This lesser known shoulder pressing exercise may be a welcome change to an athlete’s routine, providing a slightly different stimulus due to the internal rotation of the shoulder during the first part of the lift.
The front (anterior) and side (lateral) heads of the shoulder are worked by the Arnold press, as are the triceps and the trapezius muscles, although to a lesser degree. The use of dumbbells during overhead pressing exercises may help those who appear to have strength imbalances, as the dumbbells force the athlete to work unilaterally, or in other words, each side of the body has to press equal loads. Dumbbells also often require a greater recruitment of assisting muscle groups to aid stabilisation.
We recommend you familiarise yourself with the proper execution of the Arnold press prior to trying it yourself. It is fairly common to see it performed wrongly, with the athlete not simultaneously rotating the arms as they press the dumbbells upwards, and instead performing the rotation as a separate movement prior to the press.