Give it a Go - Shoulder Presses

Shoulder Presses are a great exercise for your upper and mid body, by working your triceps, shoulders and abdominals. Being able to do Shoulder Presses correctly is a great test of your strength and is something many people struggle with.

Shoulder Presses don't require much equipment (if you don't have any dumbbells you can use objects like food tins, water bottles or get somebody to carefully push down on your hands), don't need much room and they can be performed anywhere and varied in so many ways.

Please see my Matt Swaz Fitness Video on how to perform the Shoulder Press.

Poor technique is common when people do Shoulder Presses, don't rush the exercise at the expense of form - you won't get the full benefit of the exercise. The following are a few tips on how to perform Shoulder Presses safely and correctly

  • Stand or sit (on a bench/chair/step etc) with your legs approximately shoulder width apart and your feet firmly on the floor. Grasp a dumbbell (or whatever resistance object you are using) in each hand and lift them so that they are approximately in line with your shoulders, palms facing forward. Sitting down to perform the exercise is useful for a beginner as it provides a stable base for your core and back. Standing up with challenge your core muscles more.
  • Ensure your abdominals are contracted, your head and chest lifted and your back is straight.
  • With control, powerfully press the dumbbells upwards by extending the arms and then arc them inwards so the dumbbells come towards each other. Don't lock your arms out fully on extension.
  • Pause for a second at the top and then with control lower the dumbbells (or whatever resistance object you are using) back down to the start position.
  • Using a smooth motion, breathe in on the way down and out on the way up.
  • Avoid letting your elbows lock out at the top, your upper body bending forward/back or your arms falling down quickly on the downward phase of the shoulder press.

As a starter, aim to complete 12 repetitions and see if you can do this 2-3 times. If you can't don't worry. Build up to it. You are best doing 8 correct Shoulder Presses with safe and proper technique to work the targeted muscles rather than 12 incorrect ones.  Please see my bank of 'Give it a Go - Shoulder Press Exercises'.

In future blogs, I will suggest ways that you can make the Shoulder Presses more challenging or if needed a little easier. For instance, you can incorporate a squat or a bicep curl.

Please remember to warm up thoroughly before exercising and to speak to your GP before starting any exercise programme. Should you require any help, advice or information please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be delighted to discuss with you the tried and tested methods and lifestyle changes that I have developed to help people achieve their health and fitness goals.

Keep up the great work,

Live life actively,



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