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Arnold Press

May 16, 2023 | Joel Runyon

The Arnold Press is named after…you guessed it…THE Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you want to bulk up your shoulders by targeting most of the muscles within it, this is a lift that will help you do it. 

Because this lift requires a lot of time under tension, you don’t actually have to go very heavy to achieve the stimulus you’re looking for. We recommend choosing a light weight until you feel very comfortable with the movement. 

How to do the Arnold Press

To begin: choose a pair of dumbbells at a weight that feels comfortable for you. Start sitting down with your feet flat on the floor and with one dumbbell in each hand. Your elbows are bent and palms face in toward your body about the same height as your shoulders. The position should look similar to the top position of a bicep curl. 

As you press up, the dumbbells rotate out into the normal pressing position (palms facing out now) until your arms are locked out overhead. The dumbbells rotate as you press up – not before. This rotation is what targets all the muscles in your shoulder. 

Once you’ve reached the top, control the movement back down into the starting position – palms facing in towards the body. That is one rep.

Arnold Press Variations

Once you’ve mastered the seated version of this lift, you can do it standing as well to work some back muscles. You can also use kettlebells for this movement.

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Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® and MoveWell. In addition to free fitness resources on Impossible Fitness - you can buy performance apparel and supplements on