodybuilding train with a traditional bodybuilding methodology of three to 4 units of eight to 12 reps is a dependable plan to develop wider delts. You’ll want to use a gentle, or barely sluggish, rep pace and take every set to thorough muscular fatigue.

Mechanical Drop Set Method

One superior muscle-building approach that may be very efficient with the Arnold Press is mechanical drop units. It’s a solution to proceed coaching a physique half after reaching muscular failure on a particular train.

Whereas conventional drop units enable continued coaching by utilizing a lighter weight, mechanical drop units use the identical weight and change to a barely much less difficult, practically similar, train to instantly proceed coaching.

For instance, should you carried out a set of Arnold presses to muscular failure utilizing 40-pound dumbbells, as a substitute of rapidly grabbing 25-pound dumbbells and performing extra Arnold presses, you’ll instantly start performing normal overhead dumbbell presses utilizing the identical 40-pound dumbbells.

As a result of the vary of movement with normal overhead dumbbell presses is shorter than with Arnold presses, the train is comparatively much less difficult and it is possible for you to to carry out a number of further repetitions earlier than hitting muscular failure once more. This high-intensity approach permits extra whole quantity to be carried out, which may enhance the exercise’s muscle-building stimulus.

This identical approach works for any associated workouts, like front squats and again squats, incline bench press and flat bench press, or dumbbell curls and hammer curls.

Arnold Press Variations

The Arnold press could be comparatively superior, however there are a number of choices to coach the shoulders with comparable dimension and energy advantages.

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press

The seated overhead dumbbell press is a traditional motion to coach the shoulders and triceps. It’s a direct urgent train to work the shoulders and triceps.

This train is an easy and efficient solution to practice the overhead press with out extreme approach cues like standing stability, elevated vary of movement, or different variables.

Arnold Push Press

The Arnold push press is a standing variation which makes use of deliberate leg drive, versus unconscious dishonest leg drive, to maneuver the burden from the underside place.

This help lets you use heavier weights whereas incorporating extra whole physique energy and energy.

Arnold Z Press

The Arnold Z press combines an train named after one of many biggest bodybuilders of all time (Arnold Schwarzenegger) with an train named after one of many biggest strongmen of all time (Zydrunas “Huge Z” Savickas). So, yeah, it’s in all probability value attempting out.

Sitting unsupported on the ground forces your core to be energetic all through the train and eliminates the power to cheat the motion with momentum, making it a particularly centered shoulder train.

Arnold Press Options

Not all lifters can carry out the Arnold press, typically on account of shoulder mobility points. There are some efficient alternate options to ship comparable outcomes.

Impartial-Grip Overhead Press

The neutral-grip overhead press maintains your palms going through one another and your shoulders angled in direction of the entrance all through the motion.

This adjusted hand and elbow place reduces shoulder joint pressure and is the popular urgent motion for any lifters coping with shoulder mobility restrictions.

Landmine Overhead Press

The landmine overhead press is a novel and efficient solution to practice the shoulders at an angle, fairly than immediately overhead. This makes it extra appropriate for lifters with mobility points.

The angled urgent path barely modifications the muscle recruitment, will increase core engagement, and reduces joint stress.


I hear my shoulder “clicking” through the train. Is that unhealthy?

Usually talking, any noisy joints are a nuisance, however not an actual concern. (4) It’s typically air shifting across the cartilage of the joint, not essentially the joint grinding itself into oblivion.

Nevertheless, listening to noises within the joint accompanied by ache and/or irritation is a wholly totally different state of affairs and could be an indicator of impending issues. When doubtful, get checked by an orthopedist, physiotherapist, or certified skilled.

It’s named after a bodybuilder, so is it just for huge, jacked bodybuilders?

No, any lifter who needs extra muscular-looking shoulders can profit from the Arnold press. Similar to any lifter who needs stronger glutes and hamstrings can profit from the deadlift regardless that it’s one of many aggressive powerlifts. You don’t must be a aggressive powerlifter to learn from it.

The extra workouts you could have in your toolbox, the extra choices you must fine-tune your personal coaching program to succeed in no matter targets you’ve set. Experiment and study loads of actions – “bodybuilding” workouts, Olympic carry variations, gymnastic-type bodyweight exercises, no matter you assume is likely to be helpful.

Simply you should definitely use good approach and sound coaching ideas, and also you’ll solely get higher in the long term.

Do The Arnold Press. Do It Now.

The Arnold press received’t essentially flip you into an elite bodybuilder, and it definitely received’t flip you into an motion star, however it will provide you with an intense shoulder exercise and pack dimension onto your delts. So it’s time to terminate the reasons and get to work.


  1. Pallarés JG, Hernández-Belmonte A, Martínez-Cava A, Vetrovsky T, Steffl M, Courel-Ibáñez J. Results of vary of movement on resistance coaching diversifications: A scientific evaluation and meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports activities. 2021 Oct;31(10):1866-1881. doi: 10.1111/sms.14006. Epub 2021 Jul 5. PMID: 34170576.
  2. Kholinne E, Zulkarnain RF, Solar YC, Lim S, Chun JM, Jeon IH. The totally different position of every head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2018;52(3):201-205. doi:10.1016/j.aott.2018.02.005
  3. Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, et al. Muscle time underneath rigidity throughout resistance train stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. J Physiol. 2012;590(2):351-362. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200
  4. Pazzinatto, M. F., de Oliveira Silva, D., Faria, N. C., Simic, M., Ferreira, P. H., Azevedo, F. M., & Pappas, E. (2019). What are the medical implications of knee crepitus to people with knee osteoarthritis? An observational research with information from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Brazilian journal of bodily remedy, 23(6), 491–496. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.11.001

Featured Picture: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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