A shoulder is one of the most important joints of a human body that involves a varied range of motions than any other joint. We often overlook the amount of work our shoulder helps us do until we suffer from a shoulder injury. From doing a simple task like typing to a difficult task like playing football, without our shoulder we won’t be able to do anything. Today’s sedentary lifestyle allows little or no movements because of which people frequently complain about shoulder or back pain. This is why it is one’s responsibility to take care of his shoulders as well as overall health. There are exercises for shoulders that help you tackle this problem. Apart from this, shoulder exercises also help you achieve a pair of sculpted shoulders that is a dream of every man. There is no denying that a well-shaped shoulder looks good on everyone. And to achieve your dream body, you can look up to shoulder training workouts. While there are a plethora of shoulder exercises, we have curated a list of 20 best shoulder exercises for you to bring you one step closer to that desirable V-shape.
But before that, let us understand in detail what can you expect from shoulder workout:
- Your shoulder is the most unstable and moveable joint of your body. The ball in the upper arm is susceptible to injury because of the range of motions and also the fact that the ball is larger than the socket holding it. For the ball to stay stable, it must be kept in the right position by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Therefore, you have to make sure that you strengthen these soft tissues to keep your shoulder strong, flexible, and coordinated.
- A shoulder workout helps you get your body warmed up before you jump into the main workout.
- Shoulder workouts are also great for people who suffer from shoulder arthritis. Shoulder stretches provide flexibility in the shoulder joint and the surrounding area. One can also do low impact aerobic exercises to promote the flow of the blood to the shoulder joint as well as the entire body.
- Shoulder training is also a part of therapy for people recovering from a shoulder injury.
Now that we know the benefits of shoulder exercises, keep a few things in mind before you start with the exercises for the shoulder. Make sure you do a few warm up exercises before starting extensive exercises. Warm up exercises focus on three things:
- Articulation of the shoulder joint - moving it, rotating it, flexing it. Basically these exercises will warm up your connective tissues.
- Joint centration and alignment.
- Activating as much as musculature around the joint capsule.
20 best shoulder exercises:
- Lateral raise:
The classic lateral raise is known to add depth to your shoulder, making you look strong. This is one of the most common and best shoulder exercises to hit your router shoulder but do it wrong and you invite shoulder injuries for yourself. Also, make sure you use a little lighter weight than what you use for other exercises as this is not a heavyweight exercise.
How to do lateral raise: Bend your knees a little bit, squeeze your glutes, keep your core tight, roll your shoulders back - try to keep your shoulder blades down and in. Hold your dumbbells at your hips level, feet placed shoulder apart and without involving much momentum, raise the dumbbells until your wrist. Repeat as many reps as you can.
You can buy dumbbells online from Decathlon.
- Military Press:
You want those big boulder shoulders to pop right out of your t-shirt? Do military press with us! It will hit your shoulders, traps, and core too. This exercise can be done from a variety of postures like standing, tall kneeling, or seated variations.
How to do military press: Stand straight, don’t arch your back while lighting your hand above your shoulder. Keep your back and core squeezed and tight. Tighten up your glutes. Pick your dumbbells and place them slightly in front making a slight angle relative to your torso. Now press the dumbbells upward, straightening your elbows and shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulder level with control. Make sure the movements are slow.
- Arnold Press:
Arnold press, named after the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is one of the best bodybuilders of all the time. Arnold Press is a variation of the military press. It adds on a rotation to a classic shoulder press to get all three heads - the front, lateral, and rear - of your deltoids.
How to do Arnold Press: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing your chest. Squeeze your glutes, abs, and shoulder plates. Press the dumbbells up, and while doing this, rotate your palms so they turn away from your chest. Stop rotating when they are turned fully away. up and rotate simultaneously. Keep squeezing your shoulder blades as you press as this will help you work your shoulder range of motion.
- Dumbbell push press:
Dumbbell push press is a simple yet explosive exercise. This exercise puts less stress on your shoulders which reduces the risk of a shoulder injury. It helps build single-arm strength and is easier to perform than most other shoulder exercises.
How to do dumbbell push press: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent. Hold a pair of dumbbells just outside your shoulders with your arms bent a little and palms facing each other. Dip your knees, then explosively push up with your legs as you press the weights straight over your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back to the start and repeat.
- Incline bench press:
Incline bench press is one of the favourite shoulder exercises of all fitness freaks. Incline bench press exercise is better and more effective than a conventional bench press as while doing incline bench press, your torso is tilted upward on an angle that redistributes the work to the muscles in your shoulder.
How to do incline bench press: Incline your bench press to an angle of 25 to 30 degrees. Lie with your back on the bench, face up and hold the dumbbells above your shoulder, keeping your arms straight. Lower the dumbbell to your chest level. Now hold this position for a few seconds and then again press the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
- Inverted shoulder press:
This exercise needs no equipment. It is a variation of push up. The best thing about this exercise is - you can do it anywhere, anytime. In this exercise, your pecs don’t do most of the pushing as in the actual push up, rather the workload shifts to the shoulder because of the inclined position involved in this exercise.
How to do inverted shoulder press: Start with the traditional push-up position, move your feet forward, and raise your hips to make an inverted V. Keep your hips elevated, bend your elbows and bring your chest lower to the floor. Hold this position for some time and then reverse the movement. If this is too easy for you, challenge yourself by bringing your feet closer to your hands.
- Kettlebell single-arm press:
Kettlebell is one of the great equipment for shoulder exercises. The kettlebell single-arm press helps to build strength and size in the deltoids. It also increases your core strength and corrects muscular imbalances.
How to do kettlebell single-arm press: Stand with your feet shoulder or hip-width apart. Hold the kettlebell in front of your shoulder, tuck your elbow, and let the weight rest on top of your forearm. Press the kettlebell up and rotate your arm so your palm faces forward. Try doing equal reps on both the arms.
Buy kettlebells from 6kg to 16kg weight range from Decathlon!
- Half kneeling archer row:
Half kneeling archer row keeps your shoulder healthy, it will teach you to squeeze your shoulder blades, and it helps in building your rear delts. Carve details into your musculature using this simple exercise.
How to do half-kneeling archer row: You need a resistance band to do this exercise. Grab the resistance band in both the hands. Keep your right arm straight, a little higher than shoulder level. Kneel with your left knee on the ground. Squeeze your back muscle and look at your straightened right arm. Now pull the resistance band like pulling a bow and an arrow with your other arm. Make sure you squeeze your back and shoulder muscles and bending your elbow as you do this.
- Incline bench combo L-to-Lateral rise:
This exercise is known to add bulk to your front and outer shoulder and since you are bent on an inclined machine, it will leave no room for you to cheat. Use a little lighter weight for this series, as it’s a tough one.
How to do incline bench combo L-to-Lateral rise: Set an incline bench at an angle of 45 degrees. Lie on the bench with your torso against it. Don’t forget to tighten your core, glutes, and shoulder blades. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides and raise both the arms out to the sides, explosively. Lower your arms. This time, repeat the sequence by taking a quick pause, say a few seconds, at the top of the motion. Again, lower your arms. Now raise one of the arms towards the front making sure your thumb is pointed slightly upwards. Lower your arms and repeat the sequence this time by pausing at the top. Again, lower your arms. Repeat the same sequence on the other side.
- Shoulder Shrug:
Use a dumbbell to do a shoulder shrug to increase the intensity of the exercise. This is a great exercise to make your shoulder strong and healthy.
How to do dumbbell shoulder shrug: Stand erect with dumbbells in both the hands and the palms of your hand facing your torso. Extend your arms to the sides - this will be your starting position. Now, exhale and raise the dumbbells as high as possible elevating the shoulders. Your arms should be extended during this entire session. Refrain from using your biceps to help lift the dumbbells, only your shoulder should move up and down. Hold the contracted position at the top, inhale, and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
- Cable Pulley Reverse Fly:
Do you want to target weaker areas of your shoulder like rear deltoids and rotator cuff? Learn how to do cable pulley reverse fly and dodge that shoulder pain and gain muscles in your upper body.
How to do cable pulley reverse fly: Keep the pulley on its lowest setting. Cross your arms to grab the handle of each pulley, i.e. hold the left pulley from your right hand and right pulley from your left hand. Bend forward and make sure your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Keep your arms under your shoulders. Stretch your shoulder blades back, raise your arms out to your sides until they are parallel to the floor. Repeat!
- Lateral Plank Walk:
We all know plank is a super effective workout to get those abs and tighten your abs. It all makes your shoulders strong. To add more burn to the shoulder area, lateral plank is one of the best exercises you can do without any equipment.
How to do a Lateral Plank Walk: Begin with coming into a push up position. Move the right leg and right arm at the right side out and bring the left side in. Finish a few reps on the one side walking like this then repeat the same number of reps on the other side.
- Half kneeling bottoms up kettlebell press:
With bottoms-ups press, take your shoulder press to the next level and challenge your shoulder stability. Turn the bell upside down to face a serious balance challenge.
How to do half kneeling: Kneel with one of your knees bent forward at an angle of 90 degrees. Hold a kettlebell in front of you in the bottom up position (handle should point towards the floor and bell towards the ceiling) at your shoulder level. Squeeze your abs and push the kettlebell overhead until your arm is straight. Keep your biceps as much as close you can keep to your ears and pull your shoulder down. Then reverse the movement.
- Reverse peck deck fly:
This is one of the common gym machines you will find in the gym. This exercise focuses on rear deltoids.
How to do reverse peck deck fly: Sit on the deck machine with your stomach against the pad. Grasp the pec deck handles ensuring your upper arms remain parallel to the floor. Push the handles back together as you contract your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this contraction for one second before letting your arms arc back in front of you. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Barbell overhead press:
Overhead press exercises are very important to build the upper body. Adding a barbell to your overhead press will increase the intensity of the exercises and help you achieve your goals faster. A standing position is the most effective one as it requires balance and engages your core muscles, abdominals, and lower back too.
How to do barbell overhead press: Add the barbels to both the ends of a rod. Now hold the bar at your shoulder level with your forearms at 90 degrees to the floor. Squeeze your abs and press the bar overhead. Hold this position for a few seconds and then bring it back to the shoulder level. This is one rep.
- Seated Dumbbell Clean:
This is a great exercise for your shoulder, traps, it’s gonna help with external rotation. Don’t use too heavy weights for this exercise.
How to do seated dumbbell clean: Hold a pair of dumbbells in both your hands. Shrug and pop the dumbbells up over your shoulder. While popping up the dumbbells, drop your shoulder down. Then drop down your arms. This is one rep!
- Band W Raise:
This exercise is very similar to face pulls with bands. This exercise targets your shoulders, upper back, and rear delts. The standing variation of this exercise is considered to be most effective amongst others.
How to do band w raise: Attach bands to a fixed object at your shoulder level and hold the opposite hands in each hand. Stand back to put the tension on the bands. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the bands to your shoulders with elbows flared out so your upper arms make a W shape. Hold for two seconds.
- Hindu pushup:
Hindu push ups are a great way to strengthen your upper body. For a long time, hindu push ups are being used by Indian wrestlers and Indian martial artists for strength and condition training.
How to do a hindu pushup: Start with a push up position. Drive your weight back to raise your hips into the air. Make sure your back is straight and head behind your hands. This position is similar to downward dog. Now, lower your body to make an arch so that your chest moves downwards and almost scrapes the floor. Continue moving forward as you press your body up so your torso is vertical and your legs are straight and nearly on the floor. That’s one rep.
This is another great shoulder exercise which doesn’t require exercise equipment. All you need is a bench. If you are at home and don’t have a proper bench, you can use a chair also. This exercise challenges your shoulder, triceps, and core too.
How to do dip: Place the palms of your hands on a bench/chair. Raise your body such that your legs are parallel to the floor. Then lower your body until your arms are parallel to the floor. This exercise also engages your glutes. Do at least 10 - 15 reps.
- Resistance Band Face Full:
As the name suggests, you will need a resistance band for this exercise. This is an all-round way to hit your shoulder and mid-back. This is a great exercise for the long term health of your shoulders.
How to do a resistance band face full: Grab a resistance band and sit on the floor. Keep your legs straight in front of you with your knees slightly bent. Now hold the resistance band in both your hands and loop in around your feet. Pull the band toward your forehead as you widen your elbows out, then reverse the movement.
To avoid shoulder injuries, make sure:
- Your form is proper.
- Don’t go over the board and use excessive heavy weights.
- Give a good amount of time to your warm up exercises.
- Don’t neglect cool down exercises as it’s important to get that heartbeat down and stretch the muscles.
- Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet.