T Nation

DB Shoulder Press Weight


Can anyone high incline DB press their weight or anything close to it with
a full range of motion and not arching their back like crazy for 8-10 reps?

Let alone have you ever seen anyone that can do that?


How do you "dumbbell press" your weight?

Your weight in both dumbbells or half your weight in each dumbbell?


half of your weight in each dumbbell


That's less than 150lbs for most people...so yes, I have done that but don't use dumbbells anymore.


why no more dumbbells? I assume that you switched to barbell seated?


Is that because of the limitation of dumbbell size? My gym only carries up to 125


More that when I first got to 140lbs years back, I felt like I needed a spotter or else I started getting shoulder inflammation. I just found better movements...plus my front delts grow from incline chest work also.

My gym back then went to 150lbs but like only two people in the gym used them.


No, I actually started with barbells, then moved to dumbbells and barbells...then started using more machines once my strength level was pretty advanced.


what are the better movements?

I've always DB high inclined as my main shoulder movement.....I used to rep out barbell shoulder presses at the end of shoulder day; however they always felt a bit awkward so I switched to the shoulder press machine as my get a lot of blood flow to the muscle I just tore up before drinking my postworkout shake movement.

Even with the whole stack of weights the shoulder press machine @ my gym feels light.

Do I need to go to a different gym with a better shoulder press machine and do those as my main shoulder movement to get better results? I'm def not @ the point where I'm shoulder pressing dumbbells so big that they're causing me discomfort; and I don't use a spot I just ask someone to hand them to me on my knees when I'm sitting down I have no problem with the rock/kickback.

But just curious if you feel that shoulder press machines are superior.


Your lifting life is a game of progression...starting out with a sawed off rifle and narrowing down what you need until you have a sniper.

Dumbbells are a good movement...however, if the weight you are using to see more progress sets you back further due to longer recovery times or injury, you may see value in finding an alternative even if it means dropping the weight a little.

It isn't about what are "better movements" in some general sense.

It is about what is "best for YOU" at the stage you are at.

Dumbbells worked great for me...several years ago when I was walking around in a completely different body.

They are not great for me now.

Figuring out when to make those changes is why my shoulders look like that.


"It isn't about what are "better movements" in some general sense.

It is about what is "best for YOU" at the stage you are at."

Well said.


Thx for your input I was starting a thread trying to show off but I actually ended up learning something.


...well this turned out better than expected.


"In theory" DB are better than barbells because they provide more freedom of movement and require more stabilization.

But in real life they are not always better for several reasons:

1) Insufficient weight (e.g. if the dumbbells do not go high enough when you get strong)

2) Spending more energy bringing the DB to the starting position then lowering them back down when the set is over takes more energy that can actually leave you performing worse during the actual sets.

3) When you fatigue or the weight gets heavy you can become limited by your capacity to stabilize the weight before fully stimulating the prime movers. This is especially true of lifters with less solid technique.

4) DB are a bit more risky, especially when the set is over and you bring the DB down. I've seen a lot of people get injured after their set, not during it.

5) While DB actually provide the opportunity to use a greater range of motion, in real life they seem to be conductive to shortening the range of motion. I see a lot more people doing 1/2 DB bench presses than doing 1/2 bench presses. My theory is that with a barbell you have a visual cue were the barbell is (e.g. on the chest, 1" from the chest, etc.) whereas with DB it is harder to tell when doing the set as the bar is not in your direct field of vision and in the same area as your body.

For comparison purposes, normally the weight you can use on DB movements is 80% / 2 of the barbell equivalent. For example, if you can barbell bench press 315 for 5 reps you can normally DB bench press 125lbs DB x 5 reps. So from experience, one who can do a lot more than that on DBs is likely not using a full range of motion. For example if you can bench press 315 x 5, but can do 150 DB x 5 you are likely shortening your stroke too much.


I've seen more and more people not doing full range of motion exercises. These people aren't the gym rats either, these are the pro's and those trying to get to pro level.

I can understand wanting to stay under tension, but when should press doesn't go below the top of the head or chest press is more an invisible board press, I have to question the validity of full range of motion. Especially since the guys that have done full rom for their careers end up with injury.

Does it make more sense to do the partial range and then just maintain flexibility and that will give a healthier, longer-lasting body, or is full rom really that important?


I was always a fan of DBs over BB for shoulder pressing because I felt that they allowed me to make use of more of an Arcing motion as opposed to just another pressing movement which for me, usually allowed more work being done with my triceps. Also, as I got to know my body better, I started focusing on the BOTTOM 2/3s of the ROM, which I always felt allowed me to really keep the stress primarily onl the delts without my tris assisting so much.

It's usually the case with gym rats only doing the limited ROM but in the upper range that you see less than deltoid optimal growth, false perceptions of strength levels, and possibly aching joints from the usual locking out that accompanies such an approach IMO. With Pros though, these guys have been training for so long that with all factors considered (and I'm not going to turn this into one of 'those' threads if you know what I mean), they've been making progress for years, so they continue with what has worked for them so far and have no reason to do otherwise IMO.

With my own approach to training around my natural strength levels, I positioned my pressing work at the end of my shoulder sessions, after laterals, rear delt work, and reverse BB presses to pre-exhaust the anterior portion. Even then I could still rep the 100's in a slow and controlled manner. Of course no true bodybuilder really cares about how much he can lift, and believe me when I say that I'd have been very happy being able to lift less weight and get the same growth from it without putting so much pressure on my joints in the process.



I always find it funny when people limit the ROM to focus the target muscle, when most limit the ROM to lift more weight and ultimately don't even hit the actual muscle the exercise is primarily for.

Also, I hate Shoulder Press after pre-exhaust. I always feel like such a pansy, and damn that weight is tough... must be doing something right :P.


That really depends on the results seen.

If some guy has giant shoulders then his ROM is probably just right for what his goals are.


I wonder if the guy in the towel consented to being in X's avatar.......


Personally I am a fan of limiting rom. It's the only reason my chest has grown more since jan than it did in 1.5 yrs of training. Same with back work, leg work, and shoulder work for only a couple exercises.