Fitness tip - Arnold press

Fitness tip - Arnold press

by Evigan Xiao 08 Jan 2020

Nothing defines an impressive physique like a strong set of shoulders. Regardless of you’re a man or a woman, having well-built shoulders practically screams athleticism while also promoting good upper body health and function. The problem is, shoulders are one of the trickier parts of the body to train – you can’t just hammer them with barbell shoulder presses and expect them to grow. 


One of the keys to improving shoulder hypertrophy is increased time under tension. While an overall increase in volume can be used to achieve that, the ceiling for training volume when it comes to shoulders is relatively lower. Unlike legs, shoulders are considered delicate when you take their anatomy into account. As such, excessive volume can result in injuries like impingement syndrome and joint inflammation.


The most common way to prolong time under tension without bumping up training volume is to increase the range of motion. When it comes to pressing movements for the shoulders, one of the best ways to achieve this is via the Arnold press. Named after the Austrian Oak himself, the Arnold press incorporates a rotational element to your standard seated dumbbell shoulder press.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


Starting with a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing you, begin by first rotating the dumbbells externally so that your palms face forward. It is important that this rotation occurs at the shoulder, resulting in the elbows abducting first before extending. Complete the movement by flexing at the shoulders in a shrugging motion before lowering the dumbbells back into the starting position.


By adding the rotation at the start and the end of the press, the time to completion for each repetition becomes slightly extended. Over the course of multiple repetitions and sets, this additional time under tension will add up. The Arnold press also recruits the medial deltoids (outer shoulder) to a slightly higher degree. The Arnold press can even be performed on a slight incline for a greater effect on the anterior deltoids (front shoulder).


Shoulders benefit hugely from a greater variety of movements that occur on various planes, so be sure to supplement your presses with isolation movements like lateral raises, rear delt flyes and face pulls. The Arnold press can be a good choice for a primary movement for an upper body workout, or even a post-exhaust movement as a finisher. While we can’t promise that it’ll give you shoulders like Arnold’s, you’ll definitely see some improvement in that area!