10 Best Exercises for Shoulders - Home and Academy

The shoulders are composed of muscles such as the deltoid (divided into three parts: the anterior - which is in front the lateral and the posterior - that is in the back) and the rotator cuff, which covers four muscles that form a protective layer around the shoulders.

The deltoid is responsible for movements such as lifting the arm forward, to the side and back.

The rotator cuff muscles are important for the stability and strength of the shoulders, as well as raising the arm up and out, as in the movement of call the cab, turn the arm out, similar to what we do when we ask for a ride, and do the internal rotation of the arm, a movement that we perform when crossing the arms.

All of these are small but important actions that we routinely carry out in our day to day lives. Hence the importance of the musculature of our shoulders and the need to care for and strengthen this region.

In addition to helping with strengthening, shoulder exercises can contribute to refers to the definition and muscular construction, which are objectives of some practitioners of physics.

Check out the list below for some of the best shoulder exercises you can perform in your training. The activities are not organized in order of preference or efficiency.

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1. Development of shoulders with dumbbells

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This exercise works the anterior deltoid and the lateral deltoid, in addition to reaching other muscles such as the triceps, trapezius and upper pectoralis.

How to make:sit on a bench with your back straight, hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level, with your elbows bent as the picture above demonstrates. Move the dumbbells up vertically until the elbows lock. Bring the dumbbells down until they touch the shoulders.

The way you hold the dumbbells alters the way the muscles are worked. When holding with the palms facing forward both the anterior and lateral sides of the deltoid work.

Already the footprint with the palms of the hands directed inwards pulls more the previous deltoid and decreases the drive to the lateral deltoid. And the footprint with the palms facing back increases the effort made by the anterior deltoid during exercise.

2. Shoulder development with bar

Classified as the most effective shoulder exercise, shoulder development performed with the bar especially works the anterior deltoid, although it also strikes lateral and superior. It allows the use of high loads while at the same time bringing little risk of injury.

Obviously, the choice of loads should be made wisely, according to the abilities, conditions and evolution of each practitioner.

How to make:sit on a straight bench with a slight incline, leave the spine straight and glue the upper back on the seat back.

Take the bar with your hands at a distance equivalent to the width of the shoulders, the palms of the hands forward and lift the load up to the neck, leaving the elbows flexed to the side of the body. The forearms should be upright and the shoulder blades locked back. A footprint wider than shoulder width increases the risk of injuring the shoulders, as well as decreasing the triceps' involvement in the exercise.

Push the bar up with the strength of the shoulder muscles, extending the elbows until the bar is stabilized above the head. Lower the bar, flexing the elbows to return to the starting position.

To maintain tension in the deltoid, the recommendation is to finish the development of the shoulders just before the blockage, in a shorter repetition.

3. Arnold Development

Created by movie star and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Arnold development is a version of the development of shoulders made with dumbbells. Indicated for practitioners who have difficulty developing the anterior deltoid, the exercise to a range of motion, with three different hand positions, giving emphasis to the front of the shoulders.

How to make:sit on a bench with backrest, hold a dumbbell in each of the hands, with the palms facing the practitioner, keep the spine erect and the back well supported. Next, with the scapulas locked back, flex the elbows and carry the weights toward the chest, with the forearms upright.

Use the strength of the shoulder muscles to push the weights up while turning the palms of the hands forward. When reaching the top of the movement, the elbows should be extended, with the dumbbells next to each other, positioned above the head, with the palms of the hands directed outwards.

Take a short break at the top of the exercise and lower the weights in a controlled manner, with a reverse movement of the climb.

4. Side elevation with dumbbells

Lifting with dumbbells is considered one of the most effective shoulder exercises to work your side. The main muscle involved is the lateral deltoid, but exercise further activates the anterior deltoid and the posterior deltoid.

How to make:position yourself standing with your feet at shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward. The weights should be placed close to each other at the height of the thighs and the elbows should be slightly flexed. Do not forget to keep your spine straight and your shoulder blades back.

Then lift the dumbbells sideways, making the abduction movement of the shoulders (where the arms are lifted out and to the side) until the arms are parallel to the floor. The movement effort should be concentrated on the lateral side of the deltoids, at the shoulder joint, therefore, the elbows should remain motionless.

Then, tighten the muscle and slowly lower the dumbbells, returning to the original positioning.

During exercise the torso should not rock but remain motionless throughout the movement.

5. Inverted Crucifix with Dumbbells

It is classified as the simplest and most efficient movement to reach the back of the deltoid, which is the weakest and lowest of the three regions of the muscle. Still, it should not be overlooked over other shoulder exercises, so that they do not occur muscular imbalances that can cause injuries and that the practitioner can construct a three-dimensional shape in their shoulders.

How to make:bend as in the video above, with a slight bend in the knees, the trunk parallel to the floor and hold a dumbbell in each of the hands, with the palms of the hands pointing inwards. Make the approaching movement of the shoulder blades, bringing the dumbbells up, with the elbows almost fully extended.

Then lower the dumbbells, but do not allow one dumbbell to touch the other, as the video also shows. Letting the weights rest would make the movement easier.

During exercise it is important to contract the spine correctly, without rounding the lumbar, which poses a risk of injury. Another mistake that should not be made is to move the trunk along with the arms. The trunk should be stabilized and only the shoulders should move.

In order not to diminish the work of the musculature, one should not leave the elbows widely flexed.

6. Hindu flexion


In addition to working the shoulders, Hindu flexing triggers the triceps and chest.

How to make:in the bending position, as in the photo, pushing the hands on the floor, carrying the weight back so that the hips are raised and point to the ceiling, as in the picture. The back should be straight and the head behind the line of the hands.

Then lower the body in an arch movement, with the chest in a declining position, almost scraping on the ground. Continue to move forward while pushing the body up so that the trunk is upright and legs straight, almost touching the ground, as in the picture above.

7. High standing footbal with dumbbells


This compound and strength exercise works the shoulders and biceps. Your difficulty level is beginner.

Before we learn how to perform the paddling, it is important to remember the need to be careful to use lots of weight in this exercise. This is because high loads can cause you to not maintain the correct shape of your body, which can cause shoulder injuries. In addition, you should not shake, swing or otherwise make any other inappropriate movement with your body.

Anyone who already suffers with shoulder problems should keep away from high rowing standing with dumbbells and replace it with other shoulder exercises like lateral lifting.

How to make:standing, grasping a dumbbell in each of the hands, palms forward, hands at a distance slightly less than shoulder distance. The arms should be extended to the side of the body and the elbows slightly bent. The initial position dictates that the dumbbells rest on the thighs.

From there, lift the dumbbells vertically with the side of the shoulders, while exhaling, flexing the elbows. The weights should be close to the body and the elbows should direct the movement. While lifting the loads, the elbows should always be at a height above the forearms.

The lifting ends when the dumbbells almost touch the chin. The next step is to stop for a second up there and return the dumbbells to the starting position at a slow pace, while inhaling the air.


These shoulder exercises from now on require devices or equipment that you will hardly have at home, so they should be performed at the gym.

  • See too:How to set up your home gym.

8. High rowing on the cable


The high rowing on the rope is an intermediate level shoulder exercise, which also works the trapeze. It is a compound movement that focuses on strength.

The activity requires caution regarding the amount of load used, since a very high weight can harm the practitioner's shape and cause shoulder injuries. Another important point is not to shake, swing or do any other improper movement during exercise.

Anyone who is already suffering with shoulder problems should keep away from high rowing on the rope and replace it with some sort of lateral elevation.

How to make:hold a straight bar of cable attached to a low pulley with the palms facing the thighs. The distance between the hands should be slightly less than the width of the shoulders. The bar should be on top of the thighs and the arms should be extended, with elbows slightly bent and back straight.

Use your shoulders to raise the bar while exhaling the air. While pulling the bar, it should be kept close to the body. The elbows should direct the movement and be at a height higher than the forearms. The trunk must remain still. The bar should be raised until it almost touches the chin.

Once in the upper part of the movement, pause for a second. Lower the bar slowly to its place of origin, while inhaling the air.

9. Rowing high on Smith


This force-built exercise runs on Smith and works the shoulders, trapezius, middle back, and biceps. The high stroke in Smith requires attention to the amount of load used, since a very high weight can harm the form of the practitioner and cause injuries in the shoulders.

Another important point is not to shake, swing or do any other improper movement during exercise. Also, those who suffer with shoulder problems should stay away from the high row at Smith and trade it by some sort of lateral elevation.

How to make:adjust the Smith's bar at a height that lies approximately in the middle of your thighs. Then, load the bar and hold it with your hands apart at a distance corresponding to the width of the shoulders. If you use a high amount of weight, you may need wrist cuffs. However, do not overdo weight and use a load that is in accordance with what you can lift.

The next step is to raise the bar, extend your arms completely, keep your back straight and slightly bend your elbows, becoming as in the first photo of the above image. Then use your shoulders to lift the barbell while exhaling.

The elbows should direct the movement and be at a height higher than the forearms. The trunk must remain still. The bar should be raised until it almost touches the chin. After, hold the position for a second and slowly return the bar to its original positioning while at the same time inhaling the air.

10. Inverted flying machine


This strength exercise works the shoulders in isolation and has a level of beginner difficulty.

How to make:adjust the machine loops, choose an appropriate weight (with the help of the trainer and in view of their capabilities, no need to force) and adjust the seat so that the loops are shoulder-height. Grab the handles with the palms facing inwards.

Then, in a semicircular motion, pull the hands in a lateral and backward direction, contracting the posterior deltoid. The arms should remain slightly bent during exercise and all movement should occur at the shoulder joint.

After that, pause at the back of the movement and slowly return to the original position.


Before you start doing your shoulder exercises or any other type of activity, be sure to check with your doctor if you are fit to work out. This will help prevent future health problems and injuries.

If you can, still have a personal trainer, whether at the gym or at home. He is the most suitable professional to help you set up training, to teach the techniques of the exercises and to help you if any problem or injury happens. Their presence in the bodybuilding sessions brings greater safety and assurance of training efficiency.

  • See too:How to choose a good personal trainer.

However, if you choose to work out alone with YouTube tutorials, be careful to watch carefully, pausing and repeating as many times as necessary, until you understand exactly how the movements should be executed.

And in cases of injury, injury or any other health problem, do not delay to seek medical attention, especially if you are training alone.


What are your favorite shoulder exercises? What do you usually do, whether in the gym or at home, to develop these muscles? Comment below.

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