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Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

The Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press develop the entire shoulder muscle group.john_baroud_shoulders The dumbbells allow for a greater freedom of movement than the Barbell Shoulder Press. This greater freedom of movement also increases shoulder muscle activation and can also be very useful for people with shoulder injuries since the dumbells are far less stressful to the shoulder joint.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press - A Basic Compound Movement

Like the standing version, the Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Presse is a basic compound exercise (involves two or more joint movements) that require muscles on both sides of the shoulder joint to fire, but they primarily recruit the anterior (front) deltoids.

Target Muscles used when Performing the Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Deltoid, Anterior

Synergist Muscles used when Performing the Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press  

  • Deltoid, Lateral
  • Supraspinatus
  • Triceps Brachii
  • Trapezius, Middle
  • Trapezius, Lower
  • Serratus Anterior, Inferior Digitations
  • Pectoralis Major, Clavicular

Dynamic Stabilizers used when Performing the Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press  

  • Triceps, Long Head
  • Biceps Brachii

Stabilizers used when Performing the Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Trapezius, Upper
  • Levator Scapulae

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press Form

  • The Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press can be done using an adjustable incline bench set to just under 90 degrees or using the seat of a preacher bench with your back against the pad (you will be facing the other way and the pad should be just above the small of your back).
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height using a pronated grip, with the elbows pointed downward and to the sides. In this ready position, inhale.
  • Exhale as you drive both dumbbells overhead in a slight arc until the elbows are fully extended. Keep the head upright and in a neutral position. At no time should you bend it forward.
  • Do not crack them together and do not lock your elbows out (this will keep tension on the delts).
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position while inhaling.
  • Repeat.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press Tips 

Keep your pinkies higher than your thumbs throughout the movement. This will mean tipping the dumbells slightly down and in towards your head as though pouring water on yourself. This will increase the tension in the deltoids.  

Common Errors when Performing the Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The following errors are potentially dangerous and can result in injury. Avoid them at all costs.

  • Leaning back. When the weight starts to get heavy, many people have a tendency to lean back, in effect turning the exercise into an incline press with no back support. This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise as well as placing an unnecessary strain on the lower back.
  • Not wearing a lifting belt. This places an unnecessary strain on the lower back.

Possible Injuries when Performing the Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Incorrect form may lead to multiple types of injuries including:

  • torn ligaments/tendons in shoulders.
  • back injuries.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press Variations

The seated dumbbell oshoulder press has several variations. Variation exercises are exercises intended to work different subgroups of muscles, or work the same muscles in slightly different ways.

All of these shoulder exercises can be performed either seated or standing. With seated shoulder press exercises you will be able to handle more weight if you lean back against a pad. With a standing or seated unsupported shoulder press you'll need more muscles for stabilization, and the extra work will demand lighter weights. Try these variations of the dumbbell overhead press.

All of these shoulder exercises can be performed either seated or standing. With seated shoulder press exercises you will be able to handle more weight if you lean back against a pad. With a standing or seated unsupported shoulder press you'll need more muscles for stabilization, and the extra work will demand lighter weights. Try these variations of the dumbbell overhead press.

  • Alternating unilateral dumbbell shoulder press - Set up like a bilateral, except that you raise and lower one dumbbell, then the other.
  • Unilateral dumbbell shoulder press - Do all of your reps on one arm, then the other.
  • Top hold dumbbell shoulder press -  Extend both dumbbells overhead. Hold one there while you bring one down and then back up. Hold that dumbbell overhead while you bring the other down and then up.

About the Author Jeff Behar

Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, weightlifting, nutrition, weight losscancer, disease preventionheart health, alzheimers, anti aging and alternative medicine. Jeff Behar's work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines and health, fitness and  weight loss websites. Jeff Behar is also the CEO of MuscleMagFitness.com, and MyBestHealthPortal.com; two very popular health, fitness, nutrition and anti aging web sites.

 
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