Shoulder Press (Variations)

Basic Shoulder Press

One of the best exercises to build strong and wide shoulders.

1. Start with the barbell resting on your chest, grip the bar so your hands sit just wider than the shoulders.
2. Engage the core and press the barbell directly above the head and away from the chest, until the arms are fully extended.
3. Slowly lower the bar to the chest and repeat.

Tip: Ensure the mid and lower back doesn’t over extend as you perform this movement. The core should be engaged to maintain a neutral spine position, allowing movement from the shoulder joints.

Seated  Barbell Shoulder Press

Sitting can allow heavier weight to be used to really focus on that muscle growth and strength gains, as your body is stabilised and better supported. This variation is alternatively great for anyone with lower back pain.


Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

By using dumbbells rather than a barbell you can train each shoulder indepently, also demanding more from your core and giving a more natural feel to the movement.



Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Sitting allows you to target just you shoulders harder as your body is stabilised. Using dumbbells instead of a barbell will allow for equal work from both sides of the body, not letting a dominant side take over.



Neutral Shoulder Press

If you struggle with poor flexibility in your shoulder try a palms-facing grip, which will simultaneously recruit more of the chest muscles as well.


Arnold Dumbbell Press

Try performing this exercise with a rotational movement through the shoulder, to hit the Deltoid muscle fibres at all angles of the shoulder. Start the exercise with palms facing your body, and rotating the forearms 180 degrees as you press, to finish facing forwards away from the body. Rotate back to palms facing you as you lower back to the start position.

Alternating Dumbbell Press

By alternating the dumbbell and just pressing one shoulder at a time, this exercises allows you work each shoulder independently.

Single Arm Dumbbell Press

Focusing a whole set on just one shoulder at a time is great for improving shoulder endurance and general strength.


 Please seek the advice of a GP, physiotherapist or a medically qualified personal trainer before commencing any exercise to avoid the risk of any injury. We do not advise performing any exercise if it exhibits any pain or discomfort in any way.

If you have any questions or queries about any of the exercises, please contact the Didsbury clinic (Manchester) to discuss with your physiotherapist or personal trainer.

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