What Are Arnold Presses?

Dan Cavallari

Arnold presses are a type of weight training exercise that works the muscles of the arms and shoulders. This exercise is a variation on an overhead press, which is a weight training exercise that is performed while in a sitting position. Arnold presses are named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, a prominent bodybuilder who developed the variant on the overhead press. Two dumbbells are required to execute this exercise, and having a spotter stand nearby is recommended in case the lifter loses control of the weights at any time during the exercise motion.

Arnold presses are a variation of the military press, which strengthens the shoulders and triceps.
Arnold presses are a variation of the military press, which strengthens the shoulders and triceps.

To execute Arnold presses, the lifter will start by sitting on a stable bench with the feet flat on the ground and the back straight. The dumbbells will need to be selected beforehand, and the lifter should choose weights he or she is comfortable lifting. Beginners should start with less weight, while more advanced lifters can use heavier weights. The starting position for Arnold presses requires the lifter to lift the barbells to about chest height with the palms facing inward toward the body. The upper arms should be dropped and the forearms should be raised.

The next motion during Arnold presses requires the lifter to raise the barbells above the head while simultaneously rotating the forearms so the palms face outward. The lifter will raise the dumbbells until the arms are fully extended but not locked; locking the elbows can lead to injury and should be avoided. The lifter will hold this position briefly, then slowly return to the starting position. The motion should be repeated for several repetitions for the best workout. After several repetitions, the lifter can rest, and then perform the Arnold presses again.

The altered rotating motion ensures that several muscles in the arms, shoulders, and chest get strengthened and toned, while a traditional overhead press does not work as many muscles at once. This is a fairly intense lifting exercise, and the lifter is likely to feel tired after executing the presses. Many lifters combine this exercise with other weight lifting exercises to create a thorough workout program for the chest, arms, and shoulders. Adequate rest is also important to ensure the lifter does not injure himself.

A beginner should start with less weight at first to improve his or her motion during the exercise. An incorrect motion can be counterproductive, leading to injury rather than gains in muscle mass and performance. Once the beginner has improved the motion, he or she can add weight as desired to begin building more muscle rapidly.

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