Dumbbell Military Press: key to flaunt muscular sturdy shoulders


Workouts are so much fun when there’s more than one! One of the most attractive parts of a well-built body is the scapula, the tattoos, your tucked suits would look so enticing on your shoulders if they’re in proper shape. An effective exercise for them is Dumbbell Military Press or Dumbbell Shoulder Press. So if you want strong, broad shoulders that make you the envy of everyone in the cabin, add the dumbbell shoulder press to your gym routine

What is a Dumbbell Military Press?

Now, the dumbbell military press is an overhead press that mainly targets the arms and shoulders but can also strengthen the chest and core muscles. It increases strength throughout the shoulders and engages the core for stability. The triceps also work hard in this lift. Many lifters find using dumbbells to be more comfortable and shoulder-friendly for this press variation than a barbell. This can be the primary pressing movement on an upper-body or shoulder day or an effective accessory movement later in a workout.

Dumbbells Military Press allows for more range of motion than a Barbell Military Press and thus are sometimes easier on the joints.

How to do a Dumbbell Military Press?


When you do this exercise the military press targets the deltoid muscles in the shoulders as well as the triceps. Additionally, it works the core and legs, which the lifter uses to help stabilize the weight. It is a weight training exercise with many variations, typically performed while standing, in which a weight is pressed straight upwards from racking position until the arms are locked out overhead, while the legs, lower back, and abs maintain balance. Never go straight into heavy overhead presses. The ball and socket joint of the shoulder and the muscles that surround it are easy to injure, and this is one of the quickest ways to do that.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform a Dumbbell Military Press. However, before that make sure you prep your body by doing two sets of 20 shoulder dislocates with a broom handle and then two sets of 30/30 light push presses – that’s 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest. Do the two sets with no break, then rest for two minutes.

Repeat once more and you’re ready to start working your way through your military press sets – start with lighter weights, a tip many recommendations and advice many ignore resulting in serious injury. Hence, make sure if your beginner with no prior experience, start with lighter weights.

The shoulder muscle comprises three heads: the front (anterior) deltoid or delt, the middle (medial) delt, and the rear (posterior) delt. Too much vertical and horizontal pressing places excessive strain on your front and middle delts, which in the worst-case scenario can result in internally rotated shoulders. Ensure your rear delts are gaining enough stimulation by performing resistance band pull-parts for two sets of 20 to 30 reps. Not only will it benefit your posture, but you’ll be able to retract your shoulder blades more effectively, making you better at performing the military press. A total win-win technique!

Now without any further wait, let’s start with the Military Dumbbell Step by Step guide:
  • The first step is to grab two dumbbells and sit on an incline bench. Make sure the back of the bench is set at a 90-degree angle.
  • Once you’re seated, rest one dumbbell on each thigh. Sit with your lower back firmly against the back of the bench. Keep your shoulders and back as straight as possible.
  • The next step is to raise the dumbbells from your thighs and bring them to shoulder height. If you have heavy dumbbells, raise your thighs one at a time to help lift the dumbbells. Raising a heavy dumbbell with only your arm could cause injury.
  • Now, with the dumbbells at shoulder height, rotate your palms so that they face forward. If you prefer, you can also complete a dumbbell press with your palms facing your body. Make sure your forearms are perpendicular to the ground.
  • Now, press the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended. Hold the weight above your head for a moment, and then lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height. Complete the desired number of reps. But in case if you’re a beginner, start with 1 set of 8–10 repetitions.

If you want to do this exercise by standing then you can start with bending down with your knees to pick up the dumbbells and then stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise the dumbbells to shoulder height. Your palms can face forward or toward your body. Once you have the correct stance, begin pressing the dumbbells above your head until your arms fully extended. Hold this position for a moment, and then bring the dumbbells back to shoulder height. Complete the desired number of reps. And in case, if you’re a beginner, start with 1 set of 8–10 repetitions.

Dumbbell vs Barbell for Military Presses: What’s better?


Yet another million-dollar question, “What’s better? Dumbbell or Barbell for Military Press?” Well, let’s brainstorm! Barbell’s military chest is great, in case if you want to lift loads of weight which isn’t possible in the case of dumbbells. Barbells allow for a higher one-rep max, which can lead to better muscles and strength in the long run. But dumbbell military press also enables you to achieve a slightly greater range of motion than barbells.

Dumbbells also appear to be more effective in terms of trap and lat activation and if your goal is pec development and building a more defined, more muscular chest, the dumbbell is going to be the better play, and they also elicit greater front deltoid activation during seated and standing military presses. The barbell will allow you to theoretically lift more weight. Both of them are different and should be used. So, the answer is ‘Both’. Practice both to reap more benefits but with caution and supervision.

In the barbell bench press, the shoulder blades are not allowed to move freely and the humerus is not allowed to rotate, this forces small stabilizing muscles like rotators cuff to give up soon, as generally, ROM in the bench press is very high. These small muscles are not as strong as pecs and deltoids, so sooner or later the lifter gets injured as his ROM Ego increases. Dumbbell fly’s and press facilitate shoulder blade movements and humerus rotation, thus it trumps barbell bench press but we live in an era where barbell bench press is too important to be relegated against dumbbell bench press, so most people are good with the shoulder injuries while maxing out their bench press numbers.

Depending on the equipment in your gym, it’s likely that you will only have a flat barbell bench and a non-adjustable incline bench. For dumbbell bench press you are likely to have access to an adjustable bench – this will allow you to hit various parts of your pectoral muscles.


A tip to make them easy is you can use lighter weights. This is a good option if you’re worried about putting too much strain on your shoulder joint. Or if you want a hard workout you can use heavier weights, perform an alternating military press, pressing one arm at a time.

Dumbbell Military Press Tips & tricks:

Risks of injuries are always involved in any kind of work-out or exercise. Even in Yoga! And Dumbbell Military Press is no exception as well! Therefore below are some tricks and tips that you can always use to lower the risks of injury while practicing, Dumbbell Military Press:

  • Make sure you are in an upright posture and do all of this in the correct form and To prevent injury to your lower back and neck, keep your glutes and abs contracted as you complete the dumbbell press, knowing the right time to breathe and hold your breath for more power.
  • You can slightly lean back at the start of the movement for more explosive power. When you’re doing this exercise push your head through your arms in the middle of the movement.
  • Taking a deep breath before you start the lift will help stabilize your ribcage and shoulder blades, Breathe out as you press the weight up and breathe in as you lower it.
  • For good balance, aim to keep your forearms vertical throughout the move to keep the weight balanced and put the load through the elbow rather than the wrist. Don’t go below your chin.
  • If you lower the bar too far you’re likely to excessively internally rotate your shoulders and you’ll take the emphasis of the weight off your deltoids, so only go as low as your chin.

The military press is a difficult, technical lift with little room for error. To avoid making your way into a gym fails compilation video, select a weight that allows you to perform strictly, controlled repetitions.


Overall, Dumbbell Military Press is a great workout and it makes your shoulders very strong and stiff. But, if balance, range of motion, or ego is a problem for you, the dumbbell shoulder press won’t be the right choice. If you perform half reps with massive amounts of weight you are asking for trouble down the road. Some also have difficulty getting the weight up to the starting position, to begin with. It is a type of exercise that you can do with or without a trainer you’ll just need dumbbells. One can try the easier method at first and then go to a harder one but always do any kind of warm-up including stretching to avoid muscle problems.

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