Best shoulder-press: standing and with dumbbells
If you do the shoulder-press standing up and using dumbbells you use far less weight than if you do it sitting and with a barbell. But the standing version with dumbbells results in stronger and bigger shoulder muscles write Norwegian sports scientists in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Shoulders & exercises
There are already scores of studies in which sports scientists have hooked athletes' muscles up to electrodes, then got them to do all sorts of exercises and measured which variation best activates the muscles. The studies have shown, for example, that you can train your core muscles better by doing planks than crunches, that it's better to do bench presses with a bar than with a Smith machine, and that you'll do a better lat-pulldown by using an overhand rather than an underhand grip.
There aren't too many of these studies when it comes to training shoulder muscles, although we do know that it's best to perform the neck-press and shoulder-press with dumbbells rather than a barbell.
The Norwegians got 15 young strength athletes, who had been training on average for five years with weights, to perform the shoulder-press with a barbell and with dumbbells, in both a seated position and standing. The subjects used 80 percent of the weight at which they could just manage 1 rep.
The figure below shows that the weight the subjects were able to train with was higher when they were sitting rather than standing, and it was also higher when they used a barbell rather than dumbbells.
So the most difficult way to perform the shoulder-press is standing and with dumbbells. Nevertheless, when the subjects did the shoulder-press in this way the researchers recorded the most activity in the shoulder muscles. The figures below show the activity in the rearmost, the middle and the foremost shoulder muscles respectively.
The Norwegians think that it's more difficult to maintain stability when standing rather than sitting, and that it's more difficult to keep dumbbells steady than it is to stabilise a barbell. So that makes a standing shoulder-press with dumbbells not only more difficult, but also more effective.
The researchers think that this version of the shoulder-press is definitely interesting for strength athletes who are recovering from a shoulder injury. Using relatively low weights these athletes can still stimulate development in their shoulder muscles.
J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Jul;27(7):1824-31.
For the perfect neck-press use dumbbells 28.06.2010