Looking to target your shoulders with a challenging workout, but strapped for time or lack gym access? Grab a pair of dumbbells, perform these exercises and admire the results.
Be sure to stick to correct form throughout the exercises and don't overdo it. Most shoulder injuries occur in the deltoids as a result of poor technique or overuse.
Dumbbell Upright Row
This exercise targets the trapezius muscles as well as the shoulder muscles.
- Hold two dumbbells in front, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
- Pull the dumbbells up, allowing your elbows to jut out on either side
- Pull the dumbbells almost to chin level
- Lower the dumbbells to your waist and repeat for specified reps (see below)
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Sitting on a bench, raise the dumbbells next to your shoulders, palms facing forward
- Press the dumbbells over your head
- Pause briefly at the top, but do not let the dumbbells touch each other
- Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder level at a controlled pace and repeat the entire motion
Another way to perform the exercise is to start with your palms facing you and rotate your wrists as you push up through the press, so your palms face out at the top of the motion. This is nicknamed the "Arnold Press," after Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dumbbell Front Raise
- While standing, hold two dumbbells with your arms stretched in front of you
- Keeping your body stationary, lift the dumbbells up
- Your palms should face the floor for the entire motion
- Lift the dumbbells slightly above parallel to the floor, then lower them back to starting position in a controlled manner
Another variation is to lift one dumbbell at a time, alternating sides. As with simultaneous raises, do not swing your body to lift the weight.
Bent-Over Lateral Raise
Bent-over Lateral Raises are a simple twist on the traditional Lateral Raise. They accent the posterior deltoids. Squeezing the shoulder blades together at the top of the exercise also works the middle and lower trapezius muscles.
Variation: Lie on an incline bench while doing the exercise.
One-Dumbbell Front Raise
Front raises with only one dumbbell target the anterior deltoid muscles. I like to do them as a finishing move, performing as many reps as I can to complete my shoulder workout.
Sample Dumbbell Shoulder Workout
- Dumbbell Upright Row—4x8
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press—4x8
- Dumbbell Front Raise—5x12
- Bent-Over Lateral Raise—3x10
- One-Dumbbell Front Raise—to failure
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