Dumbbell Shoulder Press Weight Standards (seated + standing)

Dumbbell shoulder press weight standards.

For the best shoulder pressing (also called overhead pressing) results, you should be lifting a suitable amount of weight. This post reveals seated and standing dumbbell shoulder press weight standards that allow you to benchmark your performance.

A respectable dumbbell shoulder press for the average male beginner is 25-60% of body weight for 1 repetition and both dumbbells combined. Intermediates and advanced lifters should be able to lift 60-100% and 75-125% of body weight (respectively) for 1 rep.

The weight standards in this post will help you determine what is a respectable weight to be lifting based on your variation (standing vs sitting), gender, body weight, and training experience.

My seated and standing dumbbell shoulder press strength standards are based on 5 years of weight training experience.
These dumbbell shoulder press strength standards are based on my 5-years of weight training experience.

How To Use These Weight Standards

How to use these seated and standing dumbbell shoulder press weight standards.

1) Determining your training level:

  • Beginners have practiced the dumbbell shoulder press for 1-12 months.
  • Intermediates have practiced the dumbbell shoulder press for 12-36 months.
  • Advanced lifters have practiced the dumbbell shoulder press for 4 years or more.

2) Choosing your rep range:

The weight standards are given for:

  • 1-rep max (1RM)- this is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a single repetition. It’s often used as a strength standard.
  • 6-10 working reps- this is generally considered to be the ideal rep range for building muscle.

3) Selecting your gender and body weight:

  • Average dumbbell shoulder press weight standards are revealed for common body weights.
  • Male shoulder press standards are given.
  • Females can use a 60% conversion (multiply the weight standard by 0.60).

4) Reading the charts:

  • Weight standards are given as lbs on the top and kg on the bottom.
  • If you’re doing the shoulder press with dumbbells at or above the weight standard for your given training level, body weight, and gender, then you are lifting a respectable amount of weight.

Beginner Dumbbell Shoulder Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be dumbbell shoulder pressing as a beginner:

BodyweightVariation1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
Standing30lb
14kg
25lb
11kg
25lb
11kg
24lb
11kg
23lb
11kg
22lb
10kg
120lb
54kg
Seated36lb
16kg
30lb
14kg
30lb
14kg
28lb
18kg
28lb
18kg
26lb
12kg
150lb
68kg
Standing48lb
22kg
40lb
18kg
39lb
18kg
38lb
17kg
37lb
17kg
35lb
16kg
150lb
68kg
Seated42lb
19kg
35lb
16kg
34lb
16kg
34lb
15kg
33lb
15kg
31lb
14kg
200lb
91kg
Standing56lb
25kg
47lb
21kg
46lb
21kg
45lb
20kg
44lb
20kg
41lb
19kg
200lb
91kg
Seated84lb
38kg
71lb
32kg
69lb
31kg
67lb
30kg
66lb
30kg
61lb
28kg
250lb
113kg
Standing104lb
47kg
87lb
40kg
85lb
39kg
83lb
38kg
81lb
37kg
76lb
34kg
250lb
113kg
Seated128lb
58kg
108lb
49kg
105lb
48kg
102lb
46kg
100lb
45kg
93lb
42kg
300lb
136kg
Standing130lb
59kg
109lb
50kg
107lb
48kg
104lb
47kg
101lb
46kg
95lb
43kg
300lb
136kg
Seated170lb
77kg
143lb
65kg
139lb
63kg
136lb
62kg
133lb
60kg
124lb
56kg

Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, beginners should be able to do the shoulder press with dumbbells that weigh 25 to 40% of their body weight whilst standing, or 30 to 60% of their body weight whilst seated.

This is for both dumbbells combined and for a single repetition (1-rep max).

Intermediate Dumbbell Shoulder Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be dumbbell shoulder pressing as an intermediate:

BodyweightVariation1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
Standing88lb
40kg
74lb
34kg
72lb
33kg
70lb
32kg
69lb
31kg
64lb
29kg
120lb
54kg
Seated70lb
32kg
59lb
27kg
57lb
26kg
56lb
25kg
55lb
25kg
51lb
23kg
150lb
68kg
Standing118lb
54kg
99lb
45kg
97lb
44kg
94lb
43kg
92lb
42kg
86lb
39kg
150lb
68kg
Seated110lb
50kg
92lb
42kg
90lb
41kg
88lb
40kg
86lb
39kg
80lb
36kg
200lb
91kg
Standing160lb
73kg
134lb
61kg
131lb
60kg
128lb
58kg
125lb
57kg
117lb
53kg
200lb
91kg
Seated176lb
80kg
148lb
67kg
144lb
65kg
141lb
64kg
137lb
62kg
128lb
58kg
250lb
113kg
Standing198lb
90kg
166lb
75kg
162lb
74kg
158lb
72kg
154lb
70kg
145lb
66kg
250lb
113kg
Seated236lb
107kg
198lb
90kg
194lb
88kg
189lb
86kg
184lb
83kg
172lb
78kg
300lb
136kg
Standing232lb
105kg
195lb
88kg
190lb
86kg
186lb
84kg
181lb
82kg
169lb
77kg
300lb
136kg
Seated292lb
132kg
1245lb
11kg
239lb
109kg
234lb
106kg
228lb
103kg
213lb
97kg

Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, intermediates should be able to do the shoulder press with dumbbells that weigh 70 to 80% of their body weight whilst standing, or 60 to 100% of their body weight whilst seated.

This is for both dumbbells combined and for a single repetition.

Advanced Dumbbell Shoulder Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be dumbbell shoulder pressing as an advanced lifter:

BodyweightVariation1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
Standing130lb
59kg
109lb
50kg
107lb
48kg
104lb
47kg
101lb
46kg
95lb
43kg
120lb
54kg
Seated92lb
42kg
77lb
35kg
75lb
34kg
74lb
33kg
72lb
33kg
67lb
30kg
150lb
68kg
Standing164lb
74kg
138lb
62kg
134lb
61kg
131lb
60kg
128lb
58kg
120lb
54kg
150lb
68kg
Seated158lb
72kg
133lb
60kg
130lb
59kg
126lb
57kg
123lb
56kg
115lb
52kg
200lb
91kg
Standing214lb
97kg
180lb
82kg
175lb
80kg
171lb
78kg
167lb
76kg
156lb
71kg
200lb
91kg
Seated234lb
106kg
197lb
89kg
192lb
87kg
187lb
85kg
183lb
83kg
171lb
77kg
250lb
113kg
Standing256lb
116kg
215lb
98kg
210lb
95kg
205lb
93kg
200lb
91kg
187lb
85kg
250lb
113kg
Seated304lb
138kg
255lb
116kg
249lb
113kg
243lb
110kg
237lb
108kg
222lb
101kg
300lb
136kg
Standing296lb
134kg
249lb
113kg
243lb
110kg
237lb
107kg
231lb
105kg
216lb
98kg
300lb
136kg
Seated368lb
167kg
309lb
140kg
302lb
137kg
294lb
134kg
287lb
130kg
269lb
122kg

Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, advanced lifters should be able to do the shoulder press with dumbbells that weigh 100 to 110% of their body weight whilst standing, or 75 to 125% of their body weight whilst seated.

This is for both dumbbells combined and for a single repetition.

How Good Is Your Dumbbell Shoulder Press Vs Others?

Here’s the average percentage of people who can shoulder press at a fraction of their own body weight using dumbbells:

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 1RM Weight (as a fraction of body weight)% Of People Who Can Do ItSeated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 1RM Weight (as a fraction of body weight)% Of People Who Can Do It
0.10x100%0.10x100%
0.20x1000.20x100%
0.30x98%0.30x99%
0.40x94%0.40x96%
0.50x87%0.50x91%
0.60x77%0.60x82%
0.70x64%0.70x72%
0.80x50%0.80x59%
0.90x37%0.90x47%
1.00x26%1.00x36%
1.10x17%1.10x26%
1.20x11%1.20x18%
1.30x7%1.30x12%
1.40x4%1.40x8%
1.50x2%1.50x5%
1.60x1%1.60x3%
1.70x0.7%1.70x2%
1.80x0.3%1.80x1%
1.90x0.2%1.90x0.5%
2.00x0.1%2.00x0.3%

Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

This allows you to compare your standards with others and determine how good your strength is.

To calculate your dumbbell shoulder press as a fraction of your own body weight, simply divide the weight of your 1RM by your body weight.

For example: if you weigh 180lbs and your 1RM is 50lbs, then you’re lifting 0.28x your body weight (50lbs ÷ 180lbs).

The above chart indicates:

  • 75% of people can dumbbell shoulder press (standing) 0.65x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the lower quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for beginners to achieve.
  • 50% of people can dumbbell shoulder press (standing) 0.80x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the median quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a realistic target for beginners to aim towards with enough training.
  • 25% of people can dumbbell shoulder press (standing) 1.00x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the upper quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a realistic target for intermediates to aim towards with enough training.
  • 75% of people can dumbbell shoulder press (seated) 0.65x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the lower quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for beginners to achieve.
  • 50% of people can dumbbell shoulder press (seated) 0.90x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the median quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a realistic target for beginners to aim towards with enough training.
  • 25% of people can dumbbell shoulder press (seated) 1.10x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the upper quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a realistic target for intermediates to aim towards with enough training.

5 Reasons Why Your Dumbbell Shoulder Pressing Strength Is Below Average

The deltoids (primary target muscles in the shoulder press) are some of the most difficult muscles to grow.

Here are 5 common reasons why you may find it difficult to do the shoulder press using dumbbells, and why your weight standards are below average.

I’ve also shared solutions for each problem.

These solutions can help to improve your overhead press.

1) Weak stabilizing muscles.

Dumbbell shoulder pressing requires stronger stabiliser muscles compared to barbell to lift maximum weight
Dumbbell movements are inherently unstable compared to barbells and this can make it difficult when beginners start shoulder pressing.

The shoulder press is a compound movement primarily driven by the deltoids and triceps.

But stabilizing activity also comes from the biceps, core, and upper back to help you maintain balance and keep a rigid torso. This is especially true for dumbbell movements that are naturally unstable.

If your stabilizer muscles are weak, then you won’t be able to shoulder press as much weight.

Therefore weak stabilizers can be a major chokepoint in your shoulder pressing strength progression.

Solution:

Your stabilizers will naturally become stronger as you practice the dumbbell shoulder press.

For the smoothest progression, I recommend starting with manageable weights and lifting with good form (see next).

Apply progressive overload by increasing dumbbell weight in small increments whenever you find your current sets becoming easy to complete.

This will force your stabilizers to become stronger over time.

2) Improper form and technique.

Use a weight bench to keep your back straight in the seated dumbbell shoulder press.
The seated dumbbell shoulder press variation prevents you from cheating with body momentum and this can help you build shoulder strength faster.

The dumbbell shoulder press is a technical move that requires you to apply good lifting form cues to gain the greatest strength-building benefits.

Common beginner form mistakes usually revolve around reducing the range of motion in an effort to lift more weight:

  • Half reps. Not bringing the dumbbells down to shoulder level before pressing them back up.
  • Cheat reps. Using the hips and legs to generate upward momentum to help press the dumbbells up.

Both of these mistakes can negatively impact your overall dumbbell shoulder press strength progression.

Solution:

Use a suitable dumbbell weight– one that you can manage.

Lift with a full range of motion. Both dumbbells should reach just above the shoulder line before you press them up.

Brace your core before each rep by inhaling and forcing your diaphragm into your stomach.

Make a conscious effort to keep your back straight. A curved back puts strain on your spine and can reduce the amount of dumbbell weight you can lift on the shoulder press.

This is where a good weight bench like the Flybird (link for my review) can really help. The vertical backrest helps to support your back as you press your dumbbells.

3) Using an incorrect rep range

Changing your rep range can improve a dumbbell shoulder press that is below average.
Changing from moderate-high rep ranges of 8-15 to low rep ranges of 5-6 per set can be highly effective for the dumbbell shoulder press.

General consensus dictates that lifting in the moderate-high 8-15 rep ranges is best for muscle hypertrophy (growth).

However, the shoulder press is an exception for many people.

It’s not uncommon for beginners and trained lifters alike to struggle to lift high rep ranges when shoulder pressing.

And lifting in an unsuitable rep range can limit your strength progression.

Solution:

Don’t be afraid of trying different rep ranges to find one that’s suitable for you.

I like to reduce to 5 repetitions per set on the dumbbell shoulder press. I find it easier to apply progressive overload when lifting in a low rep range, and this facilitates strength gains.

However, for a low rep range to be effective, you need to be lifting the correct weight.

I recommend using a weight that is 85-90% of your 1RM in the 5-rep range.

4) Misaligned wrist and elbow

Stacked vs unstacked dumbbells and elbows in the shoulder press.
Keep the dumbbells stacked over your elbows to lift the most weight.

The position of your wrists, dumbbells, and elbows plays a crucial role in how much weight you can shoulder press.

Firstly, if the dumbbells aren’t aligned with your elbows (commonly called an “elbow stack”) then you lose a lot of pressing strength.

Secondly, your wrists become strained if they are hyperextended (bent outwards) or hyperflexed (bent inwards).

Thirdly, your shoulder becomes internally rotated if your elbows flare out too much. And this can cause pain and discomfort.

All mistakes can make the dumbbell shoulder press difficult and cause your strength standards to be below average.

Solution:

Stack the dumbbells by making sure they sit directly above your elbows at approximately 180°.

Tuck the elbows slightly in towards the torso. They should not be flared outwards.

Keep a neutral wrist. This means the flat of your palms should be in line with your forearms.

Applying these 3 form cues should allow you to lift more weight on the dumbbell shoulder press and this can promote the first signs of muscle and strength gain.

5) Not following a bulking diet.

What a bulking diet looks like.
Identify and include more high-calorie and protein-rich foods in your diet to bulk up.

Bulking is crucial to make significantly noticeable size and strength gains.

So if you’re finding it difficult to increase your dumbbell shoulder press, or if you are lifting weights that are below the given weight standards, then it’s worth looking at your diet.

Speaking from personal experience, skinny beginners commonly undereat. And this is a major choking point for strength progression.

Solution:

Go on a bulk!

Determine your maintenance calories using the TDEE calculator and add 5-15%. This is how many calories you should be eating to fuel muscle growth.

Additionally, consume 1g of protein per lb of body weight.

For a complete guide, you can check out my home bulking program for skinny guys.

Other Weight Standards For Dumbbell Shoulder Press Muscles

The dumbbell shoulder press is a vertical compound pushing movement that primarily works the anterior, posterior, and lateral delts, but also the triceps. Here are weight standards for other exercises that hit similar muscle groups:

  • Lateral raise– an isolation-type movement that emphasizes the lateral delts.
  • Dumbbell bench press– a horizontal pressing exercise that shifts the emphasis from the delts to the pecs.
  • Dips– a compound pushing exercise that’s an effective bodyweight alternative to the bench press.
  • Tricep extension– an isolation-type movement that works the triceps.

You may also be interested in my other post on the shoulder press world records.

Conclusion

My standing and seated dumbbell shoulder press weight standards help you to determine whether or not you are lifting a respectable amount of weight for your capabilities.

Beginners should be able to do 1 rep using around 25-60% of their body weight (both dumbbells combined).

Intermediates should be able to lift approximately 60-100% of their body weight, and advanced lifters approximately 75-125%.

Exact standards vary widely depending on your chosen variation (sitting vs standing).

If you’re lifting at or exceeding these strength standards, then you’re doing a good and respectable job.

I’ve also shared common problems and solutions to a shoulder press strength that is below average.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Kal

I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

Recent Posts