Skip to main content

Arnold Press

What Is An Arnold Press

How To Do An Arnold Press

Named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Arnold press is a dumbbell shoulder press variation that involves wrist rotation to target all three deltoids. While the posterior, medial, and anterior deltoids perform the bulk of this move, the triceps, upper chest, and traps are also involved.

Arnold presses can be performed seated or standing; the seated press variation provides more stability which allows heavier load to be lifted by the intended muscle groups, while the standing Arnold press requires move involvement from the glutes and core to generate stability and protect the back.

Although this is a bilateral exercise, the use of dumbbells means the lifter can identify and address muscular imbalances between the two sides.

Commonly Asked Questions On Arnold Press

  • The Arnold press targets all thee heads of the deltoid. The rear deltoids are often neglected in shoulder presses, however the wrist rotation in the Arnold press means it is recruited for this exercise. The triceps, upper chest, and traps are all worked too.

  • The Arnold press is not necessarily bad for your shoulders but it does place more pressure on the shoulder joint than other shoulder press variations. We recommend building shoulder strength, stability, and mobility with the dumbbell shoulder press before trying this variation.

  • The Arnold press was invented by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the world-famous bodybuilder. It was created to place a greater challenge on the shoulder than the standard dumbbell press. The wrist rotation ensures all three deltoid heads are targeted, and increases time under tension.

Arnold Press Tips

Some people may find their rotator cuffs feel under stress when performing the Arnold press. This can be due to the arms being positioned directly to the side of the head. Instead, position your arms so that they are slightly in front of the body to aid the shoulders to press in a more comfortable position.

For some, the rotation of the wrists may feel uncomfortable and may further put greater stress on the shoulder joint. If changing the arm position doesn’t reduce the stress on the shoulders, or you’re recovering from an injury, it may be more suitable to use the shoulder press machine or the dumbbell shoulder press variation.

How To Do An Arnold Press

  1. Take a dumbbell in each hand. If standing, adopt a shoulder width stance and brace your core. Raise the dumbbells so they’re shoulder height with your palms facing your body.

  2. If doing the seated Arnold press, sit on a bench with a slight decline in the back support and place the dumbbells on each knee, then use your legs to kick the dumbbells to shoulder height with palms facing your body. Lie with your back against the support.

  3. Pull your shoulder blades back and down and then extend your arms up while rotating your wrists to the front, so that you end up with the dumbbells above your head with palms facing forward.
    Remaining stable, slowly lower the dumbbells and rotate the wrists so that the palms are facing towards you again.

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.