Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Traps, Triceps
Target Muscle Group


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Seated Arnold Press Overview

The seated Arnold press is a variation of the seated dumbbell press and an exercise utilized to build shoulder muscle size and strength.

The Arnold press, named after Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, is an exercise used to target every single head of the deltoid.

The exercise is best used by those seeking aesthetic benefits due to its long time under tension, but can also be used as an accessory movement by those attempting to build strength.

Seated Arnold Press Instructions

  1. Set up an adjustable angle bench to 90 degrees and select the desired weight from the rack.
  2. Pick up the dumbbells from the floor using a neutral grip (palms facing in). Position the end of the dumbbells on your knees and sit down on the bench.
  3. Using a safe and controlled motion, kick your knees up one at a time in order to get each dumbbell into place.
  4. Once the dumbbells are in place, rotate your palms so they are facing you.
  5. Take a deep breath then press the dumbbells overhead by extending the elbows and contracting the deltoids.
  6. As you press, rotate the dumbbells until your palms are facing forward.
  7. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position (the arms should be roughly 90 degrees or slightly lower depending upon limb lengths).
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Seated Arnold Press Tips

  1. Keep your back flat against the pad throughout the duration of the exercise.
  2. Don’t allow the head to jut forward excessively.
  3. Drive the bicep to the ear and exhale as you press.
  4. If you sense any pressure in your neck or traps during the movement, look to address a lack of thoracic spine extension or shoulder flexion.
  5. Keeping the elbows slightly bent at the top and not locking out entirely will help to keep tension on the shoulders.
  6. If you can’t lock out the elbows overhead than it may indicate a lack of shoulder mobility due to poor scapular upward rotation.
Matthew Johnson
Posted on: Sat, 02/03/2024 - 12:58

Should I keep the weight just going up and down keeping my elbows in? Or let my elbows flare some(or a lot?) like a military press?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/14/2024 - 05:38

The elbows can come out a bit, but don't feel like you have to exaggerate it. It should feel like a natural motion when you do it.

Posted on: Thu, 09/10/2020 - 22:13

I don't have a bench that inclines, could I sub these Arnold Presses for something like a Dumbbell Fly?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 09/25/2020 - 16:27

Hey John - while the instructions above say you need an adjustable bench set to 90 degrees, you don't need one. You can sit straight up on the bench and perform the movement like the video shows. Just make sure you're properly bracing your abs to avoid arching your back.

Posted on: Thu, 01/08/2015 - 02:50

I am 5 foot 6 inches 130 pounds as well, I am state place wrestler 3rd and I bench close to 225 military press 135 and squat 260 and deadlift 260. I love the workouts on this site I have only been lifting for a month or two

Posted on: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 13:30

You want to gain then eat about 3000 cals a day.

Posted on: Sat, 04/03/2021 - 06:44

What kinds of food please?

Posted on: Sat, 02/09/2013 - 15:41

I love these exercises and they work great.
You see I am rather short at 5ft 6 and I weigh only 130. For years people judged my strength based on my size and looks, and for yrs I had to prove them wrong. Though I am not super strong I am extremely fit for my size and have awards to prove it. But I wanted to be a bit bigger. Nothing crazy just more mass instead of lean muscle that people only noticed at the pool.
So for years I tried and got no results. But thanks to this sight I am seeing some improvement though it's hard as hell for me. Guess it's just my body and I rarely get the nutrients I need some times.
But in short thanks for these posts they really help and r nice to have.

Posted on: Sun, 11/04/2012 - 15:41

is there an alternative to this exercise?

Posted on: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 18:06

Dumbell shoulder press. Much more easier and simpler than this