How to Do Arnold Press | 3 Easy Steps for Better Back and Shoulders

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Correctly doing the Arnold press exercise can make your shoulders strong and sculpted. It can also improve your back muscles and develop your core stability. Read on to learn how to do Arnold press the right way.

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How to Do Arnold Press for Sexy Back and Shoulder Muscles

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About the Arnold Press

Slim Young Woman Doing Exercise with Dumbbells | How to Do Arnold Press

The Arnold press was created by–yes, you guessed it right–no other than the iconic movie star, bodybuilder, and the big man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding days, he combined two weight-training exercises: the overhead press and the bicep curl. This combination is what we now know as the Arnold press.

Arnold Press Muscles Worked

This workout focuses on your whole shoulder muscle. It can also push your upper back, biceps, and core to the fullest potential.

Unlike other shoulder exercises, the Arnold press is unique in the sense that it hits all three parts of your deltoid muscles, namely:

  • Anterior deltoids
  • Lateral deltoids
  • Posterior deltoids

Doing the Arnold press alone can work out several muscles in your body.

How to Do Arnold Press

Step 1: Hold a Pair of Dumbbells

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Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Keep your back straight, squeeze your glutes, and engage your core.

In each hand, hold a dumbbell.


Bend your arms as if you are about to do a biceps curl. Keep your arms close to your body. The dumbbells must be at shoulder level, and your palms should be facing you.

Step 2: Spread Your Arms to Each Side

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Before you push your arms straight up, bring your elbows out to each side, twisting your arms.

Now, your palms must face forward or away from you. Your arms should be parallel to the floor.

Keep your elbows bent, forming an almost 90-degree angle to ensure tension on your shoulders before lifting the dumbbells.

Step 3: Press Your Arms Up

Muscular Bodybuilder Doing Triceps Extension Exercise | How to Do Arnold Press

For the final position, extend your arms overhead. Reach as high as you can until your arms are straight. Your biceps must end close to your ears.

Pause at the top.

Then, return to your starting position using the same rotation in a controlled motion.

Make it your goal to execute 10 to 12 reps per set and finish three sets with a 30-second rest period between groups.

Pro Tip: Do not break your workout into two separate movements. Perform the whole exercise in one fluid motion.

Arnold Press Form Tips

Attractive Woman and a Personal Trainer with Dumbbell | How to Do Arnold Press Form Tips

One challenge is selecting the right weight for your dumbbells when executing the Arnold press.

Since the Arnold press focuses on your shoulders, you may want to start with light dumbbells, especially for starters, to prevent any injuries.

After all, the Arnold press usually has light weights and more reps.

Once you have become used to the weight and mastered the correct form, you may move up your dumbbells to a few pounds. Just be sure that you can still do the Arnold press properly.

Additionally, keep in mind to execute this workout very slowly.

Remember to focus on the time under tension (TUT) to strengthen your muscles. TUT refers to how long you hold your muscles under strain or pressure.

The slower your muscles move, the more time you hold them under tension, and the better results you can get.

RELATED: Weight Training For Men Over 50 | What You Need To Know

How to Do Arnold Press Variations

If you enjoy doing the Arnold press, you will probably have fun doing its variations!

Seated Arnold Press Exercise

Unlike the standing Arnold press, the seated variation may not target the stabilizing muscles in your back. But sitting on a bench can help you achieve good form.

Ensure that your back is flat throughout the workout to ensure that your shoulders and arms do all the work.

  • Sit on a bench.
  • Hold the dumbbells in front of you. They must be at the same level as your ears. Your palms should be facing your shoulders.
  • Press the dumbbells overhead, rotating them 180 degrees.
  • Extend your arms. Your palms must now face forward.
  • Pause at the top, then slowly lower the dumbbells down, reversing the movement.

Dumbbell Overhead Arnold Press Exercise

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As we have mentioned earlier, the good thing about the Arnold press is that it hits various muscle groups in your body.

However, it is a risker workout than a standard press since it requires rotations.

So if you worry about having a shoulder injury from the Arnold press, you may perform a dumbbell overhead press instead.

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells and raise them to shoulder length.
  • Bend your arms to a 90-degree angle. Your palms must be facing forward.
  • Press the dumbbells above your head without rotating your wrists.
  • Then, lower the dumbbells back to your starting position.

Single-Arm Kettlebell Arnold Press Exercise

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It is best to execute this Arnold press variation when standing.

However, the biggest challenge in doing this workout is the amount of stability it requires.

  • Hold a kettlebell in one hand, and start in a proper rack position. Your elbows must point straight ahead.
  • You may extend your other arm to your side to help you balance your body.
  • Push the kettlebell above your head, making a 180-degree rotation.

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Arnold Press Exercise

This Arnold press variation is ideal for building strength and balance. Also, it targets your core since this exercise is in a half-kneeling position.

  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand.
  • Go to a half-kneeling position.
  • If you are holding the dumbbell in your right arm, you should also kneel on your right knee.
  • The dumbbell must be shoulder length, and your palms should face you.
  • Keep your spine neutral.
  • Then, push the dumbbell above your head, following the rotation of the Arnold press.

Arnold Press Exercise Form

Check out this video by Buff Dudes  to learn about the correct Arnold Press Form:

Knowing how to do the Arnold press can make your shoulders broad and muscular. It can give you the best results while preventing potential injuries when executed correctly.

However, keep in mind that achieving toned and strong shoulders are not possible overnight. You have to work out consistently, be disciplined in your diet, and stay dedicated to your goal.

Which of these Arnold press variations do you prefer the most?

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What other Arnold press exercise do you know? Which one do you usually add to your workout routine? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

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