Seated DB Shoulder Press (1)

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (How To, Muscles Worked)

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press is a great shoulder strength-building exercise that you can incorporate into an upper-body day. There are plenty of shoulder press combinations – barbell, dumbbell, standing, seated – but this combo is definitely one of my favorites.

In this article, I’m going to teach you how to properly perform a Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press, tell you what muscles the exercise works and give you a few alternatives.

How To Do Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells
  • Bench (Adjustable bench is optimal but not completely necessary)

Step-by-Step Instructions


  • Grab two dumbbells and grab a bench.
  • You have two options on the setup for the bench.
  • If you have an adjustable bench, you can choose to adjust the bench up to 90 degrees. This will allow you to lean and brace yourself against the bench as you press.
  • If you don’t have an adjustable bench (or even if you do), simply sit tall with good posture on the bench. This will force you to utilize your core to maintain your posture as you press.


  • Once you’re set up and ready, raise the dumbbells to your shoulders, palms facing forward or slightly towards one another (whichever is more comfortable).
  • Press the dumbbells straight overhead. Dumbbells should come close to one another at full lockout overhead, but should not touch.
  • Lower the dumbbells back down until hands are about ear height and repeat.
  • Continue until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

If you do use an adjustable bench to brace against as you press, make sure not to overarch. There should not be an excessive amount of daylight between your back and the bench.

If there is, there is a good chance you are overarching too much which will place unnecessary stress on the low back.

How Many Reps?

Seated Shoulder Press is an upper-body supplemental strength exercise. I recommend 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps.

Muscles Worked

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Presses, as you might expect, work the shoulders. The triceps also play a part in the press.

The core, especially if sitting without a 90-degree bench, works to stabilize the torso during the movement.

Seated DB Shoulder Press Variations

With just a few slight modifications, you can add some variety to your workouts with these variations.

Seated Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder Press

That’s a mouthful, right? Seated Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder Press has an insanely long name, but the lift itself is pretty simple.

It’s the exact same setup as regular Seated DB Presses. Press both dumbbells overhead to start. Then lower one dumbbell down and press it back up overhead. Continue alternating back and forth until all reps are completed.

Always keep one dumbbell at full extension throughout the movement until the set is done.

Standing DB Shoulder Press

Pretty simple here. Exact same movement except from a standing, instead of sitting, position. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press is an easy variation if you don’t have a bench to use.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives that you can utilize if necessary because of equipment or perhaps an injury. (Or just to switch up your routine a bit)

Front Press

If you don’t have dumbbells (or a bench), but you have a barbell then I would suggest giving Front Press a try.

Front Press, also known as Standing Shoulder Press, is a barbell shoulder press from a standing position. It’s one of the best upper-body movements for building mass and strength.

Single Arm DB Shoulder Press

Single Arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press (1)

If you’re dealing with an injury that’s limiting you to only being able to use one arm, then just use the one arm and do Single Arm Shoulder Press. (Make sure to check with your doctor or athletic training that you are cleared to do so)

More Links and Info

Looking for more great Upper Body Lifts? Head over to the Exercise Library where I’ve got a growing collection of exercises with step-by-step instructions. All for free.

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