What Is It: 

The Arnold press—made famous by seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger—is a compound movement that combines a dumbbell shoulder press with a rotation at the bottom. But here, Jennifer Romanelli, a personal trainer and the co-owner of Trooper Fitness in New York City, gives it her own twist by deconstructing the lift into a pyramid set, featuring the two distinct parts of the move—the rotation and the press.

Why Do It: 

“This is the triple threat of shoulder movements, hitting all three sections of the deltoid [the front, the middle, and the rear head] to ensure you end up with boulder shoulders,” Romanelli says.

When To Do It: 

“The Arnold press itself can be added as a superset on chest or shoulder day,” says Romanelli. And she notes that the pyramid set employed here is a great burnout at the end of a shoulder workout.

How To Do It: 

Do regular Arnold presses with light weight to loosen your shoulders. Then sit on a bench and grab two moderate-to-heavy dumbbells. Start with the weights at your shoulders, with your palms facing in. Perform one rotation, moving your arms outward so your palms face forward. Then do one shoulder press. Return to the starting position and do two rotations back-to-back, followed by two presses. Continue in this fashion until you’ve done five reps of each.

The Workout: Press Pyramid 

  • Arnold Press Pyramid: Sets – 3-5 / Reps – 1-5

Tip: Do 1 rotation and 1 press, followed by 2 rotations and 2 presses, continuing this pattern until you’ve completed 5 of each. That’s 1 set.

Safety Tips: This move can be taxing on the rotator cuff, so if you experience any pain, stop immediately.

Bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger working out outdoors at Venice Beach with a barbell bench press exercise

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