The Arnold Press Boosts Your Shoulder Strength and Engages Your Core (if You Do It the Right Way)

Did you know that body builder, actor, former governor, and (okay fine, fictional) terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger has a whole weight lifting move named after him? It’s called the Arnold Press, and it's basically a variation on a shoulder press that gives your deltoids (shoulder muscles) and abs a serious workout.

“The Arnold press is a great way to get some upper body shoulder strength going,” says personal trainer Morit Summers. “And, like always, we have to use our cores.”

Shoulder strength is an important element of any strength-training routine. Not only will it help you with a ton of functional movements, like taking things out of cabinets or lifting grocery bags, it is an important part of maintaining correct posture and preventing your shoulders from slumping forward.

Experts In This Article
  • Morit Summers, personal trainer and founder of Form Fitness Brooklyn

Doing an Arnold Press with correct form is all about controlled rotation and lifting. You start by holding your weights in front of your face, upper arms parallel to the ground, elbows bent at 90 degrees, and palms facing your head. Then you open up the elbows out to either side of your shoulders, keeping them bent, and rotating the palms to face forward. Next, press those weights above your head as you straighten your arms. And then reverse the move as your bring your arms back down to the starting position.

As you just might be able to tell, the move is a bit… involved. And with so many moving parts (literally), there are a lot of elements that can go wrong and keep you from getting the most out of your Arnold Press.

In the latest installation of The Right Way, Summers walks us through the common mistakes she sees as people try to press like Arnold.

Mistake 1: Pressing too far forward

The first potential pitfall is in the position of the press. Are you lifting your arms straight up with control? Or are you pressing the weights in front of your body, which Summers says is “not efficient” (not to mention that it doesn’t feel good on those shoulders).

Mistake 2: Using momentum

Another common error is using momentum to power the move, rather than engaging your muscles. The key to identifying this is if your upper body and arms are flailing like an inflatable tube man.

Mistake 3: Forgetting your core

Finally, one of the crucial and missed components of this move is—surprise, surprise—engaging your core! You have to use your ab muscles if you want to stabilize your upper body in a way that enables your shoulders to rotate and twist the right way.

Check out Summers’ full breakdown of the shoulder-rific Arnold Press in the video above.

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