How to Do Standing and Seated Arnold Presses Right (Avoid Injury)

By Mark / a few months ago
Arold presses are a great shoulder exercise.

Arold presses are a great shoulder exercise.

Arnold Schwarzenegger knows a thing or two about doing Arnold presses is a great way to build a Mr. Olympia body. Discover how to build a body like the 8-time world champion...

Arnold Presses Analyzed

Seven times Mr. Olympia. The Terminator. The Governator. Arnold Schwarzenegger has had a long and prestigious career since his beginnings as a bodybuilder. Considered as one of the most famous muscle men in history, he’s made contributions to the world of bodybuilding that will last forever. One of the many bodybuilding exercises attributed to this icon is the Arnold Press. This article will explain how to do Arnold Presses worthy of the Governator's approval.

The Arnold Press is an exercise that uses dumbbells and primarily targets the anterior deltoid muscle (one of the three heads of the shoulder muscles), but also uses the lateral and posterior deltoids. Other muscles involved in this exercise include the triceps and trapezius. The Arnold Press is superior to other shoulder building exercises because it provides you with a greater range of motion that allows you to work out all three heads of the shoulder muscles. The Arnold Press can be done seated on a bench or standing.

Seated Arnold Press

In this version of the Arnold Press, you need to choose a bench or chair that provides good back support. In the gym, there are benches specifically suited to perform this exercise. You can also do these exercises seated on the edge of a flat bench, but you have to remember to maintain good posture.

Before you begin the exercise, you need to choose a set of dumbbells that will allow you to perform the exercise correctly. When first attempting this exercise, choose a light set of dumbbells. The range of motion on this exercise is very different from other shoulder exercises so you will need to perfect your form before increasing the weight.

When seated on the bench your feet should be planted firmly on the ground and they should be placed wider than shoulder width apart. Your back should either be placed firmly against the back support of the bench or, if you’re seated on the edge of the bench you should maintain a neutral spine. This will provide you with the greatest amount of stability.

Take the dumbbells that you have chosen to use for this exercise and bring them to just below eye level with your palms facing toward you. Your elbows should be positioned in a vertical line from your wrists and slightly flared out from your ribcage. Maintain a firm grip on the dumbbells are you prepare to perform the next step of the exercise.

As you start to raise the dumbbells, your elbows will be the first to initiate the movement. Your elbows should flare out to the sides and then you will begin the ascent. While you start to raise your elbows, you will simultaneously turn your wrists so that your palms are now facing away from you. This change in direction is what makes the Arnold Press such a powerful exercise.

Now that you have changed directions and your palms are facing away from you, you will continue lifting the dumbbells above your head. At the top of the lift, your elbows should be slightly bent. As you raise your arms toward the top of the lift, the dumbbells should be closer to each other than they were at the start of the lift. A good way to envision the movement is to pretend you are making the letter c as you lift the weight. When you get to the top of the lift, you need to reverse the order of the movement so you can get back to starting position.

From the top position, you slowly lower your elbows, and rotate your wrists so your palms are once again facing you. Once you have completed the rotation, lower the weight with control to the starting position. Always remember to maintain a neutral position of the spine and keep your feet firmly planted on the floor.

Standing Arnold Press

The standing version uses the same technique as the seated version. The only difference is that you will need to remember to stabilize your core muscles, leg muscles and position your feet correctly.

As with the seated version, your feet should be firmly planted on the ground. Unlike the seated version, your feet should not be wider than shoulder width. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart while standing, gives you the greatest amount of stability.

Before you begin the lift, your core muscles should be engaged. Your core muscles should be tight, as though you were sucking in your stomach, but not so much that you aren’t able to breathe easily. In addition to your core muscles, your gluteal muscles should be slightly flexed. These additional steps that help with stability will ensure you perform the exercise correctly and avoid injury.

Perform Perfect Presses

Arnold Schwarzenegger understood that the keys to bodybuilding success revolve around trying new things, staying motivated and always cranking out that last rep. These keys aren’t just the property of the Governator, they are available to you as well. By doing the Arnold Press, you will effectively develop your shoulder muscles and people will know with just one glance that you have achieved bodybuilding success.

About the author


Hello, I'm Mark. I'm a bodybuilding champion and have been active in the industry for over 10 years. I created this website to provide fellow bodybuilders with useful information to help them achieve their dream physique.