A Twist On The Arnold Press For Big Bench Gains

Cory Gregory
Written By: Cory Gregory
February 6th, 2015
Updated: December 17th, 2020
Categories: Articles Training
118.2K Reads
Muscular man doing a shoulder press in the gym
Fitness expert trainer Cory Gregory explains how easily tweaking the legendary Arnold Press can lead to a bigger bench press.

Of all the reasons Arnold Schwarzenegger is considered a legend – and there are certainly many – the Arnold Press, a shoulder exercise named after the Austrian Oak, is one that every gym rat has performed. As a guy who has loved the gym for as long as I can remember, that’s a definite sign of continued legacy.

Since then, most all of us have performed this exercise, enjoying the benefits this unique movement & the results it gives you.

In most cases, the lifter instantly feels the stability of the innovative move and how it basically works the entire shoulder, making it one of the most complete shoulder movements around. Arnold was a huge fan of the total shoulder development it provided, giving a huge burn to a lot of hard to hit areas.


A video posted by cory gregory (@musclepharmpres) on

As far as building shoulder mass and development it has been one of my go-to movements and I made it a major part of my shoulder workout for years at my hardcore gym, Old School Gym in the Columbus, OH area.

But almost by accident I found an amazing tweak and twist on the Arnold Press, and it gave me an impressive exercise to help build a bigger bench press.

For anyone struggling with getting their own bench press up – whether in competition or just in the gym – implementing what I’m about to tell you may just be the key to your own bench press blast-off.

One day I was waiting to use the 90-degree bench for my set, but it was in use so I jumped on the incline bench and went to work on my set. Instantly, I knew I had found a winner. It felt sick and I was blown away with the effect it had on pretty much my entire upper body.
By rotating the dumbbells down in the hole (at the bottom most part of the movement), it really loaded up my lats, triceps, shoulders and pecs to an explosive position. It engaged all of them and really made all of those muscles work, making it very similar to a paused bench press in a competition.

While I was competing in powerlifting, I became almost obsessed with this movement, as its benefits were immense. In my mind, I had found my own golden ticket when it came to the perfect accessory movement to boosting my bench press. I eventually worked up to an impressive six reps using 115-pound dumbbells and the carry-over has been huge.

For your own benefit, I suggest 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, using it on your bench day after your bench press if your goals are more powerlifting related and throwing it in on shoulder day if your goals are centered around bodybuilding.

Ultimately I was able to bench press around 400 pounds raw – double my bodyweight – and 500 in a bench shirt, and I attribute a great deal of that improvement to the Arnold Press tweak and simply doing it on an incline bench.

The reasoning behind why it helped was evident to me. The stability this movement gave my shoulders, pecs, triceps and upper back was remarkable and my pop out of the hole – usually a weakness for a raw lifter – increased significantly.

Well fast forward a little bit and I feel like I almost owe Arnold an apology because I pretty much forgot about the exercise until recently.

I threw it back into my rotation and it was like an old friend had returned. I rediscovered the move, why I loved it and why I believe it is so integral for anyone looking to build a bigger bench.

So thanks, Arnold, for having the intuition to create such a powerful movement and I can only hope you guys like my tweak to this already legendary exercise.

Want to train like Arnold? Check out Arnold Schwarzenegger Workouts here on M&S.

Posted on: Tue, 02/24/2015 - 19:41

Learned this move from sangi Kaliv on body beast! Deffinetly a move that should be in your arsenal!!!

Posted on: Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:29

Arnold press is for shoulders right?

Posted on: Tue, 02/17/2015 - 13:29

This is interesting. Doing to have a crack at this on my next chest day. I started doing pullovers again for the first time in ages after reading your other article. Keep them coming, good to help mix up my routine.

Posted on: Sat, 02/07/2015 - 07:31

Definitely going to give this a try. Chest day tomorrow!

Posted on: Fri, 02/06/2015 - 23:22

hey thanks for this. I'm deff going to give this a try cuz my Bench suck and I've been struggling to get pass 275 for sometime now. My current goal is 315lbs. Besides this unique accessory exercise can you give me a little more guidance on how to reach my goal of 315 on the bench? For example reps/ sets/ how heavy/ other assistance exercise that will help in getting me strong on the bench, an when to increase the weight. I would really appreciate a response if you have the time. Thanks