This study found that using dumbbells during the overhead press was more effective than a barbell for increasing shoulder muscle activation. This effect was seen in all three heads of the deltoid and was further increased by performing overhead press while standing. Dumbbells appear to be a better choice for training the shoulders, but continue to add variation to your movements for optimal gains.
Source: Saeterbakken, A. H., & Fimland, M. S. (2013). Effects of body position and loading modality on muscle activity and strength in shoulder presses. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 27(7), 1824-1831.
From being a mediocre athlete, to professional powerlifter and strength coach, and now to researcher and writer, Charlie combines education and experience in the effort to help Bridge the Gap Between Science and Application. Charlie performs double duty by being the Content Manager for The Muscle PhD as well as the Director of Human Performance at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. To appease the nerds, Charlie is a PhD candidate in Human Performance with a master’s degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For more alphabet soup, Charlie is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP), and a USA Weightlifting-certified performance coach (USAW).