How To Do Arnold Press

Basic Introduction:

A tree in a forest

The Arnold Press is a weightlifting move that is named after Schwarzenegger. It is a shoulder press that is done with weight. It is an isolation move that requires continuous tension, unlike other Shoulder Presses. The Arnold press should be done in front of the head if you are using overhead presses or behind the head like traditional military presses.

How To Do The Arnold Press?

Clouds in a blue cloudy sky

Start by sitting on the bench with the back firmly against the bench back. Hold dumbbells to shoulder while feet flat on the floor at shoulder’s width apart. (Palms facing each other). Your elbows should be inside your knees and about 1 foot under the knee caps.

Bend your arms to 90 degrees while pushing out your elbow pits, keep this angle throughout the movement; raise both dumbbells above forehead level; rotate hands so palms face forward without swinging weight down, then slowly reverse the motion. This is one repetition. These four steps should be done in a continuous, controlled fashion to get maximum benefits from this exercise.

Position And Grip:

Sit on the bench with your head facing forward and feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells just outside your shoulders, palms facing each other. Raise them until they are over your forehead. Slowly lower them back to the starting position while keeping your elbows inside of your knees and about a foot under the knee caps throughout all phases of this movement.

If you fail to keep these conditions while doing an overhead press, it will develop infraspinatus muscles instead of deltoids, so try to avoid this at all costs.


Push out your elbows so they are inside of your knees and about a foot under the knee cap. Keeping this elbow position, push up with both arms to raise dumbbells above your head. Rotate hands so that palms face forward without lowering the dumbbells down before doing this rotation.

Slowly reverse the motion by bringing the weight back down in a controlled manner to the starting position. The four steps described earlier should be done continuously for maximum benefit. The two pictures on left show an incorrect execution while the one on right shows a proper execution.


The easiest way to make this exercise easier is to use a lighter weight or to use a single-arm press. To make the exercise more difficult, add a movement such as a forward raise while pressing up. This will work your front deltoid muscles.

How Does It Benefit?

This is a great exercise that can be used during shoulder day or chest day. This is because it works both the shoulder and the chest muscles which allow you to increase poundage by increasing repetitions without increasing poundage (assuming you are using proper form).

Also, this exercise allows you to use a lighter weight than normal while hitting your muscle fibers with constant tension throughout all phases of the lift. It is also useful for developing weak points in your deltoids like the outer aspect of the shoulders, which is useful for bodybuilding.

Extra Tips:

In Arnold’s words “Don’t swing the weight to get momentum”. In other words, don’t use a cheat motion to get more repetition out of it. This exercise can be done using dumbbells or weighted plates depending on your training goals. Both variations are great if you want to hit different muscle fibers in your deltoids and chest muscles.

Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter
Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter