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How to dumbbell shoulder press? [Article, Video]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jan 10, 2020 9:00:00 AM

How to dumbbell shoulder press

How to dumbbell shoulder press?

This is an overview of the best dumbbell exercises in my opinion. I use them as accessory work to my powerlifting routines when I have 1.5 hours in the gym instead of 30 minutes or one hour.
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The best dumbbell exercises are the ones that you can not really do with a barbell. This gives you the opportunity to zoom in on smaller muscle groups and get them up to par for pump or strength. Some of these exercises are:
This is just a shortlist and there hundreds of not thousands of variations. Play around with different styles and exercises. The best athletes use all tools at their disposal to maximize their gains. 

How to dumbbell shoulder press

The dumbbell shoulder press can be done in multiple variations. The most common are: 
  • Standing dumbbell shoulder press 
  • Seated dumbbell shoulder press 
  • Wrists in line with shoulders 
  • Wrists in line with your head
  • Both arms at the same time 
  • One arm at a time.
The standing dumbbell press will train more stability in the body and will usually be done with less weight. Getting to the starting position can be annoying when you want to press with both arms at the same time. 
My personal favorite is the seated dumbbell overhead press, wrists in line with your head with both hands. This is a variation to the military press I already do with the barbell and provides a maximum variation on my overall program. I use the shoulder press as an accessory. 

How to dumbbell lunge

The dumbbell lunge is especially popular in toning and bum shaping programs. You take a wide step forward and cringe your knee to the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. If you do this exercise you will hold a dumbbell on each hand. Many people prefer this to barbell lunges as the setup is easier. 

How to dumbbell clean

The dumbbell clean is a good variation to the barbell clean for beginners as it is less technical. You will start with the dumbbell on the floor and clean It to shoulder height. I prefer to do this one arm at a time has a double dumbbell clean can get messy. If you insist to do both arms at the same time for cleans, try kettlebells. Use the smaller, iron ones, as they won’t take up as much space on your arms. 

How to dumbbell lateral raise

The dumbbell lateral raise is a classic bodybuilding movement that can not be done with a barbell. Start with a dumbbell in each hand. From there, raise your arms to about shoulder height. Do this controlled and with no yanking motion. Lower the dumbbells slowly to starting position. This is one repetition. 
The lateral raise is great to train smaller muscle groups which the barbell row and bench press don’t catch. I usually use it as accessory work. 

How to dumbbell row 

Dumbbell rows will give you the opportunity to work on imbalances and focus more on time under tension for bodybuilding. It is also harder to yank the weight up compared to a barbell
Lift the dumbbells from the ground as for a dumbbell deadlift. Keep your spine neutral and get the dumbbells to your hip. Once there, bent over slightly and maintain a neutral spine. The dumbbells should now be about knee height. From there pull the weight up to your chest. Try to get as high as you can as this is a benefit of the dumbbell to the barbell row. You can go deeper into the back muscle by pulling into your chest. Lower the weight back to knee height and full extension of the arms. This concludes one repetition.

How to dumbbell pullover

The dumbbell pullover is a good exercise to work your entire chest area and arms which is often overlooked. It is not a part of many routines anymore and has fallen out of grace since the golden age of bodybuilding. 
Start by getting a dumbbell ready in front of your bench. You can pick a heavier one is you will use both hands on it. Sit down on the bench and grip the dumbbell with both hands. Lift it onto one of your legs. Get both hands on the inside of the dumbbell. Lay back on the bench and move the dumbbell to your stomach. Press it up with both hands. Then travel as far as you can with the dumbbell behind your head. Get back to full extension of the arms over your chest. You have completed one repetition. 

How to dumbbell flye 

The dumbbell flye is a great exercise to make your chest fuller. It is not necessarily the best to develop strength. Still, bigger muscles move more weight, but growing them takes time and more than just the flat barbell bench press. 
Get two dumbbells ready at the end of the bench. Be conservative with the weight as you will use two dumbbells and also put your arms in a disadvantaged position. Lift the dumbbells to your legs. Lay down and move the dumbbells to the starting position by pressing them up. Lower the weights outwards as if you were being nailed to the cross. Get as low as you can without risking injury in the shoulder. This depends on your strength and shoulder mobility so start with low weights and feel into this movement. From the lowest point get back to above your chest. This completes one repetition. 


To me, dumbbell exercises are mostly accessory work to target and pump up muscle groups. My powerlifting program does not address some of these. Bodybuilders might even make a pint about using dumbbells a lot more than a barbell. Especially when preparing for a meet. 

Topics: Dumbbell