Dumbbell Shoulder Palm Presses

If you want wider shoulders, you've gotta work your side delts.

However, the staple exercises like barbell and dumbbell shoulder press only work the side delts to a limited degree...they tend to put a lot of focus on the front delts.

I've got a version of the dumbbell shoulder press that's going to change that...

It's going to not only focus the tension on the side delts, it's also going to focus the tension better on the delts just in general by minimizing tricep involvement.

 

It's all in how you hold the dumbbell...

You see, one interesting thing I've found with training in general is that an open hand position when pressing increases muscle activation in the target muscles.

I believe it's one of the reasons that bodyweight exercises like push-ups (which use an open hand) give better muscle activation than versions where your hand is gripping on something (which I find tends to shift focus to the triceps somewhat).

Now, I don't know if it's because of the greater contact with the surface of the palm or the wrist position/angle or what the reason....there could be several different explanations.

Whatever the reason, now we're going to apply that open-hand concept to free weight training with this method.

 



 

How To Do It:

First, I'm going to show you what the hand position looks like, then I'm going to tell you how to get the dumbbell into position in the easiest fashion.

So here's what it looks like in the picture below. As you can see, the dumbbell is vertical and resting on my upper arm at the bottom. My hand is rotated around so my fingers are pointing in towards my head and my palm in on the underside of the dumbbell plates. I have my my thumb hooked around the handle to keep it solidly gripped.

Target Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm Presses

This open-hand position is totally what we're looking for in the exercise. Also, because the bottom dumbbell plates are braced against your forearm, it allows for a unique bit of additional resistance at the top, as you straighten your elbow and push the plates up at and angle due to the leverage of the dumbbell against your arm (easier to see than explain - you'll see it below).

 

Here's how to get it into position.

First, set the dumbbell on the floor in front of you, handle perpendicular to your body. I'll do a faraway shot and a closer-up shot to make it easier to see.

Target Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm PressesTarget Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm Presses

Notice how my thumb and forefinger are spread apart...you're going to be gripping your thumb around the handle like this.

Now grip the handle and set your palm flat against the underside of the near plates.

Next grip the handle with your other hand - you'll be using help to get the dumbbell up into position.

Target Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm PressesTarget Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm Presses

Now use both hands to lift the dumbbell up to your shoulder.

Take your other hand off, making sure your thumb is hooked around the handle then you're ready to start.

Target Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm PressesTarget Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm Presses

Then press up, just like you would a normal standing dumbbell shoulder press.

As you'll see in this pic below, as I extend my elbow, the act of straightening it leverages the dumbbell to an angle. And because it's a weight, you actually get resistance in that small angled-lockout movement which puts even more tension on the lateral delt.

Target Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm Presses

Do all your reps on side (about 6 to 10 reps is good) then grab the dumbbell handle with your other hand again and bring the dumbbell back down to the floor. Re-grip with the other hand and repeat.

Target Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm PressesTarget Your Side Delts for Wider Shoulders With Dumbell Shoulder Palm Presses

One of the other bonuses with this exercise is the core work. Because you're only pressing with one arm, it places great stabilizing requirements on the core muscles.

You will notice that range of motion is shorter with this exercise than with regular shoulder presses. And the heavier you go, the shorter the range gets because of the number of dumbbell plates.

This is something you could fix if you have adjustable dumbbells, loading more on the top end and less on the bottom end. Generally speaking, though, it won't be much of an issue.

Learn how to perform Two-Bar Shoulder Presses in the Rack.

 

 


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