Today’s post is a shout out to the bros out there.
And this is assuming the majority of my readers are male. Just a wild guess. ;-O
Or maybe you’re a female and have an affinity for strength and hypertrophy training, sports performance, or I don’t know…my Game of Thrones references.
Which is awesome. And this post is for both men and women.
However, I can’t think of anything more manly than the Arnold Press. So before I get into the meat of this article, if you’ve done the following in the past year, you shouldn’t read on:
1.) Attended a Pilates class.
2.) Ordered a yogurt bowl instead of bacon.
3.) Shopped at LuluLemon.
Bros only. Even female bros, like me. ;-O
Okay, I’ll stop. I have a feeling this post is going to get into heated argument on gender and social constructs. Can’t get away with anything these days, unless I’m being politically correct.
Gender studies aside, let’s dive right into Arnold Presses.
They’re a staple exercise for shoulder strength and hypertrophy, but what is the big effing deal with them?
First, Arnold invented them. I mean come ON. By now we should know where exercises originated from. Just like we should know the Turkish get up came from a dude in Turkey who was half man, half wildebeest.
Kidding. But know your exercise history, damnit.
Second, Arnold Presses work the deltoid from different angles – anterior, posterior, and lateral. Attacking a muscle from a plethora of angles is a bros dream in the physique shaping world.
Sure, this is just glossing over the tip of the iceberg. Synergistic muscles (or secondary movers) also play a key role during this movement. These muscles include the triceps (elbow extension) and the trapezius (scapula stabilization). Due to the rotating movement during the press, it allows for a greater range of motion and more recruitment of muscle fibers.
Boom. That bro enough for you?
But wait…there’s more.
This is primarily a shoulder isolation exercise, especially if you’re performing it seated:
I guess that’s impressive.
If you’re anything like this guy, whether you’re 4 days out from a bodybuilding show, or looking to build shoulder mass and look good naked for your girl, the seated Arnold Press is for you. The load is only on the shoulder and allows you to go high volume.
I also saw this awesome variation called the “Reverse Arnold Press” here:
Moving past isolation work, there are other variations that provide a more “functional” training effect.
In other words, multiple muscles groups from the upper and lower extremity are activated. It’s almost like some magical unicorn wizardry shit.
This reminds me: a few of my colleagues got into an argument about what half kneeling variation of the Arnold Press is best: contralateral or ipsilateral?
It was similar to the battle of the Lannisters and Starks, or the orcs and hobbits, or Vince McMahon and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. There was constant back-and-forth, personal jabs, and insulting exercise science references and blows to the ego. I’m willing to bet someone slapped someone on the head with a Supertraining textbook too.
So which one wins?
Let’s check out the variation in which the load is on the opposite side of the front leg:
If you’re looking for more rotary stability challenge, this one is for you. However, I struggle to keep my back from extending during this variation. This could be because it is hard for me to fire the ipsilateral glute on the moving arm side.
In the other corner, let’s take a look at the variation when the load is on the same side as the front leg:
From a human movement system standpoint, I prefer this variation over the former.
Because I’m forced to fire the contralateral glute to avoid excessive lumbar spine extension. I’m also still getting a core stability challenge since I’m performing an isometric hold with the non-moving side.
We could argue about these two variations until we foam out of our mouths or kill our colleagues.
We can solve all the world’s problems and end all debates on human sub systems by performing this bilaterally:
Keep in mind, any kneeling variation might not allow you to go as heavy or pump out some bro burn out reps.
With that said, there’s benefit to any type of Arnold Press. Maybe one day you’re feeling like bringing out your inner meathead and performing it seated. Or maybe another day you’re feeling adventurous and want to involve your butt in the action. Sorry if that sounded creepy.
Needless to say, it ALL works.
As always, it depends on your goals and what you’re looking to accomplish.
How’s that for an anti-climatic ending to this dissertation?