Gym Shorts: Seated Dumbbell Press

New to the seated dumbbell press or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

How To Seated Dumbbell Press

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps

  • Set up
    • Neutral grip
    • Elbows forward
    • Hands around chin height
    • Sit upright with back unsupported
    • Feet shoulder width apart
    • Look straight ahead
  • Top
    • Dumbbells directly over shoulders
    • Pronated grip: palms facing out
    • Wrists locked into place
    • Elbows fully extended
  • Movement
    • Rotate wrists so palms face forward on the way up
    • Internal rotation & pronation (way up)
    • Rotate wrists so palms face each other on the way down
    • External rotation & supination (way down)
    • Dumbbell close to the shoulder and elbows tight to the body

What It Is

The seated dumbbell overhead press is an accessory lift that mimics the barbell press and barbell seated press. It requires dumbbells, kettlebells, or some other similar object and a bench. We prefer these done without back support, as the muscles the abdominal and low back still work to stabilize the torso.


This exercise provides greater stress for the triceps, deltoids, forearm muscles, and pecs. Because it trains the muscles that contribute to the press, we primarily program it for greater hypertrophic stress–to build the muscles that contribute to overhead press strength, ultimately adding muscle mass and improving the overhead press.

During the concentric portion of the movement, we internally rotate the shoulders, pronate the forearms, and twist the dumbbell so the palms face forward at the top. During the eccentric portion of the movement, we externally rotate the shoulders, supinate the forearms, and twist the dumbbells so the palms face each other in the bottom.

Unless a lifter does not have access to a barbell (for example, training in a hotel gym or prevented from training in a public gym) we tend to program these as an accessory lift to provide additional stress for the press and the muscles that contribute to the press (triceps, deltoids, and pectoralis major, primarily).

We tend to program these for advanced athletes who both have access to dumbbells and want to build muscle to enable greater strength for the muscles that contribute to the barbell bench press (or–maybe–who simply want to get more jacked).

Because it’s hard to perform these at high intensities, we recommend programming higher rep sets: 2-5 x 6-15.

These are generally performed near the end of the workout, after the bigger barbell movements have been performed, and they can be performed in a circuit or in a superset with other exercises.

If you’re advanced athlete looking to build your press (or the muscle that contribute to the bench press) or you find yourself in a hotel gym without access to barbells consider adding the dumbbell bench press to your program.

Click HERE for our step-by-step tutorial on the press (overhead standing barbell press) and HERE to learn more about the muscles worked in the press.




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