How To Do The Cuban Press

Dumbbell overhead press
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Cuban press targets the smaller internal shoulder muscles as well as your upper back muscles as you combining an external rotation of the shoulder with a dumbbell shoulder press. It’s a fine shoulder exercise.

How To Do The Cuban Press

Cuban press

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)
  • Stand with your feet apart. Keep your body upright and core braced throughout. Keep looking forward too.
  • Hold light dumbbells by your sides, palms facing behind you.
  • Lift your arms out to the sides until your elbows are bent at 90° and the weights are hanging straight down.
  • Rotate your arms so your hands point up, keeping your upper arms horizontal.
  • Press the weights directly overhead.
  • Reverse the movement back to the start.

Cuban Press Variations

Lying Cuban press

A change of angle places your rotator cuff muscles under different stresses. If this is the first you’re hearing about these muscles, make sure you add some of these rotator cuff exercises to your routine to ensure your shoulders stay healthy.

Lying Cuban press

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)
  • Set the bench at 30-45°.
  • Holding the dumbbells, let your arms hang straight down.
  • Lift your elbows out to the sides.
  • Rotate your arms until your forearms are in line with your body.
  • Keep your elbows bent at 90°.
  • Press the weights straight ahead of you.

Standing four-point press

Combine pressing and rotating the shoulders in one move. Using a heavy weight for this move risks injury, so keep the dumbbells light.

Standing four-point press, a variation on the Cuban press

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)
  • Start with dumbbells at shoulder level and your elbows to the sides.
  • Press the weights overhead.
  • Rotate your elbows to point forward so that your palms end up facing each other.
  • Lower the weights and return to the start.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.