What is an Arnold Press and How to Do It

What is an Arnold Press and How to Do It?

The shoulder muscles provide support and stability to the most flexible joint in the human body. These muscles help you perform different movements, including throwing a ball or brushing your hair.

Increasing power and strength in the shoulder muscles requires a well-designed exercise program that focuses on both the front and back of the shoulder. 

People typically perform shoulder presses to target the front of the shoulder. The Arnold press is a variation of the workout routine that facilitates muscle growth in the shoulder.

Origins of the Arnold Press

The Arnold press gets its name from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was known for his large and muscular shoulders. The former governor of California invented the exercise to build shoulders for better muscles and strength.

The Governator created the exercise to work on the anterior deltoid while performing an overhead press. He noticed that he could better target the muscle by rotating his palms to face his chin when he was at the bottom of the lowered position.

What Does an Arnold Press Work?

Shoulder strength is essential for strength training routines. It can help with functional movements, like taking things out of cabinets or lifting grocery bags. Arnold presses are an excellent way to build strength and prevent your shoulders from slumping forward.

The muscle group worked on by exercise includes the three main sections of the shoulder: the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids. This comprehensive exercise activates all three deltoid muscles in the shoulders. 

It’s important to note that your forearms and triceps also get a good workout during an Arnold press. So, it would help if you considered performing the workout while looking for the best sport for you to engage in.

Performing an Arnold Press

What is an Arnold Press and How to Do It
When doing the Arnold press, make sure that your fingers are facing your body as you grip the weights. Source Unknown
What is an Arnold Press and How to Do It
Straighten your arms as you lift the weights over your head. Photo by Ivan Samkov

Performing an Arnold press correctly requires controlled rotation and lifting. Here are the steps to ensure the exercise routine works properly.

  1. To start the exercise, you should hold the weights in front of your face with the upper arms parallel to the ground. You should also bend your elbows and have your palms facing your body.
  2. Next, open the elbows to each side of your shoulders while keeping them bent, and rotate the palms to ensure they are facing forward.
  3. After that, lift the weights above your head as you straighten your arms.
  4. Finally, reverse the move by bringing your arms back down to the starting position.

Arnold Press Variations

The exercise offers numerous benefits for your shoulders. But you can also try some exercise variations to get more benefits or avoid monotony during your workout. Here are a few of the variations you can try:

Standing Arnold Press

The standing Arnold press is a basic exercise to increase upper body strength. The exercise pushes the limits of your power and targets the shoulders, deltoids, back, and core. 

It’s crucial to perform the exercises correctly to avoid a shoulder injury. You should engage the abs while performing a dumbbell overhead press.

Seated Arnold Press

The seated Arnold press is ideal for beginners who want to use an exercise bench while performing a dumbbell curl. This basic exercise is also suitable for people recovering from lower back injuries. 

The seat provides additional back support while working out the deltoids. It is also ideal for enhancing motion through upward and downward movement.

Resistance Band Arnold Press

Using resistance bands while performing the Arnold press will eliminate the need to put too much weight on the wrists. This variation is also ideal for beginners who have yet to build their strength. 

The exercise is also suitable for travelers since it allows them to perform without bringing weights.

Single Arm Arnold Press

This variation of the exercise uses only one arm. Since the difficulty level is higher, it is not suitable for beginners. It requires focus and strength. The variation can increase the effectiveness of the exercise while allowing you to engage your obliques and abs.

Is the Arnold Press a Good Exercise?

The Arnold press helps build shoulder muscles. It targets your shoulder’s three main deltoid muscles—the posterior, lateral, and anterior deltoids. 

This comprehensive exercise is also beneficial for working the forearms and triceps. Additionally, it is among the pandemic sports you can perform with a lower risk of getting infected.

Arnold Press Benefits:

Better Definition

The workout routine is effective in building physique and aesthetics. When you contract all shoulder muscles simultaneously, you enhance muscle protein synthesis and stimulation. This increases muscle mass, strength, and size, helping sculpt well-defined shoulders and a better-looking upper body.

Fat Loss and Better Posture

Since the Arnold press is a compound exercise, it simultaneously works on different joints and muscle groups. This makes it an effective exercise for burning calories and promoting fat loss. 

Working on the deltoids and stabilizer muscles also helps to improve posture by drawing the shoulders back and maintaining a more upright position.

Increased Muscle Mass

The Arnold press is a time-tested workout routine that increases lean muscle mass in the upper body and shoulders. Its two defining factors are load and range of motion. 

These exercises have a wide range of motion that starts from a low point and goes overhead. This movement hits all three heads of your deltoids, leading to more gains in strength.

Mistakes to Avoid

Performing the workout routine properly is essential to avoid injuries. Here are some mistakes to avoid while performing this workout routine:

Using Momentum

Engaging your muscles and avoiding using momentum to power your move is crucial. If you notice that your arms are flailing, then you’re likely using momentum. This could lead to shoulder joint injuries.

Overlooking the Core

Maintaining a strong core is vital to stabilize the body while performing the workout routine. You may strain your shoulders if you overlook your core, leading to shoulder pain or injuries.

Lifting Too Much Weight

Start with lighter weights and gradually increase them as you get stronger. If you lift too much weight, you may end up injuring yourself.

The Arnold Press vs. Shoulder Press

The main difference between the Arnold press and the standard shoulder press is how your hands move while performing the workout routine. 

When you do a shoulder press, your palms face forward the entire time. In the Arnold press, you start with your palms together in front of your chest and then open them up as you move the weights overhead.

Even though both workout routines are effective, the Arnold press is better for hypertrophy, while the shoulder press is suitable for strength building.

The Arnold press works on the anterior delts since your elbows move in front of the body. As you press the dumbbells upwards, your middle and rear delts get increasingly engaged. 

The Arnold press is among the best exercises you can perform for muscle growth and gaining boulder shoulders.

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