Dumbbell Shoulder Press


Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Dumbbell Shoulder Press hits the lateral deltoids more intensely than barbell shoulder press movements. The end results include better developed outer deltoid head that give you more “capped” shoulders, and a more profound “V-taper” look (i.e. a high shoulder-to-waist ratio). It’s a compound exercise that works your shoulders (anterior deltoid as primary muscle and lateral deltoid as secondary), and also triceps and upper traps. The dumbbell variation of the overhead press is very popular, and is a great addition to most training programs. The advantage of performing the dumbbell version is the unilateral nature of using two independent loads (the dumbbells), instead of one (a barbell or machine). Using the dumbbells ensures each side of the body is receiving equal loads, and recruits additional stabilising muscles during the lift.

Also Known As: Overhead Shoulder Press, Overhead Dumbbell Press, Shoulder Press

Front Shoulder

Targeted Muscle: Front Shoulder / Deltoid (Deltoid, Anterior)

Other Muscle(s):  Middle head of deltoid (Deltoid, Lateral), triceps (Triceps Brachii) and upper traps (Trapezius, Middle).

Mechanics: Compound

Force: Push


Instructions for doing dumbbell Shoulder Press:

  1. Select dumbbells of a suitable weight
  2. Sit on a military press bench or utility bench that has back support. Place the dumbbells upright on top of your thighs.
  3. Use your thighs to help you raise the dumbbells to shoulder height on each side
  4. Twist your wrists so that the palms are facing forward.
  5. Elbows should be in your shoulder line with 90-10 degree variation in elbow end. This is your starting position.
  6. Now, slowly raise the dumbbells above your head and slightly outward until your arms are almost fully extended with a breathe out.
  7. After a short pause at the top contracted position, slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position while breathing in; at around ear height.
  8. Repeat this movement for desired reps.


  • This exercise varies slightly from the shoulder press in the angle that you push the weight. Focus on keeping the weights out away from your body rather than pushing them straight above your head.
  • Always use the longest range of motion possible and control the dumbbells throughout the set.


  • Focus on using correct form rather than add weight too quickly. This will at times result in an injury and could hinder your shoulder gains.
  • Use slow and controlled movement – avoid “swinging” the weights up and dropping them quickly.


  • The exercise can be performed seated or standing.
    1. The seated version has the benefit of eliminating lower body movement during the lift
    2. The standing version requires greater core and hip stabilisation
  • Another variation is Arnold Press. However, it is not recommended if you have rotator cuff problems.


  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 12, 12, 10, 10

Good luck… Stay fit… Stay safe… and let the fitness rocks…

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