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Overhead Dumbbell Press

About The Overhead Dumbbell Press

If you only have time for one shoulder exercise – the overhead dumbbell press is it. No other exercise even compares to the overhead dumbbell press when it comes to targeting the shoulders and stimulating the development of lean muscle. The overhead dumbbell press is classified as a compound, multi-joint movement. These types of exercises generally trigger a greater anabolic hormone response, which is beneficial for both muscle gain and fat loss.

Overhead Dumbbell Press Video

Overhead Dumbbell Press Steps

  1. Select appropriately weighted dumbbells, sit on an upright bench and rest the weights on your thighs.
  2. Initiate movement by kicking up one weight at a time to provide assistance in getting the weights up to starting position. Starting position has your arms at a 90 degree angle with wrists in alignment with your elbows.
  3. Exhale, extend your arms and drive the weights overhead. The finishing phase of the exercise has the weights making slight contact.
  4. Inhale and lower the weights back to the original starting position which has your arms at a 90 degree angle with your wrist and elbow aligned.
  5. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions are completed.

Overhead Dumbbell Press Variations

Performing the overhead dumbbell press while standing instead of sitting on the upright bench is slightly more functional in the sense that it mimics day-to-day movements. This version also requires more stability so additional muscles – particularly those of the core – are recruited.

Arnold Shoulder Press

About The Arnold Shoulder Press

Current governor and six time Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwarzengger, used this variation of the shoulder press while training for his bodybuilding competitions – which is why it has been dubbed the “Arnold shoulder press”. The variation – which involves alternating the arm position to alternate muscular recruitment within the shoulder – is quite advanced and should be performed using lighter weights than you would normally use for a typical shoulder press.

Arnold Shoulder Press Video

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Arnold Shoulder Press Steps

  1. Select appropriately weighted dumbbells and sit on an upright bench.
  2. Kick the dumbbells up to a position that has the palms facing the shoulders.
  3. Exhale, drive the weights overhead and gradually rotate the palms away from the body throughout the motion.
  4. Inhale and at a controlled speed, lower the weights back down while gradually turning the palms back inwards.
  5. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions are completed.


Performing the Arnold shoulder press while in a standing position will draw additional recruitment from the core muscles to maintain the upright position.

Overhead Barbell Press

About The Overhead Barbell Press

This overhead barbell press is commonly used to strengthen the muscles within the shoulder region. Several variations are possible, all if which are discussed below. For simplicity, the instructions below are in reference to performing the movement to the front, with elbows in line with shoulders (3:00 & 9:00). Although the to-the-front version of the overhead barbell press is effective in recruiting all heads of the deltoids, the primary focus is on the anterior (front) deltoid with the secondary focus being on the middle portion of the shoulders.

Overhead Barbell Press Video

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How To Do Overhead Barbell Presses

  1. Sit in an upright position on the appropriate bench with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Reach up and grasp barbell using a closed grip at a position that has your wrists in alignment with elbows.
  3. Since starting can be awkward, have a spotter help you lift the bar off the rack and into a position that has you holding the barbell overhead.
  4. Inhale and lower down at a controlled speed until arms reach a 90 degree level. In most cases, this will be when bar reaches nose level.
  5. Exhale, extend arms and drive the weight back up to starting position.
  6. Repeat until desired number of repetitions are completed.

Overhead Barbell Press Variations

Bringing the bar behind the head instead of the front when performing the overhead barbell press will increase the recruitment of the middle deltoid. However, this method comes with a heightened risk of injury due to the additional stress placed on the shoulder capsule and the cervical disks of your neck region. This method increases your chances of sustaining a hernia.

Bent Over Lateral Raises


Bent over lateral raises are classed as an isolation movement and are typically completed nearing the final stages of a back or shoulder workout. However, from my personal experiences, performing bent over lateral raises immediately prior to moving to a row type exercise is a great way to pre-exhaust the muscles of the upper back before drawing assistance from the biceps. For spinal safety reasons, it is important not to allow any curvature within the spine and your body should be positioned almost parallel with the ground. Their are two versions of this movement with each drawing different muscle recruitment. This is the posterior deltoid version..


  1. Grasp an appropriately weighted dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip, slightly bend knees, push buttocks out and while keeping back flat, bend over at the hip until your torso is almost parallel with the floor.
  2. Exhale, retract shoulder blades and while keeping the elbows slightly bent, pull arms apart until they reach torso height. The dumbbells should be drawn up in alignment with the shoulder.
  3. Inhale and lower back down to starting position at a controlled speed.
  4. Repeat until desired number of repetitions are completed.

External Rotation Exercise

About The External Rotation Exercise

The purpose of the external rotation exercise is to strengthen the external shoulder rotators within the rotator cuff (infraspinatus & teres minor). Muscle imbalances frequently lead to injuries and considering that the shoulders are extra susceptible to injury due to their anatomical makeup, it is important to identify and correct these imbalances. In most cases, the frontal rotators are tight and overdeveloped and the rear rotators (infraspinatus & teres minor) are underdeveloped and weak. Performing the external rotation exercise will strengthen the rear rotators, which is one of the steps in the preventative process against these imbalances. However, it should be noted that these exercises must be strategically placed within a properly tailored program to avoid over-training. These rotation movements should always follow, and never be executed prior to a shoulder, chest or back workout.

External Rotation Video

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How To Do External Rotations

  1. Attach a single grip handle onto a pulley positioned at a low 45 degree angle in relation to your shoulder.
  2. While facing the pulley, grasp the handle using an overhand grip. Draw your arm up until your elbow is in horizontal alignment with your shoulder.
  3. Exhale and externally rotate shoulder until your knuckles are facing the ceiling and your wrist is in alignment with your elbow.
  4. Inhale and at a controlled speed, lower back to starting position.
  5. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions are completed.

Note: The pulley-method, which was just described, is the most effective way to target the rear rotators due to the constant tension that is placed upon the targeted muscles throughout the entire movement.


The external rotation exercise can also be performed by using dumbbells while in a standing position. Unfortunately, once gravity takes over, there is little tension on the targeted muscles near the top of the movement.

Resistance tubing will deliver maximum tension at the top of the movement but as the hand is lowered, the tension gradually decreases. This is a good choice when equipment availability is a factor.