Shoulder Workouts

Shoulder Deltoids Muscles

In order to get strong, broad shoulders, you need to make sure you add shoulder workouts to your training plan. Most exercises that seriously develop your shoulders will use weight machines or dumbbells, but you can still make good progress with bodyweight exercises such as press ups.

Even if you don’t want huge boulders for shoulders, you can still include these exercises in your workouts to build up the strength of your muscles, joints and tendons.

Workouts for your shoulders will focus on your deltoids primarily, because a well-defined deltoid muscle will give you the rounded shoulder look. Many shoulder exercises will also build up your trapezius (traps) too.

Workout options

Press ups are a great option to build up your shoulders, because they can be completed anywhere you have space, with no equipment necessary. Pull ups are also very beneficial, and only require you to have access to a chin up bar.

However, to get big broad shoulders, you will benefit most from some form of weight resistance. This can be through the use of arm weight machines, dumbbells or kettlebells.

Compared to bodyweight exercises, weights can help you make the same gains in less time. For those who just want strong, stable shoulders, bodyweight/calisthenic exercises will be perfectly adequate.

If, however, you want large, broad shoulders, in a shorter time period, it is recommended to incorporate weights into your shoulder workouts.

Remember, if you can’t do a repetition with perfect form, you risk an injury, which can delay your gains further. Therefore, make sure you do not try to lift more weight than you are safely capable of lifting.

For instructions on shoulder exercises using weight machines, check out our arm weight machines page, which also includes instructions on pull ups and dips. Our kettlebell page includes a number of exercises too, should you wish to incorporate them into your shoulder workouts.

How to do:

Press ups

Lying face down on the ground, with straight legs and your feet close together, point your toes down onto the ground. Bend your elbows, place your hands out to the sides slightly, level with your chest.

Now you can lift your body up off the ground, using just your arms. Keep your back straight (you may have to consciously tighten your core in order to keep a good posture). Stop extending your arms before they are at full lock. You are now in the starting position and can begin a rep.

Lower yourself to the floor by bending your elbows, stopping when your chest is a few inches above the ground. Do not bend your arms out wide, instead keep them close to your body. Your toes will act as a pivot and all the movement should come from your arms. help you remain stable throughout the exercise.

Once you have reached this position, extend your arms again just like at the beginning of this exercise. You will now be in the starting position, and have completed one repetition.

Shoulder press ups

Just as the name suggests, this variation of press up targets your shoulders. For your starting position, place your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, and place your hands level with your head this time, rather than your chest.

Extend your arms, and lift your hips up to be the highest point. Your body will be like a triangle now, which is your starting position. Your legs and arms should both be straight at this point.

Bend your arms at the elbows, lowering your head down between your hands, stopping when your forehead is just a few inches above the floor. The emphasis for this variation is on using your shoulders and triceps primarily, rather than your chest.

When you have reached this position, extend your arms again, keeping your hips high in the air and returning to the start position.

T press ups

A T press up is performed just like a normal press up, except that there is an added movement at the top of the movement.

Do a normal press up. But, when you extend your arms to push yourself back up, lift one arm off the ground and rotate your body, using your feet and the hand on the ground to balance yourself. Your feet will remain in the same position throughout the press up, so do not move them.

The arm you are lifting up each time should be fully extended as you rotate your body until it points straight up towards the ceiling. In this position, your body should resemble a T shape that has fallen over.

Pause for one second once you are in this position, before rotating back to have both hands on the floor again. This results in the completion of one rep.

Then, do a normal press up again, before rotating the other way this time, working the other arm.

One-arm press ups

One-arm press ups can be a great inclusion into your shoulder workout, but only if you have a good level of strength already, because they are difficult to do.

To begin with, your feet will need to be wider apart than for normal press ups (more than hip width apart). Your arms should be in the same position as for normal press ups, out to the side of your chest. Use your arms to lift your body up, keeping a straight back, to enter the start position.

Once you are stable, move one arm behind your back, so that your feet and the other arm are bearing your weight.

Now, keeping the elbow close to your body, bend your supporting arm, until you are almost touching the floor with your chest. Once you have reached this position, extend your arm again to lift yourself back up, completing one rep as you do so.

This is a difficult exercise so you will need to be careful throughout. Use your core to remain stable during the move.

Dumbbell shrugs

Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inwards, and your arms fully extended down your sides. This is the starting position.

Elevate your shoulders, just like when you shrug, lifting them up as high as possible. Keep your arms fully extended the whole time, and at the top of the motion, hold the contraction for one second.

After holding this position, gradually lower your arms down to the starting position, resulting in the completion of one rep. The entire movement is very small and doesn’t look like it will do a lot, but it really works your shoulders and helps to build up the muscles.

During this exercise, the only body parts you should be moving are your shoulders. Do not use your biceps to help you lift the weights. You can also switch to a barbell instead of dumbbells, to perform barbell shrugs instead.

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