There are a bunch of reasons why someone may want to add shoulder workouts into their exercise routine. They may want to look a certain way … they may want to perform better in sports … or they may even be trying to get stronger.
No matter what the reason is, building strength in your shoulders can be super beneficial.
When I first started on my health and wellness journey, one of the toughest things to navigate was deciding which exercises to do. This was especially true during my shoulder workouts.
I would actually decide what workouts to do based on what other people at the gym were doing. This usually meant just doing a bunch of lateral raises until I couldn’t lift my arms anymore.
Lucky for you, I’ll cover some great shoulder exercises and workouts in this blog, so you can have some great shoulder workouts! That way, you aren’t standing around, doing the same exercises, or just mimicking what others are doing as I used to do.
The Muscles of Your Shoulder
When it comes to shoulder workouts, most people focus on three main muscles. These three include your front (anterior) deltoids, your side (lateral) deltoids, and your rear (posterior) deltoids.
In case you didn’t know, your deltoids are the muscles of your shoulder.
These three muscles will typically be the focus in most of your shoulder workouts. However, there are also muscles that lie underneath your deltoid muscles.
Underneath the deltoids, you will find a group of smaller muscles called the rotator cuff muscles. This little group of muscles helps stabilize your shoulders. They also work to maintain proper shoulder movement through any plane of motion. Strong rotator cuff muscles can be super important for preventing shoulder injuries.
Now, as we get into the different exercises and workouts, you’ll know which part of your shoulder we’re working on.
Top Shoulder Exercises For Stronger Shoulders
As I said, I’m going to cover some of the best shoulder exercises for strong and healthy shoulders. On top of that, I’ll give you some good ideas of full workouts you can do for your next shoulder workout!
Let’s get into the exercises first!
Overhead Shoulder Press
Muscles Worked: Front Delts, Side Delts, Rear Delts
Sit on a bench or stand upright while holding a dumbbell in each of your hands. Lift the dumbbells to either side of your head with your palms facing forward and your elbows out to either side of your body. This will be the starting position.
From here, push the dumbbells overhead until you can’t push them any higher. Make sure the dumbbells don’t touch over your head, and leave some space between them.
Next, slowly lower the dumbbells back to either side of your head and repeat this for reps.
Muscles Worked: Front Delts, Side Delts, Rear
For this exercise, you may sit on a bench or stand upright with a pair of dumbbells in each hand. Hold the dumbbells at your chest with your elbows pointing downward, your forearms next to one another, and your palms facing toward you. This will be your starting position.
Start by rotating your elbows outward as you push the dumbbells overhead simultaneously. Stop when your palms are facing forward and your arms are fully extended overhead. Make sure to leave space between the dumbbells at the top of the movement.
Lower the dumbbells to the original position and rotate your palms toward you. This is one full rep.
Muscles Worked: Front Delts, Side Delts, Rear Delts
For this exercise, you’ll need an EZ bar. Grab the EZ bar at shoulder-width with an overhand grip and let it rest at your waist. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Next, pull the EZ bar upright along the front of your body as your elbows flare out to either side. When the bar gets to roughly neck height, pause and hold the weight for a second. From here, slowly release the weight along your body, back to your waist. Repeat this for multiple reps.
Muscles Worked: Front Delts
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbells on either side of your body with a neutral grip.
From here, rotate your palms toward the floor as you raise your arms out in front of you. Make sure to keep your core braced the entire time. When your arms are straight out in front of your face, pause for a second, then lower the dumbbells back to either side of your body.
Muscles Worked: Side Delts
Stand upright or sit on a bench with a dumbbell in each of your hands, down by your sides. This will be your starting position. Keep your elbows slightly bent as you perform this exercise.
Next, lift the weights out to either side of your body until your arms are parallel to the floor, forming a “T” with your body. Pause for a moment before slowly lowering your arms back to either side of your body.
Bent-Over Rear Delt Dumbbell Raise
Target Shoulder Muscles: Rear Delts, Rotator Cuff
For this exercise, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells. Space your feet shoulder-width apart and hinge forward at your hips until your upper body is nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight, chin tucked, bend your elbows slightly, and let the dumbbells hang in front of you. This is your starting position.
Start by raising your arms out to either side of your body, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. When you’ve drawn your arms back as far as you can, you should feel a squeeze in your shoulder blades.
From here, slowly lower the weights back to the midline of your body, hanging below you. This is one rep.
Side-Lying Shoulder External Rotation with Dumbbell
Muscles Worked: Rotator Cuff
Start by laying on your side with your upper arm lying on top of your body. You may lie on a bench or even on the floor. Bend your upper arm at a 90-degree angle and place a light dumbbell in your hand. The dumbbell and your forearm should naturally fall in front of your body.
Begin the movement by externally rotating your arm, bringing the dumbbell up and over your body. At the same time, make sure to keep your upper arm glued to your side.
When you’ve rotated your arm as far as you can go, squeeze and hold for a second. Next, slowly lower your arm back to it’s starting position. Repeat this for reps.
Ways To Mix Up Your Shoulder Workouts
I know we already went over a bunch of shoulder exercises, but there are so many more out there. Nearly all of these come along with different variations as well.
So, let’s go over some ways that you can switch up your shoulder day while still targeting your shoulder muscles.
Use Different Equipment
In most of the examples above, I used dumbbells to explain the movements. Using different equipment, such as barbells, bands, machines, cables, and any other weighted equipment is a great way to switch it up. You may also have to do this depending on what kinds of equipment you have available to you.
Try Single-Arm Variations
Performing shoulder workouts using one arm at a time can help isolate the shoulder being used. This can be helpful for making sure both of your shoulders are proportional. This can also help prevent one shoulder from taking more of the load in your movements.
How Else Can We Help?
Like I said, there are so many more shoulder exercises that can benefit you and your goals. In fact, you can find a lot more exercises like these along with full shoulder workouts and programs tailored to your goals inside the 1st Phorm App!
The 1st Phorm App will even give you instructional videos to walk you through each exercise. This can help ensure you are doing them correctly.
On top of that, you’ll also get your own certified advisor to help you with any questions you may have. They can help with your nutrition, training, and anything else health and wellness-related. This is a real person you can talk to who is invested in your goals!
If you have any questions in the meantime, just reach out!
We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches who can point you in the right direction. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at CustomerService@1stphorm.com anytime!