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Shoulder Press Exercise


Updated September 28, 2011

The shoulder press works your deltoid shoulder muscles and trapezius.

Equipment: Dumbbells. Start with a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell, and use lighter or heavier weights depending on your fitness level.

  • Sitting or Standing: Beginners should perform this exercise seated, with feet firmly on the floor. As you progress in fitness, you can perform this while seated on an exercise ball, standing, or standing on at Fit Disc or BOSU ball for more of a stability challenge.
    Photo and description of shoulder press
  • Hold each dumbbell at shoulder height next to your shoulder, palms facing forward.
  • Press the dumbbells straight up, and at arm's length overhead.
  • If you keep the press slightly in front of your body, you are less likely to arch your back, according to our Exercise Guide.
  • Lower the weights slowly back to the starting position.
  • Exhale and tighten your abs when lifting, inhale when lowering.
  • Lift in a controlled manner, without bouncing the weights up and down. You get a better muscle workout by doing the move slowly and smoothly up and down.
  • Repeat 12 times per set. Do 3 sets with 30 to 60 seconds rest between sets. Use a dumbbell weight that will allow you to do 12 repetitions at a time with good form.


Alternating Overhead Press
Related Video
Simple Exercise Warm Up

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