What Is the Shoulder Dumbbell Press?

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  • Written By: C.H. Seman
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 26 April 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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The shoulder dumbbell press is a shoulder exercise that targets the anterior deltoid muscles. It is designed to increase strength in the shoulder muscles and to increase general pressing strength. This exercise is performed in a sitting position, usually from an exercise bench, with a dumbbell in each hand.

The benefits of the shoulder dumbbell press are numerous. As with most weightlifting activities, this exercise can help build muscle and increase strength. As a part of a carefully planned weightlifting regimen, the shoulder dumbbell press can help a person obtain his or her weightlifting goals. These goals can include fat loss, increased muscle definition or an increase in overall strength.

To perform the shoulder dumbbell press, a person will need an exercise bench with a vertical back and two dumbbells. Proper posture on the bench is important. The feet should be flat on the floor and the back should be against the bench. Before beginning the exercise, the dumbbells should be resting on the thighs.

After the person is properly seated, the actual exercise can begin. The dumbbells are grasped in each hand with the palms facing forward. To place the weights in the starting position, the arms are lifted out to the sides of the body and the elbows form a 90° angle. From this position, the arms extend upward, pressing the weights overhead. The weights are then lowered to the starting position.


The target muscles for this exercise are the anterior deltoids. There are many synergists, or assisting muscles, for this exercise, including the lateral deltoids, the rotary cuffs, the triceps, the lower and middle trapezius, the serratus anterior and the pectoralis major muscles. The dynamic stabilizers for this exercise include the triceps and biceps. The upper trapezius and the levator scapulae are the stabilizers.

When performing the shoulder dumbbell press, good form is necessary to avoid painful injuries. The wrists should be kept relatively straight to avoid unnecessary strain. The arms should be angled slightly inward instead of straight out to the sides to protect the rotary cuffs and shoulder joints. In the extended position, the arms should still have a slight bend at the elbow to avoid unnecessary strain and joint damage.

The shoulder dumbbell press can be performed alone, but a spotter or a trainer can be used to improve form and increase safety. A trainer also may be useful in planning a workout regimen that includes this exercise and may provide insight into the number of sets and repetitions a person can handle. This is especially important for people who are new to the shoulder dumbbell press.



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