Dumbbell Shoulder Press Exercise

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dumbbell shoulder press

Dumbbell Shoulder Press Exercise

The dumbbell shoulder press is an effective exercise for almost any gym goer, regardless of their goals. The exercise can be used within a bodybuilding routine to stimulate muscle growth, as a strength building exercise, or by a trainee of either gender focused on improving their physique. The dumbbell shoulder press can be performed seated or standing, alternating arms or pressing both arms at the same time. The exercise targets the front and side deltoid heads (shoulders), as well as the triceps and the Clavicular Head of the chest (upper chest region).

How to perform the shoulder press

To perform the seated dumbbell press the following instructions can be followed:

  • Sit on a bench which has a back support whilst grasping a set of dumbbells in each hand.
  • Bring the dumbbells to shoulder level so they are ready to pressed above the head, the elbows should be below the wrists and be flared outward. Palms should be facing in front. This is the starting position.
  • From the starting position, press the dumbbells above the head until the arms are fully extended.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells, mirroring the same motion as the upward press but in reverse.
  • Repeat for repetitions.

The standing shoulder press is performed in the same manner, yet standing and ensuring sound posture throughout.

Remember to keep the elbows flared outward during the exercise to maximise the load placed on the middle deltoid head. The dumbbells should not be kept close to the head during the lower portion of the lift; instead they should be supported at either side of the shoulders. This ensures the shoulders remain the primary mover and minimises the recruitment of the triceps (which will be prominent if the dumbbells are kept close together).

Muscles recruited

The shoulder press does stimulate the front deltoid head significantly more so than the side head. The front head receives greater stimulation during the abduction of the shoulder when the wrists are above the elbows, which is the case during the shoulder press. It is for this reason the wrists should not travel higher than the elbows during lateral raises also.

The shoulder press may be implemented as primarily a front deltoid exercise, yet noted for the several muscle groups which aid the lift. It is for this reason that the exercise is chosen for strength and power building, allowing for heavy loads to be used to increase upper body power, especially in the shoulders and triceps (often called “push” muscles alongside the chest). Bodybuilding and aesthetic focused trainees will perform the shoulder press due to effectiveness at stimulating the shoulder muscles, as well as the triceps and stabilising muscles.

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