We’ve assembled four overhead press variations that all have the essential elements of the standard overhead press but with striking differences in form, which will stress and target your musculature in dramatically different ways.

Think traditional seated overhead barbell presses are your golden ticket to shoulder mass? You can adjust the safeties from week to week as you gain strength at each level.

If you haven’t tried the Arnold press, you’ve been missing out on one of the best moves for your delts. An avid outdoor fan, she regularly hikes, climbs and trail runs. Dumbbells can be positioned with the knuckles back and the palms facing forward, or presses can be performed with the knuckles turned outward and the palms facing the ears.

What that means is that your delts are recruited for a longer period of time and through a greater range motion with dumbbells than during an overhead barbell press.

At first, you may be forced to use a lighter weight than you’d use for seated overhead presses, but once your lower back strengthens through adaptation, you’ll be able to lift as much — and likely much more — weight standing as you do when you’re seated. Because you keep your elbows out to your sides during standard overhead dumbbell presses, the emphasis remains primarily focused on the middle delts.

Gasp, the thought!

First of all, the most powerful portion of your body — your legs — are nonexistent during the seated version, despite the fact that many seated overhead press stations have foot plates/bars to press against.

The more traditional press with the knuckles back focuses work on the front and side shoulders muscles, while turning the knuckles inwards places greater emphasis on the side shoulders muscles alone. From a standing position, your legs and knees absorb the downward shock of the movement, and you can use your legs to help propel the bar back overhead on each rep. Again, once your lower back (not to mention your abs and transverse abdominis (think core) strengthen and combine with the contribution of the legs, you’re immediately able to press more weight overhead. First and most obvious, the bar isn’t going to crash down upon your head nor will you have to struggle to rack the weight after failure (and we’ve all been there).

Overhead presses work the front and side shoulder muscles and also engage the trapezius muscles---shoulder muscles at the base of the neck--- and the triceps. For all the benefits the traditional overhead barbell press affords, the dumbbell version keeps pace stride for stride. Power Pointer: With standing moves, a slight thrust can help you push heavier weights than when done seated. Both of these moves will help you achieve better gains at the gym, the question is, which one is better? Because you’re seated, your lower back and legs are, for lack of a better term, at rest. In fact, that added confidence factor actually brings us to the next main point, which is simply the amount of stress or weight you can place upon your shoulders in a partial environment. Ready? As you increase that weight, your shoulders and arms become bigger and stronger as they adapt to the increased overload and stress.

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