11 Shoulder Exercises That Would Make Arnold Schwarzenegger Proud of You

Shoulders are the first place to get hurt and the last place to get big, according to fitness trainers. But with time, dedication, and the right attitude it’s possible to grow lean and defined muscles. The key principle is to engage all the shoulder muscles and not forget about the proper exercise technique. Always perform a warm up before a workout to prevent injuries!

We at Bright Side prepared some exercises that can help enhance your shoulder strength and improve your appearance and posture. Incorporate them into your workout routine and you’ll see the results pretty soon.

1. Arnold press

The Arnold press is an effective exercise that engages all 3 sections of your shoulder. It’ll contribute to muscle gain and help stabilize the shoulder joint.

  • Sit on a bench, take the dumbbells in your hands, and raise them to chest level. Your palms should be facing your body.
  • Exhale and lift the dumbbells above your head rotating the palms of your hands. They should face forward when you finish the movement. Hold this position for a second.
  • Inhale and return the dumbbells to the starting position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.

It’s better to perform this exercise on a bench with back support to minimize the risk of injuries. Some people perform this exercise standing up, but you should be careful if you have lower back problems or you’re not sure that you’ll be able to maintain the proper posture during the exercise.

2. Upright row

The upright row targets the middle and front part of the deltoids and the trapezius muscle, so it helps make the shoulders look more round and wide.

  • Hold the barbell with your hands slightly less wide than shoulder-width. Keep your back straight and don’t swing your body.
  • Exhale and engage your shoulder muscles to lift the barbell to the chest level. The barbell should be as close to your body as possible. Your upper arms shouldn’t be higher than your shoulders.
  • Inhale and return to the initial position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps.

You can replace the barbell with dumbbells or use a cable machine with a straight bar.

3. Lateral raise

The lateral raise is a great exercise to hit the lateral deltoids, which is the part of the shoulder that makes them look broader.

  • Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart. Take the dumbbells in both hands, slightly bend the elbows, and keep the dumbbells close to the sides of your body.
  • Exhale and lift the dumbbells to the sides until they are at shoulder height.
  • Pause for a second and return to the initial position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps.

As you become more experienced, you can try to rotate your arms to engage different parts of the shoulder muscles.

4. Barbell front raise

The barbell front raise primarily focuses on the front part of the shoulder, but it also engages the upper chest muscles and the sides of the shoulder.

  • Take the barbell with both hands and place it in front of your thighs. Your back should be straight, and your legs should be shoulder-width apart. Don’t tilt your torso back when you perform the exercise.
  • Slightly bend your elbows and raise your arms until they’re parallel to the floor and pause for a second.
  • Return to the initial position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps.

It’s better to lie on the bench while performing this exercise to improve the range of motion and prevent possible injuries.

5. Inclined bench press

The inclined bench press activates the front part of the shoulders and doesn’t put too much pressure on the rotator cuff. As a bonus, it helps your chest muscles grow as well.

  • Set a bench incline at 15-30 degrees. Lie on the bench with the dumbbells in your hands. Hold them above your chest.
  • Lower the dumbbells, bending your elbows until they’re parallel to your chest.
  • Return the dumbbells to the initial position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.

You can replace the dumbbells with a barbell.

6. Barbell bent over row

The barbell bent over row is a basic compound exercise that engages your back and shoulder muscles making them wider and stronger.

  • Keeping your back straight, slightly bend your knees, and bring your torso forward. You should keep your head up.
  • Exhale and lift the barbell to your waist. Your elbows should be close to your body. Squeeze the muscles and stay in this position for a second.
  • Slowly return to the initial position.
  • Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

You can perform the exercise with the dumbbells or use different variations of hand grips.

7. Shrugs

Shrugs work the trapezius muscle that will make your spine and shoulders look wider and more muscular.

  • Stand with your back straight and with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take the dumbbells in both hands with palms facing your body and the arms extended to the sides.
  • Raise your shoulders as high as possible. Stay in this position for a second. Try to use only your shoulder muscles to lift the weight.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

You can replace dumbbells with a barbell, bands, or use a cable machine.

8. Bent over reverse fly

The bent over reverse fly targets the back part of your shoulders and helps improve your posture and the performance of other shoulder exercises.

  • Take the dumbbells in both hands. Keeping your back straight, tilt your body forward until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Your arms should be straight but you should bend your elbows a little to avoid unnecessary stress on the joints.
  • Raise the dumbbells to the sides, engaging your rear delts.
  • Stay in this position for a second and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps.

You can perform this exercise on a bench or using a special row-rear delt machine.

9. Dips

Dips are a compound exercise that activate the shoulder and chest muscles while also engaging your back.

  • Get on the parallel bars and straighten your arms.
  • Keep your back straight and bend your arms to lower your upper body. You should lean forward a bit.
  • Keep bending your elbows until you feel the stretch in your shoulders. Then slowly return to the initial position.
  • Repeat 3-4 sets for 10-12 reps.

If you can’t perform a dip with the right technique, you can use a machine for assisted dips. If your muscles are strong enough, you can perform this exercise with additional weight.

10. Standing rope face pull

The standing rope face pull works your rear delts without putting excessive pressure on your joints.

  • Keeping your back straight, pull the rope up to your face while squeezing your back and shoulder muscles. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for a second and return to the starting position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps,

It’s important to maintain the proper technique while you perform this exercise. This is to make sure you work mostly your delts and not your back muscles.

11. Knee roll-out

The knee roll-out exercise is an additional exercise that works your entire body and helps stabilize shoulder muscles and joints.

  • Get on your knees and try to roll out as far as possible. Keep your back straight. Your head should be in a neutral position.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Do 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps.

You may not be able to roll all the way down to the floor at first, but just go as far as you can without arching your back.

Do you use any of these exercises in your workout routine? Which technique works best for you? Share your photos with the results of your training in the comments below!

Illustrated by Alena Tsarkova for BrightSide.me