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March 12, 2022 9 min read

The Arnold press is a patented lift named after THE Arnold Schwarzenegger. This legend isn't only known for his role as the Terminator but also famous for his effect in the bodybuilding world.

In his prime, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a massive hunk of muscle.

He was primarily known for his enormous shoulder span, which he attributed to a slew of high-intensity exercises and unique moves. The Arnie press is a unique exercise that helps him target every muscle fiber in his shoulders.

Below, we have provided the keys to perfecting the Arnold Press.

What Is The Arnold Press?

The Arnold press is a modification of the conventional shoulder press. It is an exercise designed to help you follow the footsteps of the great

Schwarzenegger, one of the most decorated bodybuilders, who has set the standards for what boulder-like shoulders should look like.

Arnold was a force who altered the bodybuilding world. Long before he became a sweetheart on your screens, he had begun to win awards and meds in bodybuilding competitions, including a 7-year long winning streak of the Mr. Olympia competition.

This was due to his dedication to workouts that helped hone his physique until he looked like a demigod chiseled in stone. Therefore, it only made sense to dedicate this one-of-a-kind exercise to a one-of-a-kind man.

The Arnold press is the regular press with a distinctive twist during the top movements that help you to exhaust your muscle fibers.

You begin the exercise with your palms facing you and twist your palms outward as you press the dumbbells. This increases muscle contraction and targets all neglected shoulder muscles. If more prominent and stronger shoulders are what you need to tick off your bucket list, this impressive exercise undoubtedly belongs in your workout routine.

What makes the Arnold press, or Arnie press as it is fondly known, stand out is its ability to target all three parts of the shoulders at once, unlike exercises like upright rows.

This provides a capped look, helping you to achieve the jacked physique that you seek.

What Does The Arnold Press Do?

The Arnold press is a shoulder exercise. Its primary benefit is to work the muscle fibers in the shoulder, inducing growth and strengthening them in the process. 

Many bodybuilders often make the mistake of engaging in general shoulder exercises.

They treat the shoulder muscle as one big fleshy muscle instead of several parts. 

Different exercises affect different parts of the deltoids of the shoulder. The Arnold press is one of the few exercises that activate all aspects of the deltoids.

The deltoid is the thick shoulder muscle that connects to your shoulder blade and collarbone.

It is a three-headed muscle that consists of three parts or head, namely the anterior, lateral, and posterior delts. All three parts of the deltoids are placed differently and perform independent functions. However, these muscles work in sync to coordinate your arms' movement.

In addition, they provide a buffed look that contributes to your physique and size. Many exercises tend to work only one or two parts of the delts.

The Arnie press, on the other hand, works all three parts at once.

fitness and bodybuilding Strong and handsome athletic young man with muscles abs and biceps

Muscles Worked During The Arnold Press


The anterior deltoid is located on the front of your shoulder and connects to your collarbone. This muscle is essential for moving your hand forward. It is often targeted in other pressing exercises. 

The lateral deltoid is the middle part of your shoulder that connects to your shoulder blade and upper arm bone. It primarily helps to keep your arm stabilized when you are lifting heavy loads and to abduct your arms out to the side.

The lateral head also adds bulk to your shoulder muscles; therefore, working this delt adds thickness and width to your shoulders, helping you achieve the jacked look you aim for. 

The posterior delt is also known as the rear delt and is located on the back of your shoulder. It helps with the extension, rotation, and abduction of your arms. It helps to move your arms backward and functions with other attached muscles like the traps and rhomboids to hold your shoulders back.

Apart, all three parts of the deltoid might perform separate functions, but together, they endure the proper movement and alignment of your arms.

The Arnold press helps to work all three deltoids, strengthening and growing them. The Arnold press also works the shoulder joint. While this means that you get a chance to strengthen the joints and connecting muscles, it also puts you at risk of joint injuries through internal muscle rotation.

This makes the Arnie press a double-edged sword. Improper implementation and execution of this exercise are more harmful than beneficial. 

While your shoulders are the primary movers and recipients of the bulk of muscle contractions, your secondary movers also benefit from the Arnold press. These are the biceps, triceps, traps, and core muscles.

Upper Arm Muscles

Your biceps and triceps are the major muscle groups of the upper arm. The bicep sits on the front of your upper arm while your triceps are located at the back. 

The bicep is a two-headed muscle that functions in syn as one primary muscle. It is made up of two parts, namely the short and long head of the bicep. Both muscle heads contribute to the movement of the arm in different directions, and together, they help to flex, rotate, supinate, abduct, and adduct the arm and forearm.

The bicep facilitates the movement of the dumbbells in the Arnold, and so receives muscle tension for strength and growth. 

The tricep, on the other hand, is made of three muscle parts named the medial, lateral, and long head. The medial head is responsible for extending the elbows under low-intensity force, the lateral head helps you move the arms under high-intensity force, and the long head is accountable for the adduction and extension of the arm at the shoulder joint.

Admittedly, the triceps do not receive as much muscle contraction as the deltoids do. Regardless of this, the triceps are engaged enough to strengthen them.


Your traps also get in on the fun when you perform the Arnold press. The trapezius muscle is the back muscle that extends from the nape of your neck to your mid-back. It is a vital muscle that helps move shoulder blades and, subsequently, your arms.

The traps also help in movements of the head and neck. It supports your arm and stabilizes it during functional and sports activities.

During the Arnold press, your traps are engaged during all parts of the motion.

The core works with your traps to support your movement. Your core muscles also stabilize you during the standing Arnie press and are less engaged during the seated Arnie press. The Arnold press might be famously known as a shoulder exercise.

However, it also engages many major muscle groups. This nominates it as one of the best exercises for not only building your shoulders for aesthetic purposes but also to improving upper body strength and muscle endurance, if you don't believe us, as the iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger.

How To Perform The Arnold Press

Your ability to perform and perfect the Arnold press hinges on your ability to sustain proper form throughout your routine. The Arnold press might be a muscle conditioning exercise.

Still, for the best result, we advise you to go lighter on the dumbbells than you will during other press variations like the overhead press, at least until you have mastered the movements of the exercise.

The Arnold press looks deceptively easy, like any other press, but with a slight twist- pun unintended.

The little twist of your palms as you press the dumbbells overhead is riskier than many bodybuilders give it credit for.

A small nuance and hesitation during this movement might open you up to muscle injuries. 

To perform the Arnold press properly:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells. Ensure that you choose the best weight for your fitness level.
  • Bring the dumbbells to shoulder height with your elbow bent, imitating a curl.
  • Hold the dumbbells so that your palms face your body.
  • Your upper arms should be tucked close to your body, and your elbows pointed down.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and distribute your weight equally.
  • Keep your back straight, and shoulder blades slightly pinched together.
  • Pre-tension your shoulders.
  • Keep your gaze toward and chest proud.
  • Engage your core and exhale.
  • As you press the dumbbells overhead, rotate the dumbbells.
  • At the top of the movement, your hands should be fully extended, and your palms should face forward.
  • Pause at the top of the movement.
  • Exhale and slowly lower the dumbbells, rotating your palms as you complete the eccentric phase.
  • This is one rep. Perform as many repetitions as you can.

The Seated Arnold Press


The Arnold press is an advanced exercise that demands adequate upper body strength. If you find it challenging to perform a proper standing Arnold press, it is better to get acquainted with this exercise in the more uncomplicated form, the seated Arnold press.

The seated Arnold press takes away the need for stability.

Because you are sitting, your core is not as engaged, and your back is supported by the chair’s back support (in the presence of one). This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the standard lifting technique of the Arnold press before scaling up to its standing variation. 

To do the seated Arnold press:

  • Sit on a bench or in a chair. Regardless of the option you go with, ensure your legs are at a 90-degree angle when you sit.
  • Rest your back against the chair support if it has one.
  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing you.
  • Pre-tension your shoulders.
  • Keep your back straight, and your chest pushed forward slightly.
  • Exhale and initiate the pressing movement, turning your palms out as you raise the barbell.
  • Pause at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the dumbbells and turn your palms inward.
  • This is one rep. Complete as many reps as possible.

Benefits of The Arnold Press

The Arnold press is a splendid way to achieve Arnold Schwarzenegger's shoulders type. While you might be nowhere near giving the iconic athlete a run for his money, you will be no doubt on the path to a stronger and bigger build.

Some benefits of the Arnold press includes:

  • Bigger shoulders: The Arnold press is one of the few exercises targeting and activating all parts of the shoulder muscles. It hits all heads and helps achieve a capped and rounder shoulder build that is the cherry-on-top for an impressive physique. The Arnold press provokes adequate muscle response, allowing your shoulder muscle fibers to maximize the muscle contractions that the load of the dumbbells present. For better results, pair your training with the HYPERBOLIC STACK for an insane muscle pump, greater muscle endurance, increased strength, improved muscle response, and better performance.
  • Upper body strength: The arms and shoulder muscles are the prime movers of the upper body. Thankfully, the Arnold press not only works these muscles but also strengthens other muscles that contribute to the strength of your upper body, which are the traps, core, and other complementary stabilizer muscles. This leads to an automatic increase in your performance in both daily and sports activities.
  • Increased mobility: Completing the range of motion during the Arnold press helps strengthen your shoulder joints while increasing your flexibility. This is a great way to protect yourself from injuries during exercises.

Tips To Perfect Your Arnold Press

Perfecting your Arnold press can be an arduous task, especially during the concentric or lifting portion of the exercise. This can be caused by a lack of proper posture or sufficient mobility in your shoulders. Some tips to help you fix these nuances include:

  • Complete the twisting movements in a fluid motion. Don't break off at any time during the exercise.
  • As a cue, push your bicep towards your ears as you exhale. This will help you to time and perfect your lifting technique.
  • Keep your back straight throughout your reps. Don't lean or slouch forward, which will strain your lower back muscles. 
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent at the top of your money cement. Don't lock your elbows, which would overload your joint with tension and put you at risk of injuries.
  • Don't lift more than you can carry. Start with small weights and work your way up.
  • Warm-up with arm and shoulder stretches.
  • Prep your muscles. Couple your routines with our STEEL OCTANE energy drink formulated with amino, vitamins, caffeine, and anything you need to get you buzzing with energy. 

Going Down The Arnold Way

The Arnold press is cut right out of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s workout routine. It is as iconic as its creator and is one of the best exercises to make your dreams of sporting a massive boulder-like shoulder possible. Since shoulder and arm strength is a big part of the gym, you would not want to sit this one out.

The Arnold press is tricky and can quickly go wrong. To ensure your safety and the proper muscle response, execute the exercise in the perfect form. For the best results, pair your Arnie press with other impressive exercises like the Hammer press.