Top 10 Shoulder Exercises


Shoulders are for more than shrugging. Broad, bulky shoulders are achieved by strengthening the deltoid, which is the main shoulder muscle. The deltoid is composed of three parts: front, middle, and rear. As with other main muscle groups, shoulders are best worked out with compound movements using heavy weight and low to medium reps. Start with the most intense, multijoint shoulder exercise, such as your standing or seated over-hand presses, and move down to accessory lifts, like the face-pull or front dumbbell raise.  

Broad shoulders will give you excellent upper body definition and help overall strength. Health Fitness Revolution has ranked the top exercises to give you boulders for shoulders. 

  • Overhead Barbell Press
    This compound lift activates many major muscle groups in your body and is instrumental to building stronger shoulders. Start with the bar resting on your shoulders just below your chin with a narrow grip. Raise the bar keeping your legs and back straight until it is vertically over your head. Lower the bar back down slowly to starting position. If the bar immediately falls down after thrusting it over your head, the weight is too heavy.
  • One-arm Kettlebell Push Press
    Bring a kettlebell to your shoulder using a powerclean motion, using your lowerbody to power the raise. Once the kettlebell is behind your shoulder, bend your knees while keeping your backstraight. Drive through up through your heels in a jumping motion (but keep your feet on the floor) and lockout your arm, using your momentum to lift the weight.
  • Side dumbbell lateral raises
    Keep a straight torso and choose a dumbbell that is light enough to do three sets of 8-12 reps. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the dumbbell until your arms are parallel with the floor. Don’t let gravity do the work; lower the weight 1-2 seconds down.
  • Seated dumbbell shoulder press
    Start with your back in an up-right position, gripping the dumbbells just over your shoulders with palms facing out. Push the dumbbells up until they touch slightly at the top, hold them there, and then slowly lower them down to rest position.
  • Front dumbbell raise
    With your feet planted shoulder length apart, raise two dumbbells from your hips until your arms are at least parallel with the floor, although you can go furhter than parallel. Avoid rythmic swaying and try and use of momentum to get the weights up and down. This is a fantatic isolation exercise that really targets the anterior delts.
  • Reverse incline flyes
    Sit stomach-down on an incline exercise bench. Bring the dumbells up from the ground and move the weights in an arc. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and raise your arms until they are parallel with the ground.
  • Barbell Rear delt row
    Stand straight and hold a barbell with a wide grip. Bend over slightly with arched knees and a straight back, so that the barbell and your torso resemble letter “T.” Make sure to squeeze your rear delts as you lift the bar towards your upper chest.
  • Face pull
    The face pull is another great accessory workout hits your rear delts and improves rotator cuff flexibility. Adjust a rope cable so that it is even with your chest. Rotate as you pull back with your shoulder blades so that your knuckles turn to face the ceiling. Do this lift with low weight and focus on the rotation.
  • Arnold press
    Sit on a chair holding two dumbbells at chin level, palms facing toward your face. Raise the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended, rotating your wrists so that your palms are facing outwards at their highest point. Rotate back as you slowly lower the weight down.  
  • Pushups
    Make sure to keep your back straight the whole time and have your elbows pointed at a 90 degree angle. Flex your abdominal muscles while completing the pushups to assure your back is straight and to workout your core as well as your shoulders. Disclaimer: Push-ups are traditionally a chest exercise but do also strengthen the shoulders- hence making both our lists!

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