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Dumbbell Shoulder Press: Tips, How-To, Common Mistakes + FAQ

Dumbbell Shoulder PressThere are many exercises for the shoulders that you can do. One of the most famous is the dumbbell shoulder press. Well-trained shoulders contribute to a strong body and can contribute to other exercises, such as the bench press.

In addition, training this muscle group provides a physique that looks wider, which is reason enough for many people to do exercises such as the dumbbell shoulder press.

On this page, you will find a detailed explanation about the exercise, tips to avoid mistakes, and a number of frequently asked questions.

Which muscles do you train?

The name of the exercise of course already betrays what the most important muscle group is that you train with the dumbbell shoulder press, namely the shoulders. As with many exercises, it does not stop here. In this exercise, you make a pushing movement.

This means that your arm should eventually be fully extended from a bend of at least 90 degrees. This also trains your triceps. Although this is a secondary muscle group and therefore a lot less intensive than the shoulders, you will notice it during the performance.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

With the standard version of the dumbbell shoulder press, you sit on a bench, with the backrest up. This gives your back support. Do you choose the variant where you have to stay standing? Then you will notice that the muscles in your waist also have to work hard to stay in balance.

Performance of the dumbbell shoulder press

Below you will find a step-by-step explanation of the dumbbell shoulder press. Try to follow each step carefully, so that you do not unconsciously make one or more mistakes in the execution. This way you ensure that you get started as efficiently as possible.

  1. Raise the backrest of the bench

    It is important that you raise the backrest sufficiently so that you do not hang too far back during the exercise. The more you lean back, the more your chest muscles will be used. During the exercise, it is of course the intention to push as much as possible from the shoulders.

  2. Sit with your back against the backrest and feet flat on the floor

    It is important to sit firmly on the bench. This makes it easier to keep your balance while performing the dumbbell shoulder press. Place your feet firmly on the floor so that you have a stable base.

  3. Grab the dumbbells and lift them to the starting position

    Choose dumbbells that you expect to do the desired number of reps. Lift it up until your elbows are bent and the dumbbells are about level with your ear. Your elbows will be bent a little over 90 degrees. Also, make sure that your elbows are not straight along your body, but keep them a few degrees forward.

  4. Push the dumbbells up in a controlled manner

    Then, with a controlled movement, push the dumbbells up. Make sure the dumbbells don't touch each other. This can cause problems with your balance and make the exercise unnecessarily much more difficult.

  5. Move the dumbbells back down in a controlled manner

    You can now slowly lower the dumbbells. Do this until you are back in the starting position. You can then repeat this as often as you want. A good starting point to start with is 8 to 12 reps.

If you follow all these steps correctly, you will notice that a dumbbell shoulder press is not a difficult exercise. It is especially important to perform the exercise calmly and correctly. Are you unsure about your technique? Then ask a trainer at the gym or film yourself during the performance. So you can watch the performance afterward.

Common mistakes

While training the shoulders with the dumbbell shoulder press, mistakes are still made regularly. For this reason, we have detailed the most common mistakes here. Make sure you don't make these mistakes, so read them carefully.

  1. Hanging too far back with the upper body
    Many people hang further and further back with their upper body as the exercise becomes more difficult. This is a pretty natural response, as it makes it easier to push the weight up. However, you want to prevent this, since you will push less and less from your shoulders and more from your chest muscles. In that case, it is better to choose dumbbells that are slightly lighter and with which you can perform the exercise well.
  2. Not Pushing Dumbbells Up Far Enough
    Another common mistake with the dumbbell shoulder press is that many people don't push the dumbbells up far enough. The less you push the dumbbells up, the easier the exercise is, of course. Do you notice that you can't push the dumbbells all the way out? Then opt for a lighter pair so that you can do full reps.
  3. Pushing Elbows Out Too Far
    The last common mistake we'll cover is the wrong elbow position that many people have. The natural posture is to keep your elbows a few degrees in front of your body during the starting position and not straight at your side. This creates just a little more freedom of movement to perform the exercise in a pleasant way.

Standing variant

The variant of the dumbbell shoulder press that we have now discussed is the exercise where you sit on a bench. This gives you support in your back, making it easier for you to keep your balance. Want to make it even more challenging? Then you can choose to perform the exercise standing up. In terms of execution, the exercise is the same, but you stand upright instead of sitting.

You will notice that keeping your balance is a lot more difficult than during the sitting variant. This also trains your core and you will eventually notice that your balance and balance improve. If you are used to this, it is not surprising to have muscle pain in your abdominal muscles the next day. In short, definitely worth trying this variant.

Frequently asked questions about the dumbbell shoulder press

We round off the explanation of this exercise with some questions that are often asked about this exercise. Do you still have questions after reading this article? Leave your comment at the bottom of this page. We will answer your question as soon as possible.

Dumbbell shoulder press vs machine?

Both exercises are fine to perform for the shoulders. Personally, we would prefer the dumbbell shoulder press, since you have more freedom of movement here than with a machine. In addition, you need to work more on your balance during this exercise, since you have to push the dumbbells in the right line. With a machine, you can only move in one direction.

Why choose the dumbbell shoulder press?

It is one of the most well-known exercises for the shoulders and for good reason. By using dumbbells you have a lot of freedom of movement, so you can easily find the right posture. In addition, it is very easy to take lighter or heavier dumbbells if the chosen weight is not correct.

Are there alternatives to the dumbbell shoulder press?

Yes, there are many alternatives to dumbbell shoulder presses. Think of the overhead press with a barbell, the Arnold press, or a machine press. For more exercises for your shoulders, we recommend that you take a look at all shoulder exercises.

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