How to Master the Arnold Press (Yes, That Arnold)

Take a page out of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s training book to build broad, muscular shoulders. The bodybuilder’s take on the classic dumbbell overhead press hits all three sections of the deltoids – the round muscles at the top of your upper arms – for fuller size and shape. Although you can go heavier with barbell presses and regular overhead presses, this move, when done right, can keep your muscles under tension for longer, which is the key to the growth of new muscle tissue. As well as increasing your strength and improving your posture, it’ll make your shoulders look wider and, therefore, better.

The anterior deltoids tend to get plenty of work from press-ups and bench presses, but the medial (lateral) and posterior (back) often get neglected. However, the Arnold press works all these evenly along with the stabiliser muscles, helping draw back the shoulders for a straight posture and assisting with big pulling moves such as deadlifts, pull-ups and rows.

How to Do the Arnold Press

Start light until you master the form. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arm bent, as in the top of a biceps curl, so your palms are facing you. Now, instead of pushing straight up, spread your arms to each side laterally, then press your arms up and twist your hands so your palms face forwards. For full range of motion, finish by pushing your head forwards and reaching as high as you can so your biceps are close to your ears.

Make this move harder by starting with your elbows slightly raised so your upper arms are parallel with the floor. This ensures there is tension on the shoulders even at the bottom of the lift. Aim for a rep range of between eight to 12 for four sets with 30 seconds of rest.

RECOMMENDED: The Dumbbell Shoulder Workout to Build Cannonball Shoulders

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