Shoulder exercises should be an integral part of any gym routine, because building strength and improving mobility in your shoulders will help with a range of other exercises. And of course, if you’re physique training, wide shoulders are a key part of a V-shaped torso.
If you’re hoping to sculpt cannonball shoulders then check out these nine excellent exercises recommended by Jim Crossley, co-owner of F45 Kingston. There are shoulder exercises suited for all levels of gym-goer below, from beginner classics like the dumbbell overhead press up to advanced moves like the handstand press-up.
Beginner Shoulder Exercises
Dumbbell overhead press
“This is a good exercise for increasing shoulder strength and stability,” says Crossley.
“Choose some light dumbbells to begin with. Hold them just above your shoulders with your palms facing forwards. Raise your arms straight above your head.
“When lifting the dumbbells don’t move your back and in particular don’t allow your lower back to arch. This move can be done standing or seated on a bench with a back for support.”
“From a standard press-up position walk your feet towards your body, raising your hips and keeping your legs straight,” says Crossley. “Your body should be in an inverted V-shape. Then perform a press-up by bending your arms to move your head closer to the floor. “
“You can vary the difficulty and the load on your shoulders by moving your feet closer in or further out, and it can also be done with feet elevated on a box to increase the difficulty.
“This is a challenging bodyweight shoulder exercise in its own right, and a good way to build the strength required to do a handstand press-up.” (See the advanced exercise, if you dare.)
Barbell upright row
“Hold a barbell in front of your waist with an overhand grip and your hands shoulder-width apart,” says Crossley. “Lift the bar to chin height by raising your arms so your elbows finish above the bar.”
Intermediate Shoulder Exercises
Dumbbell lateral raise
“Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your waist with palms facing each other and a slight bend at the elbows,” say Crossley.
“Lean forward from your hips a little and bend your knees slightly. Raise your arms to the sides until your elbows reach shoulder height.”
“Hold two dumbbells in front of your shoulders, with your elbows bent at 90° and your palms facing your chest,” says Crossley.
“Move your elbows out to the side while raising the dumbbells and rotating your arms so that you finish with the dumbbells overhead with palms facing forwards.
“The Arnold press works both the front and side of your shoulders.”
“This is a classic shoulder-building exercise,” says Crossly.
“Start by holding a barbell in front of your neck with an overhand grip. Press the bar overhead until your arms are fully extended. Do not let your back arch when you press overhead.”
Advanced Shoulder Exercises
“Start by either kicking up into a wall handstand or walking your feet up the wall into a handstand with your face to the wall,” says Crossley. “Your body should be in a straight line and close to the wall with your feet pointed upwards and your arms shoulder width apart. Bend your arms to lower your body towards the floor, then press up to return to the starting position.”
“This is the same as the overhead press, but your starting position is with the barbell behind the neck, rather than in front, which makes it a more challenging exercise,” says Crossley.
“This is an isometric hold that will challenge your shoulders and arms,” says Crossley.
“Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms fully extended to the sides and your palms facing the floor. Hold the position for as long as possible.”