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

But when a selected train variation is known as after a person lifter or coach, it’s normally an indicator that the motion is next-level and must be used accordingly. John Meadows’ Meadows row, Glenn Pendlay’s Pendlay Row, Steve Romania’s Romanian deadlift (Kidding. Although, the extra correct “Nicu Vlad deadlift” would sound fairly cool, too.)

When it involves eponymous shoulder coaching, the Arnold press is known as after the quintessential bodybuilder of all bodybuilders — the Austrian Oak, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here’s an in-depth take a look at this delt-builder from the seven-time Mr. Olympia.

How to Do the Arnold Press

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

Step 1 — Get Into the Starting Position

Credit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Sit on a bench with a dumbbell in every hand, resting in your thighs with a thumbs-up grip. “Kick” the load 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 dealing with your mouth.

You ought to virtually be within the prime place of a curl, together with your arms totally bent and your pinkies dealing with one another. Keep your shoulder blades pulled again, don’t permit the weights to drag your physique ahead.

Form Tip: Pretend you’re extra-shy and concentrate on masking your mouth with the weights on this place. This is an effective 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 overheadCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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

Continue urgent the weights totally overhead, bringing them collectively on the prime. In the locked out place, the weights must be almost touching and your palms must be dealing with forwards, similar to a regular dumbbell overhead press.

Form Tip: Some lifters have bother performing the required actions concurrently. Perform the elevate slowly and concentrate on mixing the upwards and backwards motion whereas rotating your fingers. The train ought to finally really feel clean and pure.

Step 3 — Lower to Your Chin

Woman sitting in gym holding dumbbells near shouldersCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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

The backside place ought to once more resemble the highest a part of a curl together with your arms bent and your palms dealing with your head.

Form Tip: Like the urgent movement, some lifters have bother performing the motion in reverse order. Go slowly and concentrate on mixing every step to deliver your elbows down and ahead.

Arnold Press Mistakes to Avoid

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

Rotating Your Hands, Not Your Arms

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

Man outdoors performing dumbbell shoulder pressCredit: Maridav / Shutterstock

The higher arms, not simply the fingers and wrists, want to maneuver in the course of the press. Moving the higher arm, which is managed by the shoulder and higher again, is what adjustments the urgent angle and will increase muscle recruitment.

Avoid It: Make certain 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.

Using a Short Range of Motion

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 one in all its defining options, and reducing that vary of movement quick will considerably cut back its advantages.

Man in gym lifting dumbbellsCredit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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

Avoid it: Remember three key factors: Get your fingers in entrance of your face on the backside, have your elbows in-line together with your shoulders on the midpoint, and have the weights almost touching at lockout.

Benefits of the Arnold Press

The Arnold press is known as 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 “pretty good” selection for including muscle.

Man sitting in gym pressing dumbbells overheadCredit: Ihor Bulyhin / Shutterstock

Here are just a few extra causes so as to add this entire muscle-builder to any higher physique exercise.

Long Range of Motion

Compared to the usual dumbbell shoulder press, the Arnold press extends the vary of movement a number of further inches. This added vary will increase the stretch, significantly on the entrance delt muscle, and is a powerful stimulus for extra progress.

Shoulder Size

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

Muscles Worked by Arnold Press

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

Bodybuilder flexing back, shoulders, and armsCredit: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

By controlling the weights from in entrance of the physique to the perimeters, muscle tissues are recruited in a singular manner, which requires a level of shoulder and higher again mobility but additionally delivers extra muscle progress.


The deltoids, or shoulders, are composed of three separate heads of the muscle — the anterior/entrance, lateral/aspect , and rear. Each head has a barely completely 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.

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


The triceps are product of three separate heads — the lengthy, the lateral, and the medial. While 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 so forth.). (2)

The triceps develop into extremely activated in the course of 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 task in elevating the higher arm in entrance of the physique.

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

Upper Back

The higher again is a collective time period for a number of muscle tissues operating 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 in the course of the press and is actively engaged to drag the arms backwards in the course of the Arnold press.

Who Should 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 Training to Build Muscle

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

How to Program the Arnold Press

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

Moderate Weight, Moderate Reps

Training 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. Be certain to make use of a gradual, or barely gradual, rep pace and take every set to thorough muscular fatigue.

Mechanical Drop Set Technique

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

While conventional drop units permit continued coaching through the use of a lighter weight, mechanical drop units use the identical weight and change to a barely much less difficult, almost similar, train to instantly proceed coaching.

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

Because 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 extra repetitions earlier than hitting muscular failure once more. This high-intensity approach permits extra complete quantity to be carried out, which may enhance the exercise’s muscle-building stimulus.

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

Arnold Press Variations

The Arnold press may 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 a straightforward and efficient approach 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 load from the underside place.

This help means that you can use heavier weights whereas incorporating extra complete 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 “Big Z” Savickas). So, yeah, it’s in all probability value making an attempt out.

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

Arnold Press Alternatives

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

Neutral-Grip Overhead Press

The neutral-grip overhead press maintains your palms dealing with one another and your shoulders angled in the 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 singular and efficient approach to practice the shoulders at an angle, reasonably than straight overhead. This makes it extra appropriate for lifters with mobility points.

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


I hear my shoulder “clicking” in the course of the train. Is that dangerous?

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

However, listening to noises within the joint accompanied by ache and/or irritation is a completely completely different scenario and may be an indicator of impending issues. When unsure, 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. Just like all lifter who needs stronger glutes and hamstrings can profit from the deadlift though it’s one of many aggressive powerlifts. You don’t should be a aggressive powerlifter to learn from it.

The extra workouts you might have in your toolbox, the extra choices you must fine-tune your personal coaching program to achieve no matter targets you’ve set. Experiment and be taught loads of actions – “bodybuilding” workouts, Olympic elevate variations, gymnastic-type body weight workouts, no matter you assume is perhaps helpful.

Just you’ll want to 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 actually received’t flip you into an motion star, however it offers you 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. Effects of vary of movement on resistance coaching diversifications: A scientific evaluate and meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2021 Oct;31(10):1866-1881. doi: 10.1111/sms.14006. Epub 2021 Jul 5. PMID: 34170576.
  2. Kholinne E, Zulkarnain RF, Sun YC, Lim S, Chun JM, Jeon IH. The completely 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 beneath 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.

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