Arnold Press

  • Alternative Names: Arnold dumbbell press, Arnold shoulder press, seated Arnold press
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Equipment: Dumbbells
  • Muscles Targeted: Shoulders, traps, triceps
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 3-4 with 6-10 reps each
  • Variations: Standing and incline Arnold presses
  • Alternative: Dumbbell shoulder press, Bradford/Rocky presses

The Arnold press, designed by the bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, is one of the most effective exercises used for building broader and muscular shoulders. Arnie’s unique tweak to the dumbbell overhead press engages all the sections (front, medial, and posterior heads) of your deltoids, helping you to build well-defined shoulders while improving your posture.


  • You do not have to lift heavier weights for achieving the results.
  • It keeps your deltoids under tension longer than other shoulder exercises.
  • Strengthens the often neglected shoulder muscles and straightens posture, helping you with pulling exercises like pull-ups, rows, and deadlifts.
  • Can be performed with other lifting exercises including front raises, bent-over rear-delt flyes, and lateral raises.

Arnold Press Vs. Overhead Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  Arnold Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Weights Used Can be done with lighter dumbbells Involves lifting heavier weights than Arnold press
Form You rotate your wrists while pressing the dumbbells up Performed by holding the dbs with a pronated grip
Risks of Injury Should not be performed if you have rotator cuff issues Can be executed by those with lower back problems

How to do Arnold Press

Start the Arnold press by sitting on a flat bench with back support and holding a pair of dumbbells (weighing about 20-50 lbs) in front of you at chest level, using a supinated grip. It is your starting position. As you lift the dumbbells, rotate your wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing forward. Continue the movement, until your arms are locked out over your head. After pausing 1-2 seconds at the top, lower the weights to the original position.

Arnold Dumbbell Press Tips

  • Make sure that your back remains flat against the support throughout the exercise.
  • Avoid extending your head forward excessively.
  • Keep your arms close to the torso at the initial position.
  • If you feel stress in your traps or neck during the movement, then you should consider doing it with proper shoulder flexion and thoracic extension.


  1. Standing Arnold Press: Is similar to the seated Arnold press except that it is performed in a standing position.
  2. Incline Arnold Press: Done by holding a pair of dumbbells in a seated position on an incline bench.

Alternative Exercises

  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Bradford/Rocky Presses

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