How to Master Arnold Press and Build Big Shoulders?

The Arnold press is a shoulder exercise invented by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Image via Pexels @Alesia Kozik)
The Arnold press is a shoulder exercise invented by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Image via Pexels @Alesia Kozik)

The Arnold Press should be an important part of a comprehensive shoulder workout routine.

Arnold Press is a shoulder press named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is characterized by a wrist rotation that ends when your palms face forward at the top of the press. It works the triceps, trapezius, and delts, three of the most important muscle groups in your upper body.

Arnold Press is an all-around shoulder-building exercise. Unlike the lateral raise, the military press, and the overhead press, the Arnold press works all three of your shoulder's deltoid muscles (the posterior, lateral, and anterior deltoids).

How to do the Arnold Press

For the Arnold press, start with a weight you can control for two to three sets of eight to twelve reps. Choose a weight that lets you keep good form throughout all of the sets and reps.

Here's how you can do the Arnold Press.

1) Take two dumbbells and stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Your shoulders should be right over your hips, and your head and neck should be in a neutral position. As if you were holding an egg under your chin, your chin should stay tucked in the whole time. Spread your weight out evenly across both feet. Grip the floor with your feet to keep them in place.

2) Hold the dumbbells just above your shoulders with your palms facing your body and your upper arms close to your ribcage. Your elbows should be facing the ground. This is where all repetitions should start.

3) Make sure your shoulders and hips are already tight, and engage your core.

4) Start the upward movement by moving your elbows out wide and away from your body. Keep your back straight and your wrists in a neutral position. As soon as your palms face forward, press the dumbbells up over your head. This should happen in a single, smooth move. As you press the dumbbells up, your shoulder blades should move naturally with your shoulder joint.


5) At the top of the move, your arms should be long and your elbows should be slightly bent. You should have your palms facing forward. At the top, stop for a second and keep the space between the dumbbells.

6) Begin the descent by bending your elbows and pulling with your lats. Turn your arms so that the palms face your body. This should happen all at once, and your upper arms should go back to where they started, close to your ribcage. Start the next repetition from where you are now.

Remember that the abovementioned press is a more advanced version of the shoulder press. To keep from hurting your shoulder, use the right form, especially when lifting heavy weights. If the exercise causes pain in your shoulder, consult your doctor or a certified personal trainer before continuing.


Variation: Seated Arnold Press

The standing Arnold press works all three parts of your shoulders, as well as a number of your back's stabilising muscles. This is one reason why it is such a good exercise. Sitting Arnold Press doesn't have the same benefits, but sitting on a bench can help you make sure you have good form, which can make your shoulder muscles work even harder. Make sure your back is flat against an exercise bench the whole time so that your arms and shoulders do all the work.

Alternative: Dumbbell Overhead Press

The Arnold press is great because it works so many different shoulder muscles. However, because it requires rotation, it can be riskier to do than a regular press if you have any shoulder problems. If you've recently hurt your shoulder or just started working out, you can try this variation. If you're worried about the Arnold press hurting your shoulders, the dumbbell overhead press is a good alternative.


Hold the dumbbells by your shoulders with your palms facing forward, your upper arms pointing out to the sides, and your elbows bent at a 90° angle. Press the weights up, then bring them back down. If you don't turn, you can also lift a little more weight than Arnold's variation.

Safety and Precautions

If you already have a health problem, you should talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Proper exercise techniques are important to ensure an exercise program is safe and effective, but you may need to change each exercise to get the best results based on your own needs.

Always choose a weight that gives you full control over your body during the move. Pay close attention to your body when you work out, and stop right away if you feel pain or discomfort.

To keep making progress and get stronger, make sure your exercise program includes the right warm-ups, rest, and food. In the end, your results will depend on how well you can recover from your workouts. Rest the same muscle groups for 24 to 48 hours before working them out again to give them enough time to recover.

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Edited by Babylona Bora