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A great way to sculpt your upper body is by working out your shoulders. One of the best exercises to build and strengthen the front deltoids, as well as the lateral and posterior deltoids is the Arnold press. Read on to learn the differences between the Arnold press and the shoulder press, the benefits and mistakes associated with the Arnold press, and the correct form to perform the Arnold press. Check out ideas for a shoulder workout and watch the video on how to do Arnold Presses.

arnold press works what muscles

The shoulder has several muscles that attach to the scapula, humerus, and clavicle. The largest shoulder muscle is the deltoid, which consists of the anterior, middle, and posterior fibers, giving the shoulder that nice rounded look. The supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis are some of the muscles that form the rotator cuff and are vital in the dynamics of shoulder movement.

The shoulder area is one of the most mobile spheres in the body, allowing for a wide range of motion – rotation, abduction, and adduction. Simultaneously, this versatility makes the shoulder area more prone to injury.

The Arnold Press

The Arnold press is a variation of the dumbbell shoulder press. This exercise was created by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s a bodybuilding icon who revolutionized the sport and won seven Mr. Olympia titles. Schwarzenegger adjusted the traditional shoulder press and created a fabulous new exercise. So if you admire his shoulders, you should incorporate this movement into your shoulder routine.

What Muscles Does the Arnold Press Work?

The Arnold press is a wonderful exercise since it stimulates numerous muscles. It works all three areas of the deltoid muscles:

  • anterior (front) deltoid
  • lateral (outer) deltoid
  • posterior (rear) deltoid

Arnold presses, also, engage various secondary muscles:

  • trapezius
  • triceps
  • upper chest
  • biceps
  • forearms

Differences Between the Shoulder Press and the Arnold Presses

The Arnold press has some differences from the dumbbell shoulder press:

  • In the Arnold press, the movement starts with your palms facing your body whereas, in the shoulder press, your palms face away from your body
  • In the shoulder press, you bend your elbows and raise your upper arms to shoulder height at a 90-degree angle so the dumbbells are at ear level. In the Arnold press, the arms are not flared out to the side of your body but in front of you – a little bit higher than at the top of a bicep curl
  • The Arnold press involves a twisting of the hands at the top of the movement. This is not the case for the shoulder press
  • Furthermore, the Arnold press stimulates more muscles than the shoulder press. Besides the anterior and lateral deltoids, it engages more the rear delts. It has the added benefit of secondarily stimulating the biceps and forearms

Benefits of Arnold Presses

  • Strength: Arnold presses increase upper body strength, facilitating the performance of other movements such as chin-ups, deadlifts, rows, as well as other shoulder exercises
  • Aesthetics: They help sculpt fuller, more defined shoulders and a beautiful upper body
  • Stability: Arnold presses help to improve shoulder joint stability since they work all three heads of the deltoids
  • Efficiency: The Arnold press is a compound move that works multiple joints and muscles simultaneously, making it highly efficient
  • Fat Loss: Since multiple muscles are involved in the movement, you burn more calories
  • Posture: Working the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, as well as the stabilizer muscles, helps draw back the shoulders. This allows you to maintain a more upright posture
  • Greater Range of Motion (ROM): The Arnold press involves a greater range of motion, which improves performance and flexibility
  • Endurance: The twisting motion and the greater ROM of the exercise keep the muscles under tension for a greater amount of time, increasing muscle fiber endurance

How to Do The Arnold Press

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells in each hand and plant your feet solidly
  • Stand with your back straight, core tight, and shoulders back
  • Place your dumbbells in front of your shoulders, with your arms bent, and your palms facing your body – Similar to the position of your arms during the concentric phase of a bicep curl (weights at the top) but the weights are closer to the chin than to the chest
  • Start pressing your arms up and slowly twist your hands/wrists (thumbs turning inward) to rotate the weight 180 degrees. So, at the top of the movement, your palms face away from your body
  • Hold the weight at the peak for a second or two
  • As you reach full extension, your arms should be stretched out and your biceps close to your ears
  • Slowly bring the weight down, and rotate your hands back to the starting position with your palms facing you
  • Pause at the bottom for another second
  • Repeat 8-12 times

🛑 It is advisable to perform the Arnold press seating down (seated Arnold press) if you have lower-back problems or if you are a beginner. Feel free to use a chair or bench to support your back.

🛑 If you have any shoulder injuries, it is best to stick with the regular shoulder press. Sometimes, the twisting movement of the Arnold press can put too much stress on an irritated shoulder joint. This can increase your risk of shoulder impingement, which is when the rotator cuff rubs against the humerus. This causes pain, swelling, pain, and reduced mobility.

Arnold Press Mistakes

  • Flaring out your elbows: Avoid flaring out the elbows – Otherwise, it’s more of a standard shoulder press, which mainly focuses on the middle deltoids and not much on the anterior and rear delts
  • Shrugging: Avoid shrugging while performing the exercise – This over-emphasizes the traps and doesn’t allow you to properly perform the exercise. Your shoulder blades should be down and back.
  • Rounding Your Back: Avoid rounding your lower back. This excessive arching can hurt your back and may indicate that the weights are too heavy. Keep your back straight and use a weight that allows for proper movement mechanics.
  • Pushing Up Fast: Avoid pressing too fast since this keeps the muscles under tension for a shorter period. You should control the weights and perform the exercise in a controlled fashion

Video: Arnold Presses

Shoulder Workout

You can complete your shoulder workout by performing the following exercises:

As you can see the Arnold press is a wonderful shoulder exercise. It offers tremendous benefits associated with hypertrophy, strength, endurance, and aesthetics. Now that you know how to properly perform Arnold presses, you can avoid the most common mistakes and enjoy their benefits. Remember, whether you want to lose weight, tone your body, or gain strength or size, all muscles must be trained.

Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, and Live Healthier!

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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