Seven Best Shoulder Exercises for Strength

It doesn’t matter how often or how effectively you work your arms and chest; you won’t obtain the bulk or strength you’re seeking without also working the shoulders. The shoulders are comprised of three deltoid muscles — the anterior deltoid, the medial deltoid, and the posterior deltoid. It is important to pay equal attention to all three delts; if you neglect one or more it will be noticeable. Try 10 reps of each exercise with a challenging amount of weight; work up to more reps — and more weight — gradually.

Try these seven exercises to strengthen and build your shoulders:

Dumbbell Floor Press

Dumbbell Floor Press

This exercise is similar to the bench press in how it’s performed. One main difference is that it’s done on the floor instead of a bench. This minimizes shoulder strain while maximizing results. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lower them to the floor then extend arms up. Lower back down for one rep.

Overhead Shrug

Overhead Shrug

This exercise works both the delts and the trapezius muscles, making it an extremely effective shoulder strengthener. The overhead shrug can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells depending on your preference. Press the weight over your head so that your shoulders nearly touch your ears, then shrug your shoulders to lift the weight toward the ceiling.

Military Barbell Press

Military Barbell Press

The military press is great for working out the shoulders and the chest. Hold the barbell at shoulder-height, then press it over your head. Lock your arms while lifting the barbell over your head; return to the starting position to complete one rep.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Another exercise for strong shoulders is the dumbbell shoulder press. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing forward. The dumbbells should be at about ear level. Press the dumbbells up until they nearly reach above your head, then lower to the starting position. Keep your movements slow and fluid to effectively work your muscles.

Dumbbell Front Raise

Dumbbell Front Raise

This shoulder exercise can be performed from either a seated or standing position. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the floor; to begin, raise one arm until it is parallel with the floor. Lower your arm slowly, then repeat the action with your other arm. If you prefer, you can lift both arms at the same time.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The dumbbell lateral raise is yet another effective shoulder exercise that can be done either seated or standing. This exercise is quite similar to the dumbbell front raise, except instead of raising the arms to the front, you’ll raise them to the sides. To engage muscles most effectively, raise the arms slightly past the parallel position.

Barbell Rear Delt Row

Barbell Rear Delta Row

The barbell rear delt row is a shoulder exercise that is performed using a weight bench. Kneel on the bench with one knee; the other leg and arm are to the side. Lift the dumbbell up and out until it’s perpendicular with your torso, then lower it down, straightening your arm; this completes one rep.

Ensure that you include targeted shoulder exercises into your fitness routine, and you’ll see lasting improvements to your upper body strength.