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


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Seated Dumbbell Press Overview

The seated dumbbell press is a variation of the standing dumbbell press and an exercise used to strengthen the muscles of the shoulders.

The overhead press is a foundational movement for establishing baseline strength and building a completely balanced physique.

Utilizing dumbbells as opposed to performing with a barbell will allow the individual to strengthen each side of the muscle equally.

The exercise can be included in shoulder workouts, push workouts, upper body workouts, and full body workouts.

Seated Dumbbell 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 forward.
  5. Take a deep breath then press the dumbbells overhead by extending the elbows and contracting the deltoids.
  6. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position (the arms should be roughly 90 degrees or slightly lower depending upon limb lengths).
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Seated Dumbbell 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.
Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2024 - 21:07

Is it good to hold the dumbbells above the head for a few seconds then slowly descend?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:21

It can be, Miles. I only suggest not locking out the elbows. I like holding them up for a three count and lowering them to a five count.

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2023 - 20:35

What is the difference between this exercise and the tilted dumbbell press? They look the same to me? Ty!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/22/2023 - 16:42

Tilted dumbbell press has the back of the bench a little further back. Seated is more upright. Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 12/04/2022 - 18:38

This is not correct form for shoulder press....you do not tap the dumbbells at the top

Renaldy Hosea
Posted on: Fri, 04/08/2022 - 02:27

I have a shoulder dislocation. What other exercises can i do apart from it?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/20/2022 - 19:54

Go see a doctor about it, and follow the recommendations that are made by the physician. A dislocation should be addressed instead of trying to train around it.

Posted on: Sun, 01/24/2021 - 12:39

I have a torn rotator cuff and find it difficult to use single dumbbells with that arm, barbells or machines are better...recommendations for a replacement exercise.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/25/2021 - 09:54

Hey Dee - possibly a barbell shoulder press?

kunal gandhi
Posted on: Sun, 08/16/2020 - 10:37

I don't have bench at home.
I just have pair of dumbbell of 6kg weight each.
So can I do dumbbell press sitting on a chair or side of my bed.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/19/2020 - 10:12

Hey Kunal

I'd recommend a char over the side of your bed. You'll want something stable that you won't be wobbling around on.

cristiana araujo
Posted on: Wed, 12/04/2019 - 07:53

Can you tell me how much weight should I use?
I m a beginner, never done exercise.

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:03

Go light. If it's easy, go up to the next weight

Posted on: Mon, 08/14/2017 - 08:19

I was doing this exercise and I was unaware that your back must be flat and my back was arched instead. After finishing the set I got up and I felt pain in my mid/upper spine. What do I do now? Please help!

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:05

Use a lighter weight so that your back is flat against the back of the bench. Once you master that, go up in weight

Posted on: Fri, 01/30/2015 - 20:06

I started two weeks ago lost 9 pounds, And all in the right places, I like it. I love it , I wont some more of it,

Aunty Zen
Posted on: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:31

@ Taylor - you need to loosen your tie a little.

Posted on: Mon, 04/07/2014 - 22:52

Ok so i was wondering if you had to do all these workouts on Monday, Tuesday and Friday can you do it on different days of the week?

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:06

Yes. Just make sure you have a day off in between your workout days

Posted on: Mon, 03/03/2014 - 07:46

If you can't control the movement 100% lower the weight until you can. No sense in lifting heavy with incorrect form. You'll just end up hurting yourself.

Posted on: Wed, 01/15/2014 - 18:31

For some reason I feel a lot of tension in the back of my neck where it connects to my skull during this excersize. Am I doing something wrong?

Posted on: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 07:48

very intense! should this work traps/biceps/triceps? I do feel it my shoulders only but very strong! :)

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:07


Posted on: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 07:26

I`m 15 years old,so is it advisable for me to follow this workout?what should i do,i really need to broaden my shoulders.

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:09

Yes, this workout is fine for you. Just remember to use light weights. Once you have the light weights under control for the full set & rep ranges, you can then go up to the next weight. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time. It will be worth it

Adam Haze
Posted on: Fri, 03/29/2013 - 02:08

I want to start doing this, but the problem is my shoulders are not very flexible at all. Even naturally, without holding any weight, my shoulder sort of hurt when I do this motion because they feel like they're being spread open too far. Can I do this exercise but with my arm points a little bit more toward the wall in front of me??

Posted on: Wed, 02/13/2013 - 19:21

aint nothing like a peanut buddy

Pete Nixon
Posted on: Fri, 01/04/2013 - 03:45

Damnit! I pulled my left forearm by increasing weight too quickly and letting my form get sloppy. Any advice on how long/what I can do to rest a pulled left forearm? I think my hands bent too far back as I was lifting. Any advice too on correct wrist posture When lifting? are wrist suppoets necessary for an amateur on lifting 12/14kg dumbells? Thanks as always for great site.

Cameron D
Posted on: Wed, 05/08/2013 - 10:09

Worst thing you can do is lift too much too fast, make sure your body and arms can maintain the weights properly, you've probably healed but if it happens again, heat should help relax the muscle, DO NOT use cold or iceyhot type stuff, that will make your injury worse. If your weights feel to heavy move down a peg, if you want to lift heavy weights and are able to at short reps, use light weights and do warm up sets, enough to get your body prepared for the motion, but not enough to wear you out too much.

Posted on: Thu, 01/03/2013 - 08:26

Should my elbows be pointed out to the sides while doing this?

Posted on: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:38

i am doing dough's 5 day workout and i like to know what pounds to use for the dumbbell press. my current weight is 174 and height is 5'6"
thank you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 11:37

The idea is to use a weight where you struggle to complete the recommended rep range. Once your'e able to complete all the reps prescribed, it's time to move up in weight.

Posted on: Tue, 11/27/2012 - 22:26

How long should I wait in between sets?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 11/29/2012 - 19:32

It depends on your rep range for each set. If you're lifting heavy and keeping in the 3-5 rep range, 2-5 minutes is a good rest period. If you're lifting in the 8-12 range, 90 to 120 seconds is appropriate.

Posted on: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 05:16


Posted on: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 06:56

works fo me AS WELL REAL GAINS

Posted on: Tue, 08/21/2012 - 20:59

I am working shoulders tomorrow and I am adding this one to the mix!