6 Best Shoulder Workouts for Everyone

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How important is shoulder exercise?

After a year with a lot more sitting than we were used to, many of us have developed some back, neck, and shoulder stiffness.

If your office chair slouch or couch potato pose has started to affect your shoulders, it may be time to supplement your workout routine with a few extra shoulder exercises.

We've made it easy for you by collecting our favorites here in our guide to the 6 best shoulder workouts for everyone.

Some of these shoulder workouts you can do anywhere without equipment, some may require free weights or resistance bands, but all of them are sure to improve your posture, relieve soreness, and build a defined and attractive physique!

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Intro to Shoulder Muscles

Understanding your basic shoulder anatomy will help you to learn and perform shoulder workouts better

  • Deltoids - Three muscles that wrap the shoulder joint. They’re the most visible, and easiest to build mass upon. Their job is to raise the arm and move it horizontally.
  • Triceps - A three-pronged muscle on the back of the upper arm. It straightens the arm from the shoulder. 
  • Pectoralis major - Pec #1 in the common term "pecs." A large muscle, the majority of chest mass, that runs from sternum to armpit. Functions include pushing and pulling, as well as stabilization.
  • Pectoralis minor - Pec 2. Located underneath Pectoralis major, this muscle helps stabilize shoulder joints and move arms from shoulders.
  • Biceps brachii - A forearm muscle that rotates and flexes the elbow, assisting at overhead lifting. 
  • Latissimus dorsi - Also known as “lats.” These muscles help with inward and outward rotation, as well as pulling movements. They run across the middle back.  
  • Serratus anterior - This muscle that runs along the sides of your trunk helps raise your arms overhead.
  • Rotator cuff - A collection of muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint and rotate the arm.


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Best Shoulder Workouts

  • Push Ups: #1 in popularity and versatility, the humble push-up is a stellar chest, arm, and shoulder workout that should be in everyone’s exercise toolkit.
  • Overhead Press: Alternatively known as the shoulder press, this dumbbell or barbell exercise activates triceps, all three deltoids, serratus, and core muscles
    • In either a seated or standing position, grasp your weights in front and in line with your neck, then push up towards ceiling and lower. Be careful not to lean back when performing this exercise.
  • Plank to Downward Dog: Varied types of exercise are key for a balanced workout. These two traditional isometric exercises can be paired to help with shoulder flexibility, rotator cuff stability, and bicep strength. Variations of the transition between plank and downward dog can activate different shoulder zones.
    • Start in a push up position with your full body in a horizontal line, flexing abs and engaging shoulders. Rock your hips back and lift, dropping your head and shoulders down to create a 90-degree angle. Return to plank/push up position and repeat.
  • Lateral Raises: This simple free weight exercise primarily targets your deltoids.
    • Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides, then raise them to level with your shoulders, palms down. Lower and repeat, using your arm and shoulder muscles to resist the descent. Avoid raising your shoulder blades, and take your time!
  • Reverse Fly: Our last weighted workout, the reverse fly rounds out a good shoulder routine by strengthening and stabilizing the upper back, posterior deltoid, and rhomboid trapezius muscles.
    • With dumbbells in each hand, palms facing in, bend forward 45-degrees at the hips. From this position, raise weights with a semi-bent elbow in an up-and-out motion. Bring shoulder blades together. Lower and repeat.

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Shoulder workouts are great for everyone.

You'll be strengthening your lifting abilities, improving your posture, and relieving shoulder tension-- but you'll also be toning yourself up for tank top season! After all, everyone looks good with well defined shoulders.

Avoid injuring shoulders by using proper form, varying your workouts, and only performing shoulder workouts two to three times a week.