You can work out your biceps, triceps, and all the other “ceps” as much as you want, but perhaps the most satisfying parts of the body to exercise are shoulders. The burn after some intense shoulder presses is incomparable, and the results are even better.
If you’re looking to buff up those shoulder muscles, we’ve got some amazing exercises for you to try. The best part is that you can do most of these right in your own home: no expensive machines required.
Let’s take a look at some of the best shoulder workouts to give your arms a gratifying boost.
Understanding the Shoulder Muscles
While you can try picking up some weights and just going at it, the only way to truly look exactly the way you want is by first understanding the muscles involved in each workout. Many people refer to the “shoulder muscle” as a singular entity. But the reality is that your shoulders are composed of multiple different muscles and tendons.
The main muscle you’re probably concerned with is the deltoid, broken up into the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoid. These compose the front, top, and back of your shoulder, respectively.
However, many of your upper back muscles are also involved in shoulder workouts. These include your trapezius, which is the muscle in between your shoulder and neck. Shoulder workouts also test your rhomboids in between the shoulder blades and the latissimus dorsi along your mid and lower back.
Now that we’ve got the biology stuff out of the way let’s put these muscles to work.
1. Overhead Shoulder Press
Even people who are new to working out are familiar with the shoulder press. This is a great workout for those delts and your traps. But on top of that, it’s a great way to strengthen the core and give those triceps some love. Grab some dumbbells or your Gorilla Bow, and let’s get started.
The overhead shoulder press will look like this:
- Feet hip-width apart, standing on the resistance band portion of the Gorilla Bow if applicable. Hold the dumbbells or bar at shoulder width.
- Push the weights upward above your head. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the peak. Tighten your core so that your back is not arched.
- Lower the weights steadily and slowly. Repeat.
Want an extra challenge? Hold the weights at your side and perform a squat. At the apex of the squat, move into a shoulder press.
2. Front Raise
The Gorilla Bow provides excellent tension for this movement. This exercise is deceptively difficult despite utilizing a seemingly limited range of motion. For that reason, don’t overextend yourself when it comes to reps. With that said, it will leave your deltoids begging for mercy.
- Position your hands in front of you on the bow, shoulder width apart while standing on the resistance band.
- Keeping your arms straight, raise the bow to shoulder level. Retract your shoulder blades.
- Lower the bow slowly and carefully back to the starting position. Repeat.
3. Inverted Shoulder Press
This bodyweight variation of a push-up is a great way to strengthen your shoulders while also activating your traps. While this movement is definitely more challenging if you can rest your feet on a bench, it’s not necessary.
- Get into position like you’re about to do a normal push-up. However, raise your hips so that your torso is nearly perpendicular to the floor. It should feel reminiscent of a downward dog yoga pose.
- With your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, bend your elbows to lower your body until your head nearly touches the floor.
- Hold for a second, and push your body back up, arms straight. Repeat.
4. Chest Fly
Despite the name, chest flies can still do some work on your deltoid muscles and trapezius muscles. If you’re using dumbbells, you’ll need to do this while lying on a bench. But if you’ve got the Gorilla Bow handy, no bench is required.
- Either remove the resistance band from the bow or just hold the bow portion while allowing the bar to hang underneath. If using dumbbells, lay with your back on the bench, palms facing up, arms straight out with a slight bend.
- Keeping your arms straight, bring your hands forward so they are in line with your shoulders. Be sure to squeeze your chest muscles here.
- Slowly return the weights or resistance band to starting position. When here, squeeze your shoulder blades together as close as you can.
5. Lateral Raise
This exercise works wonders on the lateral deltoids on the top of your shoulder, as the name implies. You’ll want some dumbbells for this one.
- Feet shoulder-width apart. Stand tall with your abs tight and your chest up. Bend your knees slightly, holding the dumbbells at your sides.
- With only a slight bend in your elbows, raise your arms to the sides of your body until they hit just above shoulder level.
- Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
6. Bent-Over Lateral Raise
Are your deltoids burning? Well, we’re not done yet. This lateral raise variation will focus a bit more on the posterior deltoid while also giving some love to the traps and latissimus dorsi.
- Feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge your hips back, slightly bend your knees, and keep your back flat. Bend over until your core is nearly parallel to the ground, allowing the weights to hang beneath you. Slightly bend your elbows.
- Raise both dumbbells up and out to your sides. Think of it like you’re a bird flapping its weighted wings.
- Once the weights reach shoulder height, slowly return them to starting position. Repeat.
Shrugging is a powerful shoulder workout. It’s simple, but it can have your deltoids and traps wishing you had never gotten out of bed.
- Feet shoulder-width apart. You want a lot of weight for this one, so get some bigger dumbbells or add some resistance to your Gorilla Bow. Stand on the resistance band portion of the bow. Hold the weights down at your thighs, allowing your arms to rest down in front of you.
- Shrug your shoulders so that the weight moves up towards your waist. Keep your arms straight -- we’re isolating only the shoulders here.
- Lower the weights back down and repeat.
8. High Plank
At this point, your shoulders should be about ready to give out. But we’ve got three more exercises until you can claim victory. High planks are just as great for your core as they are for your shoulders.
- Get into a neutral plank position, but instead of resting your arms on the floor, you’ll want to place your hands on the ground. Imagine you did a push-up, but you’re stuck at the top.
- Keep your core and back straight -- don’t let your stomach dip towards the ground. Hold for as long as you can, ideally around a minute.
Need a break? Instead of stopping, try placing your knees on the ground while continuing to hold the high plank position. This makes it easier but lets you keep working.
9. Tricep Dips
Names can be deceiving because the tricep dip will have your shoulders burning just as much as your tris. You’ll need a bench or some kind of elevated surface for this one.
- Sit on the floor with your back up against the bench. Place your arms behind you, holding onto the side of the bench for support.
- Using the strength of your arms, lift your body up, keeping your feet stationary on the floor. Try to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle at the highest point.
- Slowly lower yourself to starting position. Repeat.
10. The Arnold Press
We saved the best for last. The Arnold press is a complex movement that works your lats, traps, delts -- pretty much everything you can think of. So let’s finish off strong.
- Feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your dumbbells in front of you at shoulder level, palms facing you, elbows bent and close to your sides.
- Using your shoulders, rotate your arms to your sides so that the weights are in the shoulder press starting position.
- Lift the weights up above your head as you would a shoulder press.
- Lower the weight back down to starting shoulder press position. Then, bring your arms back into the starting position of the Arnold Press.
The Cool Down
Shoulders burning yet? There’s no better way to give your overall physique a bulkier and more toned look than by completing these ten exercises on your next shoulder day. And since you can do all of these from home, there’s no excuse not to get some gains in.
If you’re looking to amplify these workouts and your total body workouts as a whole, you’ll want to add the Gorilla Bow to your fitness arsenal. It’s a full-body workout wherever you want to be. Click here when you’re ready to cancel your gym membership.