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Exercise 101: dumbbell overhead press

Exercise 101: dumbbell overhead press

The dumbbell overhead press has many benefits for your body and is a move which you should work in wherever possible.

The benefits of the dumbbell overhead press include:

  • Working multiple muscle groups – the overhead press works your shoulders, upper back, triceps and biceps in a single move
  • Building your core – to effectively carry out a dumbbell overhead press you need to stabilise your core
  • Extending the range of motion in your shoulder press – using dumbbells allows you to vary your press more easily. Dumbbells also force your arms to work independently so you can build your weaker side (something most of us have).

Perfecting your Dumbbell Overhead Press

Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your wrists turned in to face each other and the dumbbells level with your shoulders. Your knees should be kept relaxed but your core should be fully engaged as you press the weights up above your head. Focus your attention on extending your arms and then bring the weights back down focusing the control on your shoulders.

Common Mistakes with the Dumbbell Overhead Press

There are some common mistakes which will make your press less effective than it could be and could bring on injury and they include:

Moving your arms forward rather than lifting them straight overhead – this could mean your shoulders and back muscles are not working hard enough or not strong enough to keep your hands in line. Your biceps should be in line with your ears and the more you practice the better your form will be. Start slowly to ensure correct form.

Letting your core go weak - your core needs to be held with your chest up throughout your set of dumbbell overhead presses as if you loosen up you won’t experience all the benefits of the exercise and incorrect form can lead to injury through overextension of muscles or forcing them into exertion.

Arching your back – if you find yourself bending or arching your lower back in particular whilst performing this move it is likely you are not focusing on your core or that your hip flexors are held too tightly and your hips are not positioned correctly above your knees.

You can make variations to your overhead press once you’ve got it perfected, including the one arm dumbbell press which is a great choice for helping to build stability in the core and work on your weaker side.


the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.