Shoulder Strength: The Best Shoulder Workouts & Exercises to Build Healthy Shoulders

There is no denying how great a set of well-sculptured shoulders look. Apart from enhancing the frame of a person – aesthetics aside – shoulder workouts enhance sculpture, straightening the muscles around the shoulder joint.

The results: a more stable, and sturdier body structure. The shoulder joint is amongst the most delicate joints in the body. As such it needs regular exercise to prevent injury resulting from weak muscles around the shoulder joint.

Before getting into individual shoulder workout routines here are a couple of videos on some tips on how to build bigger shoulders.

We advocate a lot of the teachings that Jeff Cavaliere teaches on his youtube channel as he not only gives you a list of workouts to do, but he also explains the science behind the workouts. The videos above and below are worth a watch.

Warm up exercises

Before starting any exercise, it is important to do warm-up exercises to prepare the body and ensure a smooth injury-free exercise session.

The perfect starting point is a 5-10 minute cardio to get your body pumping and work your muscles. The perfect cardio at home should be jumping jacks, and running on the same spot.

Shoulder specific warm ups should include the windmills which are basically done by standing upright with your arms straight out and rotating your arms in a small arc increasing the size of the arc in a gradual manner. These warm up exercises should get you ready for a shoulder workout.

Now let’s get into the shoulder workouts!

Lawrence Ballenger Shoulder Workout

This shoulder workout consists of 7 exercises. If you want huge shoulders, check this out.

Jake Alvarez Shoulder Gains Workout

Jake Alvarez shoulder routine is based on the art of simplicity. It comprises of 4 moves.

  1. Dumbbell shoulder press
  2. Rear Delt Fly
  3. Face Pull
  4. Reverse Pec Deck

Single Move Shoulder Workouts

Perhaps you already have a shoulder workout and are looking for individual shoulder exercises to add to your routine.

Handstand Pushups

Handstand pushups can always be comfortably performed either at home or in the gym. They are a great source of upper body strength.

Handstands require more balance and coordination than many of the other exercises on this list. Though it takes some little time to master, the benefits would certainly outweigh the effort. Handstands strengthen the shoulders, the chest, and the triceps. The shoulders or deltoid muscles raise the arms overhead thereby gaining in strength.

Pike Pushups

Pike Pushups normally serve as a great alternative to the handstand. So if you cannot do a handstand pushup, try the pike pushup instead.

It is good to start to build strength, stability, and endurance for the eventual handstand. To do the pike pushups, it is essential to keep the head between your arms. This can be a problem for tight lats (the muscles down your back).

If you fall into this category, then performing an exercise to stretch the lats, such as a static handstand would augur well. For an effective pike, pushup ensures that your back is straight and knees extended.

Feet Elevated Pike Pushup

The only major difference that exists between a normal pike pushup and feet elevated pike pushup is that unlike the standard version, the feet are always placed on an elevated platform.

The feet elevated pike push up is normally useful where you are lacking in flexibility. This exercise also forms part of the handstand progression and serves the following but not limited benefits of strengthening the front deltoid anterior and lateral muscles.

Arnold Presses

Arnold Presses can be done at home with a dumbbell and may be accompanied by an exercise bench. Arnold presses help to build all three belts; the front deltoids (deltoid anterior), the middle/outer/side delts (lateral deltoid) and the rear delts (deltoid posterior). However, it has a more profound effect on the front and side delts.

To do an Arnold press, sit on an exercise bench that has back support, or stand – as long as your back is straight – holding two dumbbells. Then with your palms are facing you, move the weights to your chest and rotate your arms till if faces forward as you lift the weights above your head.

Lying Side Laterals

This is the perfect example of a lost exercise. They were once the perfect alternative to standing laterals, a position that is now occupied by machine laterals. However, due to its profound benefits, lying side laterals have rightly taken a prominent position on this compilation.

To execute a lying side lateral, it is best to have an inclined exercise bench with no seat or an abdominal board that has been set at an angle of 30 degrees. Then lie on your left side bracing your body in a firm position and clutching a dumbbell in your right hand. Then with the dumbbell pressed against your thigh and your arms slightly bent lift the dumbbell in a semicircular arc.

Note that:
1. It is always preferred that your dumbbell should be lighter than what you would use for standing laterals.
2. Note that nothing stops you from performing this exercise on a flat bench or on the floor.

Reverse Overhead Laterals

Like the lying side laterals, this exercise is rarely performed by people. Reverse overhead laterals only use a pair of dumbbells, a must-have home workout tool for any fitness enthusiast.

This exercise helps to build up the side laterals. Though most exercises build the side laterals consciously or indirectly, this exercise focuses its attention majorly on these.

To do the reverse overhead laterals, stand with your dumbbells in an area with an arms-wide length of space, as you would need to stretch your arms. Then raise the dumbbells overhead lifting them from raised, bent elbows.

Upright Rows

Upright rows require a barbell, which you might – or might not – have at home. Upright rows help strengthen all three deltoids with a particular focus on the front deltoid. Upright rows primarily work on the shoulders and upper back muscles.

Use an overhand grip to grab the barbell with the palms being at least six inches apart. Then tighten your abdominals and pull the weight upwards to just beneath your chin and repeat for as long as desired.

Bent over lateral raises

Bent over lateral raises is one of the few exercises that focus on the rear deltoid muscles. To perform this exercise, stand with feet at apart at about a shoulder width and bend at the waist (halfway) and allow your arms to hang. Bring the weights down and raise them to horizontal.

Repeat as desired inhaling throughout.

Wide Grip Inverted Row

This exercise straightens your middle back and evens out your shoulders giving you a perfect posture. Whilst a generic inverted row is focused on your middle back alone, a wide grip inverted row is helps build your deltoids as well.

To do this exercise, put a bar in a rack at about the height of your waist before taking a wide grip at the bar (slightly wider than your shoulder). Position yourself hanging from the bar and pull yourself up.

Single Dumbbell Front Raise

While at a wide stance, grasp the head of your dumbbell with both hands. Use the head of the dumbbell as a handle and raise the weight until it is above your shoulder level and return to the starting position.

Cuban Press

Most of these home exercises require a pair of dumbbells and a Cuban press is no different. To carry out a Cuban press, take a dumbbell in each of your hands holding the dumbbell with a pronated grip. Assume a standing position. Then raise your upper arms in a scarecrow position ensuring they are horizontal and parallel to the floor.

Body Saw

The Body Saw exercise has been associated with killer abs but they are also a good way to build the deltoids. The best part is that they do not need any gym equipment. Simply find a space in your home that you can slide your feet.

Elevated Pushups off-stairs

If you have stairs in your home you can use them to your advantage by performing an elevated pushup off stairs. Simply lie at an angle of 45 degrees against the stairs with your arms slightly wider than your shoulder and your back straight and do your pushups for as many times as desired.

This exercise would improve on your deltoids giving you a broader, more balanced posture.

Incline pushups

Incline pushups are a beginner friendly exercise that helps in building the front delts. To perform an inclined push up simply carries out your regular pushup on an elevated platform.

Prone Reverse Fly

The Prone Reverse Fly works both the infraspinatus and the posterior deltoid. This exercise works best when the reverse fly is performed with the arms facing each other as against the pronated grip. The free weights give you the perfect hand position, isolates the rear delts and is a lot better than the machines at recruiting stabilizers.

Alternating Dumbbell Press

The alternating dumbbell press helps strengthen all the deltoids. To do this, always be seated on a backless bench flexing your abs to support your lower back. Then while keeping one arm motionless, lift the second arm up slowly and lower it back to starting position before repeating with the other arm.

Ensure that the weights you use are just right for you. Otherwise, you will not be able to lift the weights slowly.

Straight Arm Side Raise

The straight-arm side raise is guaranteed to pack a mass of muscle on your shoulders which unlike plain abs, do get noticed in the winter when all the overcoats are on. To do the straight arm side raise, tighten your abs to help support the lower back. Then have the dumbbells hanging at the side with your palms facing outward.

Bent Arm Side Raise

Whilst the bent arm side raise is in actual fact similar to the straight arm side raise, the only significant difference is the bent arm. This exercise is not for those who are prone to tennis elbow. They should do the straight arm side raise instead.

In performing the bent arm side raise, tighten abs to support your lower back and bend your elbows at an angle of 90 degrees with the palms facing up. Then slowly raise the weights up taking care to keep your shoulders and back straight. Do not try to over push your range of motion (ROM) as more is not always better.

Straight arm front raise

The straight arm front raise is a great exercise for the entire upper body – the arms, chest and shoulders. This exercise can be performed standing and seating.

If you are performing this exercise seating, take care not to bounce your knees. As usual, keep your abs tight to help provide support to the lower back. Then keep your arms straight but do not lock them. Your palms should point forwards. Then lifts up the dumbbells up over a 2-second count or as otherwise preferred and lower the weights back down again till your elbows make contact with your sides once again.

Inner and Outer Shoulder Rotations

Before we outline the benefits of these rotations, we must sincerely advise that you use really light weights to carry out these exercises. The muscles are small and these stabilizing exercise can do some serious damage to these muscles if you use heavy weight.

Inner and outer shoulder rotations are stabilizing exercises that keep the stabilizing muscles – small muscles located in the shoulder – strong. This is necessary as they help keep the shoulders away from injury.

Inner and outer shoulder rotations are the best exercises to keep the stabilizing muscles strong. An advisable start is 2 pounds. With time you certainly can move up from there. These exercises are best done on the ground. This is because the bench would allow for too much range of motion and as such is more than likely to cause injury.

Now lay on the side pinning your elbow under your body and at your side. You can keep your free arm at your side and under your body. Then grasp the dumbbell and lift it horizontally for as high as you can go. Try lifting it slowly and if you cannot do so then you are using a bit more weight than is necessary.

Machines are not the total solution to bodybuilding. These simple easy shoulder workouts should be able to transform your shoulder back to what it once or what it should have been.

What do you think? Drop a comment below. Your suggestions are highly welcome.