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10 Power-Packed Exercises for Building Shoulder Muscles

Beyond physical attributes, shoulder workouts improve posture and develop the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, resulting in greater stability and a firmer overall body framework.

Even though you might not think of your shoulders as your favorite muscles to train, you must not overlook them! Shoulder muscles play a significant role in an extensive fitness program. Learn more about focused shoulder exercises in this blog, which will help you get more out of your exercise routine.

Choose a range of exercises to target the different parts of the shoulders for a well-rounded workout regimen. These exercises focus on the deltoids, which include the front, middle, and rear, and the rotator cuff muscles.

1. Barbell Overhead Press

A Shirtless Man Lifting a Barbell In A Gym

The front (anterior), middle (lateral), and rear (posterior) heads of the deltoid are fortified by the barbell overhead press. Shoulder-raising won't go you very far if you want bigger, stronger, boulder-like shoulders. Instead, you need to focus on developing your size and strength through overhead pressing variations.

  • Stand in front of a weighted barbell.
  • Unrack the barbell and hold it on your upper chest and front shoulders.
  • Lift the bar overhead and slowly lower it again.
  • Repeat this movement for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Make sure to hold the barbell in a front-rack position with your elbows pointing forward and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Tighten your core, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and press the barbell overhead as you exhale.

2. One-Arm Press

The exercise develops muscular mass and strength in the upper body and can be done either sitting or standing. It can be performed as a targeted exercise for the chest, shoulders, and triceps, or it can be included in a full-body workout program.

  • Press the dumbbell up toward the top while fully extending your arm. Maintain an upright wrist position with your elbow near your body; avoid bending it forward or backward.
  • Squeeze the chest muscles and contract the shoulders and triceps as you press the dumbbell upward.
  • Slowly lower the weight back to your shoulder to finish the exercise. As you descend the dumbbell, keep your elbow close to your torso to maintain control over its weight.
  • After completing the necessary number of repetitions, switch sides and perform the exercise with your other arm.

3. Front Raise

To develop muscular endurance and strength in the ligaments and tendons that stabilize the shoulder, perform front raises at a load that is roughly 60 to 70 percent of your maximal load. Repeat every few weeks.

  • Hold dumbbells in front of your legs with your palms facing either inward or outward while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Exhale as you raise your arms straight in front of you to shoulder height or just a little bit higher.
  • After maintaining the posture for a brief moment, gently lower your arms while taking a breath.
  • Repeat as needed.

4. Lateral Raise

A Man Lifting A Two Weights In His Hand Doing Lateral Raise

There are many variations available for this workout, which is very helpful in helping you gain muscle. This will enable you to work out the muscles using a variety of equipment and at varied angles.

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, keep your arms at your sides, and face inward while maintaining a tall stance with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lean forward a little bit and bend your elbows slightly.
  • While maintaining neutral shoulders, brace your core.
  • Raise the dumbbells to your sides until they are slightly in front of your chest and level with your shoulders. At the top, your palms should be pointing downward.
  • Lower the dumbbells slowly back to the starting position.

5. Band Overhead Press

An excellent exercise for strengthening your overhead press's lockout strength is the banded overhead press. A band by itself can be used to increase the volume or to warm up for greater loads. As an alternative, you can strengthen your dumbbell or barbell overhead lifts and target your weak regions by using bands.

  • Place your feet hip-width apart and stand in the middle of the band.
  • With your fists pointing upward and your elbows bent 90 degrees, grasp the band's handles outside of your shoulders.
  • While keeping your shoulders down and pushing against the band, raise your arms straight up.
  • Return to the beginning position by lowering your arms slowly, then repeat.

6. Arnold Press

The Arnold press, named for the famous bodybuilder and movie actor, combines rotation into a traditional shoulder press. It hits all three deltoids simultaneously and permits the hands to spin naturally. 

  • Hold two dumbbells in front of you at around upper chest level, with your elbows bent and your palms facing your body, while seated on a back-supporting workout bench.
  • Raise the dumbbells and rotate your hands so that the palms face forward to complete the exercise.
  • Raising the dumbbells until your arms are straight above your head is the goal. As you complete this part of the action, exhale.
  • There will be a second pause at its highest. Rotate your hands in your direction to start lowering the dumbbells to their starting position.
  • Repeat as needed. 

7. Reverse Fly

The major upper back muscles and the back shoulders are worked during the resistance exercise known as the reverse fly. Dumbbells are the only equipment required to complete it, making it suitable for use at home or in the gym. 

  • Put your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep dumbbells by your sides while you stand.
  • Pull your hips back to bring your chest forward and nearly parallel to the ground. 
  • Keep your back straight, your core strong, and your knees slightly bent as you let the weights dangle straight down, palms facing each other.
  • With a breath out, raise both arms to your sides. Keep your elbows softly bent. 
  • Pulling the shoulder blades toward the spine requires you to squeeze them together.
  • As you breathe in, return the weight to the starting position. Throughout the exercise, try not to slouch your shoulders and keep your chin tucked in to maintain a neutral spine.

8. Upright Rows

Another great exercise for the shoulders is the upright row, but you must perform it correctly. Raise the weights gradually while preserving their close proximity to your body, and raise your elbows slightly over your shoulders. You can use a dumbbell for this exercise. 

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell in front of you with your arms outstretched in an overhand grip. Make sure your grasp is shoulder-width apart.
  • Pulling through your elbows and maintaining the weight close to your body, start lifting the dumbbell higher. When the barbell reaches your chest and your elbows are parallel to your shoulders, stop. 
  • Maintain a straight position throughout the exercise.
  • Continue after pausing at the top. For the required number of repetitions, repeat.

9. Shoulder Push-Up

While most people associate pushups with the upper body, this traditional exercise actually works a variety of muscles, including the lower back and the abdominal core.

  • Pull your belly button in the direction of your spine to tighten your core and contract your abs. 
  • Breathe in while lowering yourself to the ground and bending your elbows gradually until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Exhale, tightening your chest muscles, and raise yourself back up using your hands to take the starting position. 

10. Alternating Overhead Press

Properly performing this exercise can help to strengthen the anterior deltoid muscles, enhance posture, and increase shoulder mobility. Strength and endurance in the upper body can also be enhanced through it.

  • Pick up your dumbbells and raise them to your shoulders to begin.
  • Next, raise one dumbbell above your head in a straight line.
  • Return the dumbbell to a position slightly above your shoulder while simultaneously raising the other dumbbell to your head.
  • Repetition is necessary to complete the target number of reps; keep in mind to train both sides equally.

Key Takeaway

Whether you're waving hello or reaching for a high shelf, your shoulders are the unsung heroes of your daily actions. Beyond their practical use, shoulder muscles that are well-trained are essential for improving general fitness. Consider them the structural form that provides stability and strength to your upper body. 

Strong shoulder muscles help you build a toned body and are essential for efficient training since they allow you to lift more weight, do a variety of activities, and keep good posture. Ignoring your shoulder muscle training could result in imbalances, which would restrict your range of motion and put you at risk for injury. 


1. How often should I train my shoulder muscles?

2-3 times a week is sufficient, allowing for proper recovery between sessions.

2. Is it necessary to warm up before shoulder workouts?

Yes, warming up is crucial to prevent injuries and enhance flexibility.

3. Can I train my shoulders if I have a pre-existing injury?

Consult with a healthcare professional; certain exercises may need modification.

4. What are common mistakes to avoid during shoulder workouts?

Overtraining, poor form, and neglecting proper breathing are common pitfalls.

5. Is it necessary to include rest days for shoulder muscles?

Yes, allowing 48 hours of rest between sessions promotes recovery and growth.

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