10 Best Shoulder Workouts for Men & Women

best shoulder workouts for men and women
(Last Updated On: January 16, 2022)

Target Details for Shoulder Muscle Exercise

Body Part: Shoulders

Target Muscle:  Deltoid

Category: Exercise for Both


What is Deltoid! Why do we discuss it in shoulder exercises? The deltoid muscle is a group of 3 major muscles in the shoulder, the top of which begins wide and narrows as it descends into the arm, In order to build these muscles, whether for men or women, it is required to perform the best shoulder exercises at home, to increase their strength and thickness.

Contraction of the deltoid muscle results in a different range of motion of the arm and shoulders (We will discuss more about the structure of the components of these muscles in the next section below).

The exercises in this article that will cover the best shoulder exercises for men and women, as we will be reviewing them will be based on two factors. The first factor is the EMG tests while the second factor is the ability to organize exercise.

The EMG tests are used to determine the level of electrical activity in the deltoid area. For example, a person can use 175 pounds of overhead barbell press for the exercise, but we choose 38 pounds only using dumbbells for the lateral raise.

In most cases, the use of press is the most effective option even if the EMG is considered good for lateral raises. No doubt we mostly look at the relative references when discussing anything, but we also use notes and judgments in order to recommend the best shoulder exercises.

During the discussions, we’ll justify why each exercise is included in the list, and how these shoulder workouts can change your home routine.

Shoulder Anatomy

Structure of Shoulders (Deltoid)

The Deltoid muscle is a curved, triangular shaped muscle located in the upper arm and at the top of the shoulder. It is named after the Greek letter Delta.

Your shoulders are combined by 3 major muscles known as the Anterior Deltoid (front), the Lateral/Medial Deltoid (side), and Posterior Deltoid (back).

  • The contraction of the Anterior fibers flexes and rotates the arms, causing the arm to move forward, as when reaching forward or throwing a ball with underhand position..
  • The Lateral fibers abduct the arm by pulling the humerus toward the acromion. Abduction of the arm causes the arm to move away from the body, as in extending the hand to the side.
  • While the contracture of the Posterior fibers extends and rotates the arm sideways by pulling the humerus towards the spine of the shoulder (scapula).

Shoulder Structure


Benefits of Shoulder Workout

There are many benefits to shoulder exercises at home for either men or women, which target the muscles of the upper body. Here is a list of the main benefits:

  • Shoulder workout affects many muscles in the body that will help you achieve strength in carrying out daily physical activities with ease. Adding more strength in your back will give you a boost to perform activities such as pushing and lifting heavy objects.
  • Since you need to keep your back completely straight for this exercise, it will benefit you to maintain proper posture for yourself throughout your life. People often face the problem of humpback in their lives. These exercises can help you avoid this problem.
  • One of the main benefits we experience with this exercise is activate blood circulation, which pump blood to the brain and the whole body.
  • This exercise not only meets the shoulder strength requirements of bodybuilders, but also offers great value to other athletes such as swimmers, tennis players, volleyball players, etc.


Safety Equipment

I would suggest that before starting these home shoulder exercises, you should examine yourself by rotating your arms in 360 degrees. Your muscles and tissues may be damaged with heavy weights, while performing this exercise because it involves specific technique and muscle pressure can be difficult to perform.

If you feel sharp pain in your shoulder or upper arms while rotating your shoulders, stop there and seek medical advice. Moreover, if you are a beginner doing this muscle exercise, try to use less weight as you may strain your back.

Before starting, it is highly recommended to wear back belts to protect the spine and lumbar from any possible injury during the workouts.

In addition, your hands must be protected from ulcers due to the use of a bar while exercise by CrossFit Hand Grips.

Safety Lumbar equipment

Do You Need to Warm Up before Shoulder Exercises?

We can’t ignore the warm-up for any exercise we do. Warming up is key because it circulates blood in that particular muscle of our body and pumps it out. Warming up makes our exercise easier and more effective.

You can take lighter dumbbells weights and do 15 to 20 repetitions and overhead presses with the same reps. It is also best to do a stationary bike or run for 10-15 minutes to warm up the body in general.

For more detailed steps, check out Shoulder Warm Up Exercises to stretch your muscles and avoid any potential injury before your workout.


Best Shoulder Workouts for Men & Women


1: Barbell Push Press

(Equipment: Barbell)

(Target: Main Delts, Triceps, and Upper pecs)

Shoulder Exercise 1 - Barbell Push Press

This workout allows bodybuilders to choose more loads without disturbing the shoulder muscles. The main objective of this exercise is to enable the muscles to adapt to the pressing routine in different situations. The barbell can be done while sitting to protect your back.

How to Perform?

Step 1: Hold a barbell of an appropriate weight in both hands, shoulder distance apart, with palms facing down.

Step 2: Slowly raise the bar to rest on your shoulders, while flexing your forearms to touching your biceps. This is starting position.

Step 3: Bend your knees slightly and then press the barbell above your head in order to develop a rhythm that blasts upward. Return your knees directly to be straight. Hold this position for a second.

Step 4: Return to the starting position by returning the barbell to rest on your shoulders. This counts 1 reps.

Repeat the workout 4-6 times in 3 sets.

During Workout    

During this exercise, you will find involvement of the upper pecs muscles, triceps, core, delts. This practice is considered a powerful for the bodybuilders. It is not simple but the technique enables trainee to do it easily.

Those who want to choose more loads should use more force and their body tolerates it. This is the simple formula.

On the other hand, this muscle building practice also starts distributing hormones in an even manner which is good for movement and bodybuilding.

Those who do this barbell workout should be more careful and pay attention during exercise, and determine the number of repetitions suitable for them. Also, be sure to warm up well before this practice.

2: Standing Military Press

(Equipment: Barbell)

(Target: Medial and Anterior Deltoids, Triceps)

Shoulder-Exercise 2 - Military Press Overhead

Another version of this exercise is also known as the Standing Overhead Press.

The name comes because this movement used to be a common indicator or routine test of one’s strength in the Military.

This exercise is usually done with a barbell but dumbbells can also be used. This exercise is good because it uses the force coming from the legs. This is good for an isolation movement but most trainers do not consider it a perfect isolation movement.

In simple words, this exercise is called a Multi-joint Overhead Press, due to the involvement of the shoulder and elbow joint in one exercise, which is called compound exercises.

How to Perform?

Step 1: Choose suitable weights for the barbell.

Step 2: Hold the bar with a reverse grip (palms facing forward). Make sure to hold the bar a little wider than shoulder width. Begin by placing the barbell at chest height. This is the starting position.

Step 3: Now raise the bar above your head by straightening your arms. Pause this position for a few seconds.

Step 4: Then slowly lower the bar down to rest on your shoulder as you inhale (return to the starting position).

Then repeat the exercise 4-6 times.

Bodybuilders can use both barbell or dumbbells for this shoulder workout. According to studies, Dumbbells are known to lead to more activation of the electromyogram. Remember that this activation mainly depends on the amount of load chosen by the person.

Make sure to maintain the normal straight position of the hips. Do not lean your hips forward or your buttocks backward. If you do, it will create a mess in your lumbar spine.

During the Workout

This is another exercise for the multi-joint upper press. This is a great alternative to the other types of presses on the list. Make sure to warm up before beginning this exercise.

It would be great to focus on the weights loads and force used to avoid any injury that might cause you to be unable to complete the exercise.

3: Dumbbell Incline Row 

(Equipment: Dumbbells , Bench)

(Target: Posterior Deltoid, Middle Back)

Shoulder-Exercise-3 - Dumbbell Incline Row

A new multi-joint rowing exercise. Remember that rowing motions are useful in significant level for Back support in addition to the rear Delts.

Studies published by the University of Wisconsin (La Crosse) suggested comparing the level of EMG activation in nearly all shoulder muscle exercises. These studies conclude that rowing is one of the best options for getting more Delt activation.

The rowing motion is a good addition to your list of shoulder workout at home muscle exercises, because it can bring both heads closer to perfection. Since most studies have ignored traditional row movement exercises, it is essential to do it masterfully.

How to Perform Incline Row?

Step 1: Hold a suitable dumbbell in each hand.

Step 2: Lean your chest on the incline bench machine.

Step 3: Keep your arms straight toward the floor and your torso straight, this will be the first position.

Step 4: Now slowly raise your arms and bend them back to row the dumbbells at your sides near your torso, until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, and the dumbbells are at bench level. Hold this position for a while.

Step 5: Then return to the first position, by straightening the arms.

Workout Note

If you are trying to complete the shoulder and back exercise at the same time, it is suggested to use a modern practice recommended by experts. First try to complete the Overhead Dumbbell Press and then start this shoulder rowing exercise.

4: Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

(Equipment: Dumbbells )

(Target: Major shoulder muscles, Lateral Deltoid)

Shoulder-Exercise 4 - Seated Dumbbell Press Overhead

These shoulder dumbbells work independently on each side. However, this movement is challenging because it requires more energy and attention. It is essential to stabilize the muscle during workout. On the other hand, do not let the dumbbells touch each other on top while lifting weights.

Switching to a sitting position is a good thing because it removes the extra load on the lower body and back. Now the upper part of your arms will be raise straight up. This practice is highly dependent on the middle delts. That is why the anterior delts should be kept away from excessive loads, this can be done by keeping the weights in front of the head.

 How to Perform?

Step 1: Sit on bench or chair, keeping your back straight.

Step 2: Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and now lift the weights with a overhand grip. By bending the elbows at a 90-degree angle, aligning the upper arms at shoulder level. This will be the starting positions.

Step 3: Now start lifting the weights above the head as you exhale, by fully extend the arms. Pause this top position for a while.

Step 4: Return the dumbbells to the starting position, by bending the elbow to be at shoulder level while inhaling.

Repeat workout 6 – 8 times in 3 sets.

Important Note

You are expected to receive a challenging situation in the seated version as it is very different from the standing version. However, this version offers extended support for the base of the body.

Those trying to use a heavy weight should support their back, using a back brace support. If your beginner uses light weights, watch the movement of the arms and weights in the first phase of the exercise. This will help avoid muscle injury as well as exercise failure.

5: Seated Barbell Press Overhead

(Equipment: Barbell, Bench)

(Target: Anterior Deltoid, Triceps )

Shoulder-Exercise - 5 - Seated Barbell Press Overhead

In shoulder bar exercises, sitting is generally believed to limit the movements of the exercise. This is could be true but it also provides strong core support for lifting, push the loads and back protection. Barbell is good for use as a second level, to improve the level of the muscular system instead of dumbbells.

How to Perform workout?

Step 1:  Sit on bench or chair, and keep your back straight. Put your feet flat on the ground.

Step 2: Hold the bar with an overhand grip a little wider than shoulder width, and place it on the top of your chest, this will be the begin position.

Step 3: Raise the bar by fully extending the arms upwards for 1-2 seconds while inhaling.

Step 4: Then return to the begin position, by lower the bar to rest on the chest while exhaling, so that the palms are at the same level as your shoulders.

During the Workout

As you slide the barbells down in the front of you, you’ll see how hard the arms feel, and try to come out from either side. This is an indication that your Anterior Delts are carrying the load and they are trying to manage it.

Focus on challenging weights for more momentum. Always make sure the seat back is supported for heavy loads.

6: Bent Over Reverse Fly using Dumbbells

(Equipment: Dumbbells )

(Target: Posterior Deltoid, Back Muscles)

Shoulder Exercise 6 - Reverse Fly with Dumbbells

This exercise is considered easy to perform, and it has an effect on the rear deltoid and also re-shape the back muscles.

How to Perform workout?

Step 1: Start in a standing position with your feet slightly apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand.

Step 2: While keeping your back straight, bend your knees slightly, then tilt your torso forward slightly at a 45-degree angle.

Step 3: Let your shoulders hang with the weights, palms facing each other and elbows slightly bent. This will be the starting position.

Step 4: Now start lifting the dumbbells at a gentle pace to the sides at your shoulder height. Make sure this lift is done by your shoulder muscles instead of lifting those weights with your arms.

Step 5: Then lower the weights to the starting position and repeat.

During Workout

The key with this exercise is to make sure you give all the power and pump to your shoulder and back muscles rather than your arms. People often perform this exercise at the wrong angle resulting in no output.

7: Seated Arnold Press with Dumbbell

(Equipment: Dumbbells )

(Target: Anterior and Side Deltoid, Triceps)

Shoulder-Exercise 7 - Arnold Shoulder Workout Press

The Arnold Press was truly invented by the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. He finds it an effective shoulder exercise.

How to Perform Arnold Shoulder Press?

Step 1: Sit on a bench, grab a dumbbell in each hand.

Step 2: Now place dumbbells in front of your chest, palms facing your chest, keeping your elbows aligned to your shoulders. This is the starting point.

Step 3: Begin by bringing your elbows out sideways to be beside your torso. As you raise the upper arms, to be parallel to your shoulder.

Step 4: Then lift your elbows out and press the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended straight.

Step 5: Now return to the starting position by lowering the dumbbells in the same way as lifting, to be ended in front of your chest.


During Workout

Attention and care are always needed to do an Arnold press. Basic overhead press is good at first. The Arnold press can come second after the overhead press. Increase the number of repetitions of the Arnold press if you used a heavier overhead press. A set of 10 – 12 reps is enough for you.

8: Rear Delt Fly Machine

(Equipment: Rear Delt Machine)

(Target: Posterior Delt)

Shoulder-Exercise 8 - Machine Rear Delt Exercises

Single shoulder joint movements use three types of arch movements. We are going to use this exercise to focus on the rear heads and it can be good for the middle heads as well. These rear exercises will definitely help you lift more weight. In order to maintain the rotator cuff and body posture, it is necessary to apply force and maintain the posterior delt volume.

This exercise requires more control, and the equipment will support control of this during the exercise.

How to Perform Rear Delt fly Machine?

Step 1: Sitting on the machine seat, select the appropriate weight and adjust the height of the seat machine so that the handles are at shoulder level.

Step 2: Hold the handles with your hands pointing inward. At first, the handles will be in front of your chest, this will be the starting position.

Step 3: Now pull the two handles to the side of your body, until your shoulders line up. Keep your arms slightly bent and pause at your sides for a second.

Step 4: Then slowly return the weight, until the handles are in front of the chest (return to the starting position).

There is a need to complete basic exercises before using the device. You will feel better if you warm up before the machine. Consider this routine to get away from quick burnout.

9: Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise

(Equipment: Dumbbells)

(Target: Lateral Shoulder Delt)

Shoulder-Exercise 9 - Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises

This is an excellent single shoulder joint exercise especially for women to improve the medial (lateral) functions. At first, you may face a problem while using the elbows. Beginners usually find it difficult.

Remember that it is best to continue using your strength (reduce your rest time) as you have to keep the arms at 90 degrees on both sides of your torso. Feel free to change dumbbells (lower weight) if you experience muscle failure.

How to Perform workout?

Step 1: Pick a pair of dumbbells on both hands and stand with a straight torso, the dumbbells at your side hanging from the arms, palms facing your torso (starting position)..

Step 2: As you exhale, begin to raise the dumbbells at your side with a slight bend at the elbow and hands slightly bent forward as if you were pouring a glass of water. Your arms should be parallel to the floor. Pause for a while when the arms are up.

Step 3: Now slowly lower the dumbbells down to the starting position while inhaling.

Most of the movements in this exercise are known to provide a higher level of stimulation to the middle delts region. If you think your rear delts don’t need further workouts, do this practice first.

10: Alternating Front Raises using Dumbbell

(Equipment: Dumbbells)

(Target: Anterior Delt Shoulder)

Shoulder-Exercise 10 - Alternate Front Dumbbell Raise

Lifting the arms from the front focuses directly on the anterior heads of the deltoid. We have considered this practice at the end of the exercises,  because most bodybuilders feel fatigue at this level after their previous training activity.

How to Perform workout?

Step 1: Pick a pair of dumbbells on both hands and stand with a straight torso, the dumbbells on the front of your thighs hanging from the arms, palms facing your thighs (starting position).

Step 2: Lift the left dumbbell forward, making sure that the arms are fully extended and parallel to the floor and the palms are facing the floor. Exhale during this step. Pause for a second while arms are up.

Step 3: Now slowly lower the dumbbells down to the starting position, to be facing the thigh

Step 4: Switching sides, alternating with the right hand do the same routine steps. Then repeat workout.


Shoulder exercises is a great muscle, it has 3 arches, Anterior, Lateral and Rear delts, once exercised well, it will result in a lean and toned shoulder shape.

Make sure you work all three delts muscles, to balance the entire main shoulder muscles, by following the exercise details above, which describe the target muscle area working for each exercise.


Challenge enough to Boost your Body to Next Strength level!

There’s (lots) more! In the next article, you’ll tackle different Muscles workouts.


6 thoughts on “10 Best Shoulder Workouts for Men & Women

    1. I’m extremely happy you like it. Actually it took very long time from me and efforts to post a useful info which contains every thing related possible for every workout muscle in this website, so every body can easily learn from the steps.

  1. This has to be one of the best workout sites I’ve seen. The only time I have seen images of muscles to be exercised is when I have been to the pain management clinic as I have a serious back injury. I’ve been a few exercises with light weights to strengthen my core for recovery post surgery and only then started to learn about how you can engage specific muscles and isolate them with just subtle changes to the exercise. I am so glad you kept the thorough detail with instructions, including the warm up, description of the exercise and images of each stage. I also really like the navigation between exercises. Thankyou, I will be coming back to this site to learn some more. I’m hoping I may be able to do some of the chest exercises lying down so I can do them without putting any strain on my lumbar area.

    1. Im exited Luigi that you like it. Actually it took from me huge time for weeks to pick and display the site in best navigation possible with rich information to the reader.
      Also i wish for you to recover soon of your injury, im sure by time you will get your health back, but you need to keep continue workout with light weight exercises.
      all best luck to you.

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