Shoulder Exercises You Should Try

Although building muscle is something many people are interested in, few realize it can take up to 12 weeks to see results. That is a lot longer than most people expect, and is the main reason so many people give up on their routines before any meaningful changes are made.

When it comes to strength training, various exercises target specific muscle groups of the body. For example, the flat bench exercises the chest, bent over rows work on our backs, and shoulder exercises, such as lateral raises, make the muscles at the junction of our arms and torso look particularly toned and defined.

Continue reading for five shoulder workouts worth trying this summer for those looking for size or strength growth as well as five exercises for those looking to tone their shoulders up or increase general mobility! 

Hypertrophy Exercises

Men are typically stronger than women and strive to bulk up their shoulders, but that isn’t to say women don’t also enjoy building up some muscle. These shoulder exercises cater to anyone who wants to see their delts, infraspinatus/supraspinatus, or teres major/minor grow into something beautiful.

Pro Tip: See how a fitness program can take your results to the next level as you learn new techniques and habits.

1. Incline Bench Press

Start by setting an adjustable bench to a 25-30 degree incline. Rest on your back, holding dumbells with arms outstretched above your shoulders. Lower the dumbells to the chest and raise again for one repetition. 

Depending on your body weight, adjust the dumbbell weight as needed. Complete 5-6 sets of 12 reps with moderate to heavy weights. Rest for 45 seconds in between each set. 

The incline bench press targets the front muscles of your shoulders. 

2. Lateral Raise

Before starting the repetitions, be sure your core, glutes, and shoulders are held tight during this exercise. Hold dumbbells at your hips and raise laterally until your hands are slightly below your shoulders. After raising, pause and slowly lower back by your hips for one repetition. 

Complete four sets of 10 reps with light to moderate weights. Rest for 75 seconds between each set. 

The lateral raise will add depth to your outer shoulder muscles. 

3. Military Press

This exercise can be done by standing, kneeling, or even in seated positions. Hold both dumbbells at shoulder level and raise upwards. After raising, lower with control for one repetition. 

Depending on your body weight, adjust the weight to about 70-85% of max lifting ability. Complete 3-4 sets of 10 reps. Rest for 60 seconds between each set. 

The military press focuses on building the overall shoulder size and the front deltoids. 

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4. Kettlebell Single Arm Press

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell by resting it on your forearm with your elbow tucked. With your palm facing inward, press it straight up, ending with your palm facing forward. Do this for both arms individually. 

Using moderate weight, do 2-3 sets of 10 reps for each arm. Rest for 45 seconds between each set. 

Kettlebell single-arm presses condition the shoulders and target the deltoids.

5. Cable Reverse Fly

Using the cable station, put the pulley on the lowest setting. Crossing your arms in front of you, grab each handle (making an X with the cables).

At the waist, bend forward until parallel from the ground. With your arms hanging down, pull your shoulder blades back. Then raise your arms by your sides until they are parallel to the floor, and lower with control. 

Gradually adding more weight as needed, complete three sets of 8-12 repetitions. Rest for 60 seconds between sets. 

The cable pulley reverse fly workouts focus on the weaker shoulder muscles like the rotator cuff and rear deltoids. 

Mobility and Toning Exercises

Not everyone wants boulder shoulders, and that is OK. Women, for example, sometimes, just want to look good without training for massive sized muscles.

Sometimes people want, or need, something for mobility work or simple strengthening exercises to recover from an injury. Others just want to make their shoulders look good, but not enormous. These are shoulder exercises for anyone who needs to hit any of these goals.

Banded Pull Aparts

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Using a resistance band, extend your arms out while being parallel to the ground. With palms facing the ground, pull fists out past shoulders and slowly return with control. 

Complete three sets of 10 repetitions and rest as needed. 

Banded pull aparts work the rear deltoids, rotator cuffs, and trapezius. 

2. Upright Row

Start with holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body, and weights resting on your quads. Lift elbows up and outwards to lift dumbbells to your chest. Lower the weights back down slowly for one repetition. 

Complete three sets of 15 reps using a light weight. Only rest when needed. 

The upright row exercises the front and middle heads of the deltoids.

3. Halo

Start by kneeling on the floor with knees shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in both hands in front of the chest, keeping both arms bent. Slowly circle your head with the dumbbell and back in front of your chest for one repetition. 

Do three sets of 10 reps in each direction. Use a light weight and rest only when necessary. 

The halo exercise works your rotator cuff, deltoids, and the small muscles surrounding your shoulder blades. 

4. Bent-over Rear Delt Fly

Start with feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees bent, and bend over until parallel to the floor. Hold dumbbells with arms hanging down toward the ground and palms facing each other. Raise arms up and out to sides and squeeze shoulder blades together and lower. 

Using a light weight, complete three sets of 12 reps. Rest only when necessary. 

The bent-over rear delt fly focuses on the posterior deltoids and the backside of the shoulders. 

5. See-Saw Press

Start with feet hip-width apart and dumbbells in each hand. Start with hands at shoulder level and palms facing inward. Extend one arm straight up and alternate this motion with the other arm. 

Using a moderate weight, do three sets of 10 repetitions. Rest only for 30 seconds between sets. 

The see-saw press focuses on the deltoid muscles. 

Try These Simple Shoulder Exercises

As previously mentioned, many people want their shoulders to look fantastic and are willing to put in some serious work to make them shine. 

Depending on your goal, this list of the best shoulder exercises will be sure to help your shoulders look and feel stronger, . 

Be sure to contact us with any questions or for more exercise advice to use on your fitness journey! 

Let Us help You Out

At CONDITIONerd we are here to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans we offer to our customers and see if you could benefit from working with our team. And if you have questions, you can always contact a CONDITIONerd team member

Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.

Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.


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