Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Presses

Culler The CaledonianA staple in almost any shoulder workout routine is the shoulder press. In this article we are going to go over the seated dumbbell press in particular. There are lots of arguments as to the merits of seated versus standing movements and it really depends on the goal of the exercise as to how you perform it. The seated dumbbell press is more for muscular development then sports performance or athletic conditioning.

Here is a quick clip of seated dumbbell presses from a shoulder workout done a few months back. Looks like some heavy weights! As always, there are a bunch more exercise descriptions and videos on this site located in the exercise videos section.

Range of motion is an issue with any dumbbell exercise and the seated press is no different. Again, the method is determined by the goal. Anywhere from contact with the shoulders to the bottoms of the ears is the norm for the bottom position. On the top some people like to touch them for full contraction and other prefer the pump style of non-lockout for constant tension. Power and size or muscular development. Wait a minute, aren’t those two goals connected? Yes they are but that is another article.

If you are going for the pump, a slight pouring in towards the head tilt of dumbbells adds more tension but reduces the amount of weight that can be used. Heavier dumbbell can be used on the seated press if you push straight up and do the shorter pump style movement. If your joints are giving you a problem, then you can make the weights develop more tension in the delts (shoulders) if you slow the tempo and squeeze the contraction at the top with the pouring motion. This is a method made famous by the first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott. As a side note, Larry Scott’s delts were enormous for someone with such a small bone structure. His biceps were huge too!

A typical mass building shoulder workout that includes the seated dumbbell press would look something like this:

Seated Dumbbell Presses 4 X 6-8 reps
Lateral Raises 3 X 8-10 reps
Reverse Pec Deck Laterals 3 X 10-12

Try it out and if you need a finish pump after all that then you were not working hard enough. But just in case, throw in a 20 rep set of front to back standing barbell presses to finish it all off.


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