The Dumbbell Shoulder Press

You’ve no doubt heard of the military press before – regarded as the rudimentary shoulder exercise. It consists of a barbell which is held at around shoulder-width grip to the front, across the collar bone, forearms underneath, perpendicular to the floor. The barbell is then lifted upward until the arms are locked out, and then lowered slowly.

Well, for all intents and purposes, the dumbbell shoulder press is nothing more than the dumbbell variation of the barbell military press.

Hold two dumbbells at shoulder height, slightly to the front of you, elbows out to the sides (but forearms perpendicular to the floor, still), palms facing inward, but slightly forward. Dumbbells are pressed upward, twisting the palms to face forward as you reach the top. The dumbbells are touched together at the top, and then lowered, with the twisting motion reversed.

What’s the difference between dumbbell shoulder presses and the military press?

Like most dumbbell exercises, the downside is, because of the need to control and coordinate two separate weights simultaneously, less weight on the bar can be used (normally). But this effect can be somewhat countered by the additional muscle recruitment forced to stabilize what weight there is, plus a greater range of motion. As long as there isn’t a huge weight difference, I guess it sort of balances out. Only testing on your part can find that out.

Also, many people experience a lot of shoulder pain from using fixed lifting positions (barbell exercises) but can use dumbbells without pain, because it allows them to adjust to a more pain free position. In fact, many people simply cannot use barbells at all for many exercises but can train perfectly fine with dumbbells.

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