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How To: Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
The overhead press is the best size and strength builder for the shoulders that’s out there, when it comes to shoulder training too many guys are working on excessive amounts of isolation via exercises such as the front raise, dumbbell lateral raise and rear deltoid fly… these exercises are useful for isolating the different heads of the shoulder however to build overall mass and powerful shoulder strength you need to be pressing heavy!

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Shoulders

Required: Dumbbells & Bench

Optional: N/A

Dumbbell Shoulder Press Form:

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, place them on your thighs and sit on a bench with a back support (adjust an incline bench if necessary).

Kick your knees up one at a time to raise the dumbbells into place and twist your wrists away from you (palms facing forward).

As you breath out drive the dumbbells upward while maintaining them as inline with your body as possible.

Contract at the top of the repetition for one second.

Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press Variations

Arnold Press

A twisting variation of the dumbbell shoulder press, activating each head of the deltoids.

Kettlebell Press

Pressing a kettlebell overhead as opposed to a dumbbell, utilizing different weight distribution.

Unilateral Shoulder Press

Performing one side at a time while holding the other dumbbell in place, increasing core activation.

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You can invest in a pair of these dumbbells that’ll last you forever here.

Common Dumbbell Shoulder Press Mistakes

Too Much Weight

You should be lifting a weight on your presses that you actually can lift with correct form for your prescribed number of repetitions.
If you’re struggling to get the weight up you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Leaning forwards, falling backwards, utilizing momentum to drive the dumbbells upwards while pushing it away from your body… when excessive amounts of weight is used for pressing movements you’ll naturally do whatever you can to get it overhead.

Form ALWAYS comes first, muscling weight that’s too heavy for you to manage before dropping it on your head isn’t going to help you build the shoulder strength and size you want.

Not doing Full Range Of Motion

Don’t expect to reap all the results of the shoulder press if you’re only working half of the range of the exercise.
This is without a doubt the most common mistake I see being made with most exercises, and the shoulderpress is no exception! Your arms should be locked out at the top of each repetition with the dumbbells directly above your head. When lowering the barbell it should come all the way down – don’t stop once the dumbbells are in line with your ears and your arms are parallel, you aren’t working the shoulders in their entirety.

Not Pushing Vertically

The dumbbells should take the shortest path to the top – this is directly in-line with your body.
You should solely be pressing upward, not forwards or backwards.
Not only does pressing forward place more emphasis on the chest and front deltoids (as opposed to working the entire shoulder) you’ll struggle to lift the weight once you’re going heavy as this is more of an isolater and your balance can also be compromised as you push the weight infront of you, making it a struggle to maintain your ground without falling forward.

Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Barbell Overhead Press
  • Arnold Press

Any Questions Regarding The Dumbbell Shoulder Press? Ask Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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