How To Do The Seated Arnold Press Properly

The seated Arnold press is exactly what it sounds like – an Arnold press did while seated.

If you are a press enthusiast you’ve no doubt heard about the Arnold press.

But if you’re new to the world of presses and you have no idea what it is, it’s a variation of the standard shoulder press designed to work all three heads of your shoulder.

You can do it standing or seated, but in this article, we only discuss how to do it while seated.

Now, to the business at hand – how do you do it properly?

Follow these steps:

  • Get an adjustable bench and set it to 90 degrees.
  • Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor.
  • Get seated on the bench.
  • Using a neutral grip, pick the dumbbells up from the floor, and position their ends on your knees.
  • With a slow and controlled motion, kick one knee up to get the weight into place, then repeat the kick motion on the other knee.
  • Once the weights get into place, rotate your palms to make them face you.
  • Inhale deeply and then press the weights over your head by extending both elbows and contracting your deltoids.
  • As you press overhead, rotate the weights until your palms face forward.
  • Slowly lower the weights to get back to the starting position. Depending on limb length, your arms should be at 90 degrees or just a bit lower.
  • Repeat until you achieve the desired number of reps.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE SEATED ARNOLD PRESS WORK?

The seated Arnold press engages the three heads of your deltoid muscle -the anterior, lateral and posterior deltoids – to give your shoulders an aesthetic, well-rounded appearance.

As a bonus, you get to work your forearms as you grip the weight and the triceps as you press it overhead.

Your core too gets in on the action when you tighten it to keep your body solid and stationary during the movement, which helps strengthen and isolate the muscles in there.

BENEFITS OF THE SEATED ARNOLD PRESS

MORE TIME UNDER TENSION

Since it involves additional rotation, a seated Arnold press rep usually takes about two seconds longer to complete than a regular overhead press would.

This means your deltoid muscles get more time under tension, which could translate into better hypertrophy.

WORKS THE ENTIRE SHOULDER

Rather than just engaging your lateral and anterior heads like most shoulder-centric exercises, the seated Arnold press recruits your rear deltoid head as well due to the added wrist rotation.

This helps you develop  strong, well-balanced and symmetrical shoulder muscles.

 

BETTER POSTURE

The challenging nature of this movement forces you to focus a lot on your form and posture by keeping your motions slow, steady and controlled to protect the joints involved.

Additionally, keeping your back straight and pressed against the seat pad the entire time improves your sitting posture which helps stabilize your spine to minimize the risk of injury in your lower back.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE SEATED ARNOLD PRESS

PUSH PRESS

The push press is a plyometric movement that allows you to press a lot more weight than the regular overhead press.

It mainly targets your triceps and shoulders while also engaging your core, chest, legs and lower back.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart and your barbell placed in a front rack position.
  • Bend your knees slightly to lower your torso and then push back and up explosively to press the bar over your head while extending your hips and knees.
  • Finish the movement by extending your arms fully and pushing your head slightly in front of the bar.
  • Get the barbell back into the front rack position before beginning the next rep.

HALF-KNEELING LANDMINE PRESS

The half-kneeling landmine press is a unilateral, compound exercise that works the same muscles as the seated Arnold press and follows a similar movement pattern.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Load a barbell appropriately and set it up in a landmine attachment.
  • Position yourself in front of the barbell and get into a half-kneeling position.
  • Rest the barbell in your palm and tense your shoulders.
  • With your core tight, push the bar away from you until you have fully extended your arm.
  • Slowly, get back to the starting position.
  • Finish all reps on one sides, then switch legs and arms to work the other side.

SEATED ARNOLD PRESS MISTAKES TO AVOID

STICKING YOUR HEAD OUT

Whenever you are doing the seated Arnold press, it is always a terrible idea to jut your head forward; this strains your head and neck muscles which could put you at risk of neck injury.

Keep your spine and head in a neutral position so that only your arms move as you press the weights overhead.

MOVING YOUR UPPER BODY

Moving your torso interferes with the engagement of the target muscles. Make sure your back stays pressed to the seat pad throughout the movement.

LOCKING OUT COMPLETELY

When you get to the top of the position, bend your elbows slightly and avoid locking out completely to keep as much tension in your shoulders as possible.

NOT TIGHTENING YOUR CORE

Tightening your core makes your abdominals and obliques work hard to keep your body motionless as your shoulders and arms do most of the work.

Plus, it gives you a bonus of a toned midsection. Who wouldn’t love that? ( Not you, for sure!)

WRAPPING UP

The seated Arnold press is most certainly one of the best movements out there that you can use to sculpt your shoulder muscles.

It does not just focus on the commonly over-targeted front deltoid but also engages the lateral and rear deltoid to a greater extent than most shoulder presses.

The result is broader, bigger, and properly balanced musculature that looks good and gives you a huge strength boost.

It may take you a while to master but once you do, it could be your favorite movement in your shoulder workout routine.