Dumbbell Shoulder Press

muscles during dumbbell shoulder press

Seated (standing) dumbbell shoulder press is a basic (multi-joint) exercise intended to work out the muscles of the shoulder girdle. Mainly the load in this exercise falls on the front and medial deltas. In addition, the triceps and, to a small extent, the upper pectoral muscles work in the exercise. Since the dumbbell press is a basic exercise for building shoulders, it should be performed at the beginning of the shoulder workout.

Varieties and technique of dumbbell shoulder press

There are not so many varieties of dumbbell shoulder press. The exercise can be performed either sitting or standing.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the types and analyze the technique.

Seated dumbbell shoulder press

seated dumbbell shoulder press

The exercise is performed in the same way as seated barbell shoulder press using the bench with an angle of 90 degrees. Starting position: sit on a bench, rest your feet on the floor, take dumbbells in your hands, and with dumbbells in your hands, rest your shoulder blades against the back of the bench. Keep your back in the starting position and throughout the exercise straight and slightly bent at the lower back.

From the starting position, begin to smoothly squeeze the dumbbells until your arms are straightened. Hands at the top point of the amplitude should be left slightly bent at the elbows in order to relieve the load from the elbow joints. Then lower the dumbbells to the starting position. The correct technique of performing dumbbell shoulder press while sitting is in the gif below.

gif of seated dumbbell shoulder press

Seated dumbbell shoulder press has a number of differences compared to barbell shoulder press. Firstly, the medial deltoids get more load than during seated shoulder press with the bar. This is due to the fact that the elbows are slightly less forward. Secondly, with dumbbells, the range of motion will be greater than with a barbell. Accordingly, deltoids will receive greater stretching and stress, and there will be more preconditions for their growth.

Thirdly, when performing shoulder press with dumbbells, much more stabilizer muscles work, respectively, the neuromuscular connection (brain-nervous system-muscles) improves. But, there is also a disadvantage compared to the barbell. It consists in the fact that the working weight with dumbbells will be less than with a barbell. Accordingly, to build up the total muscle mass of the shoulder girdle, barbell shoulder press is better suited for beginners.

Standing dumbbell shoulder press

standing dumbbell shoulder press

The technique and work of muscles are absolutely the same as during seated dumbbell shoulder press. The only difference is that you are standing while doing the exercise. Accordingly, this increases the load on the lower back, and significantly complicates the starting position, especially if you are working with heavy dumbbells. In addition, when performing the exercise while standing, athletes often cheat, throwing dumbbells in the upper position with their back and legs. The correct technique of performing standing dumbbell shoulder press is in the gif below.

gif of standing dumbbell shoulder press

Both of these variations can also be performed with kettlebells, which will further complicate the exercise and involve even more stabilizer muscles in the work.

Tips on performing dumbbell shoulder press

1) Warm up your muscles well before doing the exercise. Since shoulder press is most often the first exercise during shoulder workout.

2) Perform the exercise smoothly, without jerking, following the correct technique. Do not swing the body or pull the body or pelvis forward.

3) Do not hold your breath while doing the exercise. Lower the dumbbells as you inhale, and press as you exhale.

4) Alternate the exercise with dumbbells and a barbell. That is, do one shoulder workout with a barbell, another with dumbbells. This will help to work out the deltas better and shock them every time, creating positive preconditions for their growth.

5) At the top point of the amplitude, do not knock with dumbbells against each other, so as not to create inertia. When the dumbbells strike, inertia is created, which springs the dumbbells from each other, at this moment the muscles relax. This can be compared to the moment when you throw the barbell on your chest during bench press, and it springs upwards by inertia. Therefore, do not knock with dumbbells so that the muscles are in constant tension and control movement.

6) When working with heavy dumbbells, use the help of a partner. This will make it much easier for you to take your starting position at the beginning of each set.

Perfect technique of performing dumbbell shoulder press (video)

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