Seated elbows-in alternating dumbbell overhead press exercise

Seated elbows-in alternating dumbbell overhead press

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Anterior Deltoid
  • Synergists: Clavicular (Upper) Pectoralis Major, Lateral Deltoid, Triceps Brachii, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Serratus Anterior, Internal and External Obliques, Psoas Major, Iliocastalis Lumborum, Iliocastalis Thoracis
  • Dynamic stabilizers: Biceps Brachii (not highlighted in illustration), Triceps Brachii (long head)
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Starting position

  1. Sit on a chair or bench and place one dumbbell on each knee.
  2. Kick the dumbbells up with your knees, one at a time, and position them in front of your shoulders, with your elbows tucked into your body. Your elbows should be directly below your wrists and your palms should be facing each other (i.e. parallel or neutral grip).


  1. Keeping your body still, exhale as you press one dumbbell upward, over your head, until your arm is almost fully extended.
  2. Inhale as you lower the dumbbell to the starting position.
  3. Repeat with your opposite arm.
  4. Keep alternating the arm that you press overhead.

Comments and tips

  • Do not lock out your elbows.
  • Keep your back and neck neutral.
  • Keeping your elbows tucked into your body emphasizes your anterior deltoid and upper pectoralis major and reduces the contribution of your lateral deltoid. What’s more, it eliminates the contribution of your supraspinatus.
  • Pressing one arm at a time puts your body out of balance, which forces the recruitment of stabilizer muscles in your core, such as your obliques, psoas major, iliocastalis lumborum, and iliocastalis thoracis.
  • The seated position keeps your body still and prevents you from cheating by using your legs to generate lift.
  • See also the seated neutral-grip dumbbell overhead press and the seated dumbbell overhead press.

Seated elbows-in alternating dumbbell overhead press video

This is the closest video I could find to the seated elbows-in alternating dumbbell overhead press. The elbows should be tucked in more and, of course, the arms should be alternated.


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