The 7 Best Shoulder Workouts For Men, According to Row House’s Master Coach

Strong shoulders are critical in providing the strength and support your arms need to push harder, throw harder, and build bigger biceps and triceps — all while avoiding injury. Shoulder injuries are disastrous, putting a swift end to lifting, ball playing, and more. Even common daily tasks like carrying groceries will be painful and potentially damage your shoulder further. Therefore, the best way to avoid shoulder injuries is also the best way to work on your sculpted beach body: Exercise.

Related Guides

“When you build stability, mobility, and flexibility in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, it keeps you injury-free,” said Gretchen Raddatz, Master Coach for fitness brand Row House.

To help you get those large, rounded shoulders that will protect you from injury this summer, we asked Raddatz to compile this step-by-step guide to the best shoulder exercises. These exercises can be incorporated into HIIT workouts for a full-body burn, or they can functional as a stand-alone routine. Before following Raddatz’s exercises, it’s important to understand how these movements work to target the muscles in and around your shoulders.

These muscles are divided into two groups: Extrinsic and intrinsic shoulder muscles. The extrinsic muscles include the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and levator scapulae. The intrinsic muscles are the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, rotator cuff, and teres major. The exercises below are designed to hit all of these muscles for an intense yet well-rounded shoulder workout. Grab your home workout gear and let’s get to work.

Overhead Shoulder Press

Muscles Targeted: Deltoid (anterior, medial, and posterior) and trapezius
Equipment Needed: Cap Barbell Dumbbells
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 3

This exercise can be done standing or seated. With a dumbbell in each hand and holding the weights at the shoulders with an overhand grip, start with your feet hip-distance apart, keeping the back straight. Press up and bring the dumbbells together over your head, then slowly lower back to starting position.

“Avoid arching your back by keeping the abdomen braced, glutes contracted during the press, and tipping the pelvis inward slightly,” says Gretchen. “Lower the weights only to your shoulders.”

Once your shoulders are fit and used to weight, you can add on the pounds and make this a low-rep, high-return muscle builder, but start lighter to stay safe.

Front Delt Raise

Muscles Targeted: Anterior deltoid, medial/middle deltoid, and trapezius
Equipment Needed: Cap Barbell Dumbbells
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 3

With light weights, begin this exercise standing with your feet about hip-distance apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing back — horizontal to the thighs — slowly raise your arms out in front of you until they are parallel to the floor, maintaining a small bend in the elbow. Hold, then lower slowly with control. Repeat.

“Avoid using momentum, and take your time on the way up and down,” recommends Gretchen. ” [Your] wrists should remain neutral, not bent.”

Lateral Delt Raise

fitness at home standing dumbbell fly
Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir/Getty Images

Muscles Targeted: Medial/middle deltoid, rotator cuff, and trapezius
Equipment Needed: Cap Barbell Dumbbells
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 3

Again, use light weights for this exercise. Begin standing with your feet about hip-distance apart and a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in toward the body alongside the thighs with a slight bend in the elbow. Begin lifting the weights up and out to your sides. Once the arms are parallel to the floor (about even with your shoulder), bring the weight back down slowly with control. Repeat.

A note on form: Remember to brace the core, keep feet hip-distance apart, and pull your shoulders back and down. “If you rotate your hands, raising your pinkies slightly higher than your thumbs, you’ll feel more activation in the lateral deltoid muscle,” says Gretchen.

Bent-Over Reverse Fly

Muscles Targeted: Posterior deltoid, trapezius, and rhomboids
Equipment Needed: Cap Barbell Dumbbells
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 3

The reverse fly is actually as much a back exercise as a shoulder exercise, but it can strengthen the lower muscles of the shoulder group and help support and protect your entire shoulder while also helping you build up that coveted V-shape. So bang ’em out.

Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hinge forward at the hips to a 45-degree angle, keeping a slight bend in the knees. Grab a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Lift the weights out to the sides of your body, squeezing the shoulder blades together and keeping a slight bend in the elbow. Bring the weights back down gently.

“Look down and maintain alignment through the neck and spine so you are not straining your neck,” says Gretchen. “Avoid swinging/jerking the weights to bring them up. Keep it slow, steady, and smooth.”

Arnold Press

Muscles Targeted: Anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, and rotator cuff
Equipment Needed: Cap Barbell Dumbbells
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 3

This exercise hits all three muscles in the deltoid and works on rotational movement through the press portion of the lift. It helps increase shoulder stability, hitting the inside shoulder muscles at the bottom of the lift. Feel free to pick up some of the heavier weights you have lying around your home gym for this one.

Start with a dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-distance apart, keeping your back straight and core activated. Hold the weights at the shoulders with your palms facing the body. Start by taking the elbows out wider, rotating the wrists so the palms face forward as you bring the weights straight up overhead, and then move back down through it.

Upright Row

Muscles Targeted: Anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, and trapezius
Equipment Needed: Cap Barbell Dumbbells
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 3

This exercise can be done standing or seated and with heavier weights. Start by holding the weights in front of your thighs, palms facing the body. The feet should be hip- to shoulder-width apart, and you want to keep the weights close to your body as you pull them up toward your chest, letting the elbows flare out at about shoulder height. Bring the weights back down and repeat.

Circle Press

Muscles Targeted: Trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, levator scapulae, anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, rotator cuff, and teres major
Equipment Needed: Cap Barbell Dumbbells
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 3

In a standing position with the feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, start with a pair of low-weight dumbbells. Hold them against the thighs with the palms facing forward, away from the body. Bring the dumbbells out to the side of the body and up overhead, and then reverse the movement back down. Repeat.

Editors' Recommendations