Build Broad Shoulders with Traditional Dumbbell Presses

One of the best and safest exercises for all-around shoulder development is the Seated Dumbbell Press.

The basic movement is simple:

  1. Take a pair of moderate weight dumbbells in each hand. You may want to start with light dumbbells until you’re familiar with the motion.

  2. Sit comfortably on a bench and lift the dumbbells onto your shoulders. This is your starting position.

  3. Push the dumbbells upward toward the ceiling. Keep your torso and head straight, only your arms should be moving.

  4. Hold the dumbbells above your head, slightly turned in, your elbows nearly extended. It’s not necessary to fully lock out your elbows.

  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells to your deltoids, feeling the weight during the negative (or eccentric) portion of the movement.

  6. Once the dumbbells reach your shoulders, immediately push them back upward in a smooth motion. Do not bounce.

  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions (8-12) and sets (2-3).

When doing seated presses for shoulder development, you want to maintain the stress on your delts by not locking out your elbows in the top position.

Locking your elbows out actually serves to take the weight off your delts and thus gives them a momentary break from the set. This break is clearly counter-productive to shoulder development.

By maintaining continuous tension on the delts, you’ll dramatically increase the effectiveness of this movement. You may have to drop your poundage down slightly, but I’ve found that with most people shoulders respond well to highly controlled, continuous tension sets.