If it's good enough for Arnold...

If it’s good enough for Arnold…

When most people think of presses involving the shoulder, they tend to think of regular dumbbell presses or standing barbell presses. The Arnold press is believed to be a more natural movement than the forced pathway of a straight press, as your hands turn inwards as you lift the weight. The exercise was named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, who developed the press in order to hit all three sides of the shoulder head at the same time.


Purpose: A regular dumbbell press mostly hits the medial (side) deltoids because of the wide bottom position. An Arnold press, on the other hand, has the weight beginning in front of the body – therefore hitting more of the front delt. It will also recruit your upper pectoral muscles.

You should use a lighter weight and a slow, controlled tempo when performing an Arnold press. Like any shoulder exercise, it is important not to go too heavy too quickly to avoid injury – even more so because of the increased range of motion. It’s a great exercise to perform at the end of a workout.

Set-up: Sit on a bench with your back flat against the support (you can also perform this standing, but start off with seated). Your feet should be firmly planted into the floor. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder level, with your palms facing your shoulders and your elbows bent and down. This position mimics the top position of a bicep curl (hands should be lower than in the ‘A’ picture below).

Execution: Press the dumbbells overhead while rotating your hands outwards, so your palms end up facing forwards when your arms are almost fully extended. Slowly bring the dumbbells back down to shoulder height by reversing the rotation movement.


(I’ve finally got a plan together to start filming these exercises starting next month. I tried to film myself in the gym the other day but that was a disaster – it’s not easy as others make it look!

Upper body compound workout:

Have you ever tried the Arnold press?

PS. We leave for Montenegro tomorrow – I’m so excited! I have written a couple of posts to go up while I’m away, so you shouldn’t miss me too much 😉

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