Arnold Press: 3 Key Benefits And How To Arnold Press

The Arnold Press is coveted as one of the best strength training movements, designed to build strong, well-defined shoulders. Invented by legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Arnold press stimulates all three heads of the deltoid muscles, providing a full range of motion, to stack more strength and size. We’re going to talk about why you should include the Arnold press in your upper body training split, how it can benefit your training outcomes, as well as how to do the Arnold press properly.

What Is The Arnold Press 

Arnold Schwarzenegger aka “the Governator” is one of the most iconic bodybuilders in the world, winning Mr. Universe at only age 20 and taking the Mr. Olympia title 7 times. Schwarzenegger invented the Arnold press, to actively stimulate all three heads of the shoulders, (anterior, mediolateral, posterior) for better muscle development and strength.

The Arnold press is a shoulder press variation, performed with dumbbells. Unlike other shoulder exercises, such as the lateral raise, front raise, military press, or overhead press, the movement activates all three heads of the deltoid, by adding a simple wrist rotation or twist, going from palms facing toward you, to a shoulder press.

Arnold Press Muscles Worked

The Arnold press works both the anterior, medial, and poster deltoid by adding a twist to a standard shoulder press. The deltoids are responsible for the majority of pressing power in the Arnold press. 

Secondary muscles worked during the Arnold press include the traps, triceps, and core. 

Arnold Press Benefits

1. More Muscle Mass

The Arnold press is a tried-and-true strength training variation, which can significantly benefit and increase lean muscle mass in your shoulders and upper body. Load and range of motion are two defining factors in building more muscle mass and size. Arnold press exhibits a full and wide range of motion, starting from a low point to arms overhead, stimulating and isolating all three heads of your deltoids. Overall, this movement will help you stack more gains and strength.

2. Better Definition

Few shoulder exercises are as effective as the Arnold press, in building a well-rounded aesthetic and physique. There’s a reason why Arnold won the Mr. Olympia seven times, and it wasn’t because he didn’t know what he was doing. Contracting all muscles in the shoulder at once, will create better muscle protein synthesis, and stimulation, creating more muscle mass, strength, and leading to more size.

3. Body Optimization

More muscle mass leads to more burned calories at rest and more calories burned, can result in a caloric deficit helping you burn more body fat. With greater muscle mass development, and since this exercise stimulates the entire shoulder as opposed to a single muscle in isolation, Arnold press can burn more calories in a shorter period of time, leading to better body composition.

How To Arnold Press

Watch this Arnold Press how-to video and read our tips to learn the form properly.

  • Begin with a weight that is manageable, to complete 3-4 sets, of 10-12 reps without compromising form.
  • Sitting or standing, grab two dumbbells, with your head and spine in neutral position.
  • Hold both dumbbells slightly above your shoulders, with your chin tucked, and palms facing your body with your elbows toward the floor.
  • Initiate the positive phase of the lift, by pressing towards the ceiling, while moving your elbows out wide and away from your body
  • As your palms begin to face forward from the wrist rotation, move fluidly and press the dumbbells overhead.
  • At the top of the movement, your arms should be long with a slight bend.
  • Pause at the top, then reverse the movement back to starting position

Arnold Press: Takeaway

If you're looking for a way to add more strength, size, and overall gains to your upper body training split, the Arnold press is a must have press variation in your training routine. Arnold press stimulates all segments of your shoulders to help you build more strength and a well defined physique. 


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