This dumbbell exercise is brilliant for sculpting your shoulders and upper arms

So you want to learn how to properly perform an overhead press, one of the most important exercises to nail if you want to see upper body strength results? Fair enough. Proven to help build strong, lean shoulders, the overhead press is a real staple, so it’s in your best interest to learn how to do it correctly. Scroll, mate.

What muscles are used in an overhead press?

  • Deltoids
  • Trapeze
  • Triceps
  • Rotator cuff

Upper body exercises like the overhead press are brilliant because they take out the large lower body muscles that can help with exercises like squats, squat variations, and Romanian deadlifts. Instead, your body is forced to use the smaller (but still strong) muscles in your upper body to lift the weights overhead.

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The overhead press primarily works the deltoid muscle group in the shoulders, but works a host of other muscles as well. For example, you’ll also feel a burn in your trapezius, triceps, and rotator cuff muscles.

4 benefits of doing an overhead press

Not only will an overhead press help sculpt strong, defined shoulders, but doing them regularly has a wide range of benefits.

  • Builds functional strength
  • It can improve bone health and bone density
  • Helps increase stability
  • Works large muscles in the front and back of your upper body

The overhead press is actually perfect for strengthening the muscles we use in everyday life. Yes, they also play a role in moving furniture and dusting those tall shelves you’ve been putting off…

How to do a dumbbell overhead press

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a) Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbows to 90 degrees with dumbbells at ear level and palms facing forward.

b) Now straighten your arms and press the dumbbells towards the ceiling, then go back to the start.

3 variants of aerial presses

1. Seated overhead press

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a) Sit, shoulders against the bench, chest proud, head facing forward with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbows to 90 degrees with dumbbells at ear level and palms facing forward.

b) Now straighten your arms and press the dumbbells towards the ceiling, then go back to the start. Repeat.

2. Alternate arm overhead press

a) Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbows to 90 degrees with dumbbells at ear level and palms facing forward.

b) Now straighten one arm and press the dumbbell towards the ceiling, then return to the start and repeat with the opposite arm. He continues alternating.

3. Overhead press with hammer grip

a) Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees with dumbbells at ear level and palms facing in, so they are facing each other.

b) Now straighten your arms and press the dumbbells towards the ceiling, then go back to the start. Continues.


4 common mistakes when doing an overhead print

  1. Locking elbows up
  2. Pushing too fast and bringing weights back too fast
  3. Tense your shoulders so they lift towards your ears
  4. Widen your ribs as you extend your arms overhead

    What weight should I use for an overhead press?

    Everyone is different, but beginners or those who have never tried the exercise before are recommended to start with sets of 10 repetitions with a weight of approximately 25% of their body weight.

    For example, if you weigh 150 lbs (68 kg), start with around 35-40 lbs (16-18 kg). Then, as you get stronger and more accustomed to exercise, you can increase the weight.

    Is a seated overhead press harder than standing?

    A standing overhead press is widely considered to be more difficult because you’re using your entire body to lift the weight, including your core and legs, with nothing to stabilize your body as you lift the weight overhead. That said, a seated press is a good version to use to build the standing version.

    How to make an overhead press more challenging

    In the quest for serious shoulder gains, there are very few exercises that can compete with the overhead press. One of the best exercises for building lean muscle, strength and producing sculpted and defined shoulders, there are many ways to up the ante.

    Altering the angles of pressure and rotation in the wrist and forearms can be enough to target those hard-to-reach muscles. Or, if presses are part of a high-intensity workout, opt for lighter, more dynamic presses like the squat thruster or dumbbell snatch.

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