Shoulder Press


The shoulder press exercise mainly emphasizes your shoulders, upper back and triceps with the use of some equipment such as the dumbbell or the barbell or even the gym equipment like the shoulder-press machine, whichever you are comfortable with. It basically builds up muscular mass and endurance with your triceps while you are sitting down.

In order to achieve the shoulder press, firmly grip the dumbbell in both of your hands, and sit on a chair or on a bench with some back support. Place your feet flat on the ground at hip-width apart. Then you bend your elbow, raise your upper arms in line with your shoulder, making a 90-degree angle and aligning the dumbbell straight at ear level. Flex your abdomen inward so that you don’t slouch. You can carry on with pushing the dumbbells upward and inward until your dumbbells reach each other, then push them directly over your head and back-to-ear level by lowering the dumbbells.

Maintain a proper sitting position while performing the shoulder press so that you can also practice good posture along the way. Keep in mind that when you do this exercise, the first repetition is always the tedious one to complete because your arms have no stretch reflex, which means that your reflex needs to get used with the demands of the shoulder press. You would feel like your arms are straining but as go on with two or more repetitions, the strain is gone and your arms are already in the mood to continue even more.


The important muscles that the shoulder press targets are your triceps, your biceps and your muscles in the back.

The shoulder press helps stabilize your upper back, and your shoulder blades when you push and pull the

dumbbells. Your shoulder blades also get trained with the backward and inward movement of this workout. Your triceps and biceps become tremendously active with the shoulder press because you are required to push and to pull the dumbbells. It helps build mass in your arms, giving you a more physically, fitting look. The muscles in your shoulders are also being stabilized by forcing them to move with weight, and this workout helps prevent strain and shoulder pain.

Sets and Repetitions

A variation of the shoulder press exercise is the Bradford press with the same procedures except that you need to lower the bar at the back of your head by bending your elbows at the top. Once the bar is behind your head, you press the bar back up in order to stress out your deltoids.

Beginners can complete three to four sets with 12 repetitions in each set, while the advanced can carry out four to five sets of 12 repetitions. When your body is already familiar with the shoulder press, you can add some weight in order to spice up the workout.

Instagram Video

Here is an Instagram video that demonstrates the shoulder press with a shoulder-press machine.

Related Amazon Product Links

The dumbbells offer weight in your arms upon doing the shoulder press. This product is a set of dumbbells with a wide range of weights from two to 20 lbs.

Top Performance Metrics

Some training enthusiasts have taken extremes in executing the shoulder press just like Manuel Herlo, who is able to perform the shoulder press with the use of a stone, weighing 130 kg.

Related Movements

Here are some exercises that you can associate with the shoulder press for faster and better results.

  • Push-up

  • Pull-up

  • Push press

  • Lunge

Related Foods

Below is a list of pre-workout snacks that you can consume 30 minutes to one hour before you start:

  • Whole grain cereal with almond milk

  • Oatmeal with fresh fruits or raisins or plums

  • Quinoa or rice cakes

  • Smoothie

Here are some post-workout snacks that you can consider in eating so that your body can refuel after executing some physical demands of the shoulder press:

  • Hummus with asparagus and carrot
  • Boiled eggs with brown rice
  • Protein shakes or protein bar
  • Low-fat chocolate milk


Here are some photos that illustrate the shoulder press.

YouTube Video

Here is a YouTube video that provides lecture on how to perform the shoulder press using a dumbbell.

Celebrity Use

The shoulder press is one of Jason Derulo’s favorite workout, together with push-ups, bicep curl and ab rollouts. Jason has turned to healthy diet such as eating organic food and lean protein.

Functional Use

You would manifest some changes in your strength, stability, physical power and endurance. Ameliorating your strength means you can achieve more with your life and you can maintain your physical health. Your bones are also getting stronger, leaving the risks of having brittle bones as you grow old. When you do the shoulder press, your bones, together with the muscles, are also moving and are also stressing, making them more active. Furthermore, having active bones means decreasing the chances of loss bone density. Your posture becomes better as you sit without slouching and without moving all throughout the repetitions.