The 10 Best Shoulder Exercises

Are you searching for tried and tested ways to define and strengthen your shoulder delts? Certain exercises for shoulders build muscle, but some shoulder exercises are worthless.  Many bodybuilding websites claim their shoulder workouts are the best, but bodybuilders who want super-sized shoulders should follow these delt training guidelines. Here are ten of the most effective ways to exercise your shoulders:

1. The Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This is one of the shoulder exercises that target the rear, middle and anterior deltoids.

Sit down on a lower back bench. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and raise the hand weights above shoulder level. Keep your back aligned and your head straight. Stare ahead and shift your shoulders back a little as you move the weights towards each other. Stop moving the hand weights before they touch each other. Do a shoulder squeeze and slowly move the dumbbells back to their starting position. This is one of the top ten shoulder exercises that help to build wide round cannonball delts.

2. The Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

This is one of the unique shoulder exercises. It targets rear, middle and anterior deltoids.

This is one of the ultimate exercises for shoulders. Use the barbell press station at your local gym for this shoulder workout. Sit up straight on the barbell bench. Place your feet flat on the floor and arch your lower back a little. Using a palm forward grip, grasp the bar outside shoulder width.  Point your elbows outward and down. Lift the bar from the rack and hold it at shoulder height. Use a strong, smooth motion to press the bar upwards to just below elbow lockout. Give your shoulders a squeeze, take control of the bar, pull your face back slightly and lower the bar until it reaches your upper chest area.

3. The Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The Dumbbell Lateral Raise

One of the great shoulder exercises that targets the middle deltoids.

Stand up straight. Keep your shoulders back, chest up and your abs tight. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip and keep your head straight. Slowly raise the weights, in a wide arc movement, out towards your sides. Move your hands and elbows in unison.  Raise the hand-weights slightly above shoulder level and contract the shoulder muscles for a few seconds. Lower the weights slowly and repeat.

4. The Face Pull

The Face Pull

As exercises for shoulders go, this is a good exercise that targets the middle trapezius and the rear deltoids.

Attach a rope to a pull-down station and choose a weight heavy enough to counterbalance your body weight. Stand directly in front of the pulley and use an overhand grip to hold each end of the rope. Make sure your palms are facing. Raise your elbows out to the side and up to shoulder level. Anchor yourself by placing one foot on the kneepad. Lean back until your body forms a forty-five degree angle with the floor. Elevate your elbows and pull the rope back to meet your face. Keep pulling the rope backwards until your hands are in line with your ears. Shoulder squeeze, then repeat the exercise in reverse.

5. The Wide-Grip Smith-Machine Upright Row

The Wide-Grip Smith-Machine Upright Row

One of the best shoulder exercises and a shoulder exercise that targets trapezius, rear, middle and anterior deltoids.

Stand upright with your feet apart. Use an overhand grip to hold the Smith machine bar. Allow the bar to rest in front of your thighs. Twist and release the bar and allow your arms to hang down. Keep your core tight and knees slightly bent. Keep the bar close to your body. Flex your shoulders and pull the bar up towards your chin. Your elbows should be high and pointing outwards at top position. Hold the position for a few seconds before lowering the bar.

6. Push Press

Push Press

This is one of the greatest shoulder exercises. It targets the middle and anterior deltoids.

Do a barbell clean to get into the right position. Use an overhand grip, elbows forward, palms upwards and upper arms in line with the floor as the bar comes to rest on your upper chest.  Allow your knees to bend so you can dip into a quarter-squat. Push your legs upwards, extend the arms, fully extend the elbows and lift the bar above your head. Hold the bar there for a couple of seconds, lower it back to your upper-chest area and repeat.

7. Cable Front Raise

Cable Front Raise

Few exercises for shoulders are as good as this one. The front raise targets the front deltoid muscles.

Take a D-handle in one hand. Stand with your back to a low-cable pulley and adopt a staggered shoulder-width stance. Elevate your chest, keep your back flat and bend your knees slightly. Raise the cable upwards and outwards until your working upper-arm is in line with your shoulder.  Squeeze the shoulder, lower the arm and repeat.

8. One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise

One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise

One of the ultimate shoulder exercises to target the middle deltoids.

Stand to one side of a low-cable pulley. Place your feet shoulder width apart. Grasp a D-handle in the hand furthest away from the pulley. Place your non-working arm on your hip. Keep your chest up, shoulders back and abs tight. Gently raise the cable to the side in a semi-circular movement. Move your elbow and hand at the same pace. Raise your arm to just above shoulder-level, hold it there to contract the deltoid muscle, and then lower it slowly.

9. Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

One of the many exercises for shoulders that targets the rear deltoids.

Take a dumbbell in each hand. Pull your chest up, bend your knees slightly, keep your back flat and focus on the floor in front of you. Bend your hips until your body is in line with the floor. Allow the hand-weights to hang down, keep your elbows slightly bent. Raise the dumbbells upwards and outwards in a semi-circular motion until the upper-arms are in line with the floor. Stop to squeeze the shoulder muscles, lower the dumbbells slowly and begin the next rep.

10. The Cable Reverse Fly

The Cable Reverse Flye

This is one of the shoulder exercises that targets the rear deltoid muscles. A little more complex than many exercises for shoulders, but a useful muscle builder.

Fit D-handles to the top pulley of the cable machine.  Take the left handle in your right hand, take a step over the exercise machine and grasp the right handle in your left hand. Step into the middle of the machine. Hold your palms in a neutral grip and straighten the elbows. Elevate your arms to shoulder level and lock your elbows. Engage your rear deltoid muscles by taking your arms to the side and pulling the handles to the opposite side. At this point, your arms will be in an “open hug” pose. Reverse the movements to take the handles to the start position.

These ten important shoulder exercises will improve the appearance of your deltoids.  Exercises for shoulders vary, but the right shoulder workout keeps your deltoid muscles powerful, strong and injury-free.

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  1. I’m a big fan of the DB Lateral Raises. It doesn’t take much weight for it to shred your shoulders.

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