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How To Do Cuban Press Effectively

July 9, 2024
April 24, 2024
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Step right up and prepare to discover the secret weapon for sculpting strong, powerful shoulders – the Cuban Press workout! With a name as captivating as its results, this exercise has been causing a stir in the fitness community.

Imagine unleashing the power of your shoulders while engaging those often-neglected stabilizing muscles, all in one exhilarating motion. Join us as we embark on a journey to unlock the potential of this captivating exercise, and transform your shoulder workouts into an experience that leaves you feeling invincible!

Key Takeaways

  • The Cuban press primarily targets the shoulder muscles, including the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids.
  • It also engages and strengthens the rotator cuff muscles, essential for maintaining shoulder joint integrity and stability.
  • Upper back muscles like the trapezius and rhomboids also engage during the exercise to help lift and stabilize upper arms and weights.
  • Using dumbbells provides a greater range of motion and an additional challenge for elbow and shoulder muscles.
  • Cuban press variations improve shoulder joint control and stability at different fitness levels.

What Muscles Does Cuban Press Work?

The Cuban press primarily targets to strengthen the shoulder muscles, specifically to strengthen the deltoids, muscles which consist of the anterior (front), lateral (side), and posterior (rear) heads. This exercise is effective and time-efficient at developing overall shoulder strength and stability.

Additionally, the Cuban press movement engages and strengthens the rotator cuff muscles, which are crucial for maintaining shoulder joint integrity and stability. The movements involved in the Cuban press can help strengthen these smaller, stabilizing muscles around the shoulder joint.

As a secondary effect, the upper back muscles, such as the trapezius and rhomboids, may also be engaged to assist with the lifting and stabilization of upper arms, hips, and weights during the exercise.

The use of dumbbells as equipment in the Cuban press allows for more movements with a greater range of motion and provides an additional challenge for the elbow and shoulder muscles, contributing to improved strength and muscle development.

How To Do Cuban Press Effectively

Cuban Press exercise

Cuban Press, also known as the Muscle Snatch, is a workout that targets the shoulder muscles, rotator cuff, and upper back. This exercise involves a combination of a shoulder external rotation and a dumbbell overhead press down with external shoulder rotation, engaging multiple joints and muscle groups through a continuous and fluid series of movements. To perform the Cuban Press correctly, adhere to these steps:

  1. Maintain a shoulder-width stance with feet, engage your core and hip muscles, keep your elbows elevated, and ensure your back remains flat.
  2. Hold a few dumbbells in each of your hands, palms facing behind you.
  3. Lift your arms outwards and sideways until your elbows form a right angle with your head and body, elbows bent and weights hanging directly downward.
  4. Maintain stability in the dumbbell press and upper arms, breathe in as you twist the dumbbells upwards, aligning your forearms perpendicularly to the ground with palms facing upwards. Breathe out once this action is finished.
  5. Press the weights straight overhead as if you were performing a shoulder press.
  6. Pause and return to the starting position.

Sets And Reps

Begin with performing 1 to 2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions. Gradually add more sets and reps as your strength improves, progressing to eventually complete 5 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

  • Beginner: 1-2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions
  • Advanced: 5 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions

This workout can enhance the strength of your rotator cuff muscles and enhance shoulder stability. It serves as an excellent warm-up for bench presses or heavier shoulder presses. Additionally, it can assist in developing muscle mass and defining your arms and shoulders.

Cuban Press Variations

If this exercise is too difficult for you, try these easier variations:

Unweighted (arms only)

The unweighted variation of the Cuban overhead press, is an excellent starting point, especially for those who are new to the exercise or are working on improving their shoulder mobility and strength.

By focusing solely on the arm movement without added resistance, individuals can concentrate on mastering the proper form and range of motion. This starting position serves as a crucial foundation before progressing to more challenging versions of the exercise, enabling individuals to develop the necessary control and stability in the elbows and shoulder joints.

With A Broom Handle

Using a broom handle acts as a transitional step between the unweighted variation and using dumbbells or a barbell for the Cuban press. Holding a broom handle simulates the grip needed for the exercise while offering slight resistance.

This approach helps individuals familiarize themselves with the movement pattern and progressively prepare for heavier weights, serving as an effective precursor to traditional weights. Additionally, it enhances shoulder flexibility and reinforces proper alignment.

With A Resistance Band

Integrating a resistance band into the Cuban press introduces a dynamic method for adjusting difficulty levels based on individual strength and capability. With accommodating resistance, the band tension increases as it stretches, facilitating a controlled progression. This enables users to start with lower resistance and incrementally raise the challenge as proficiency grows.

Moreover, the band variation fosters stability and control by engaging stabilizing muscles, enhancing overall shoulder integrity. By incorporating these variations, individuals can customize their Cuban press regimen, steadily developing the strength, stability, and technique needed to execute the exercise with confidence and mastery.


If you want to build perfectly sculpted shoulders or you are looking to improve your shoulder strength, you may want to try including cuban press into your next upper body routine. Strong shoulders aren’t just for show; they’re essential for daily activities.

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Dumbbell Workouts

For more workouts with the use of dumbbells, check out these articles:

5 Day Dumbbell Workout

12 Week Dumbbell Workout Plan PDF

Will Cuban Press hurt your shoulders?
Common mistakes beginners will make when doing Cuban Press?

Caroline Lubinsky CF-L1. (2023). How to Do the Cuban Press for Stronger, Healthier Shoulders. Available at: [Accessed 1 April 2024].

Nick Hutchings. (2009).How To Do The Cuban Press. Available at: [Accessed 1 April 2024].

About authors
Jessica Brown
Written by
Jessica Brown is a 29-year-old freelance copywriter who is passionate about human nature and is now immersing herself deeply into the realm of health and wellness. Jessica holds a Master of Arts in Literary Studies from the National University of Singapore and a Bachelor's in Biology from the University of Cambridge.