Who doesn’t want strong shoulders? Toned and defined shoulders not only look aesthetically pleasing but also play an essential role in improving your overall strength. To that effect, knowing about the best shoulder-strengthening exercises will go a long way in helping you achieve your desired body goals.

Shoulder Strengthening Exercises
Image credits: Courtesy Instagram/Lee Joongi

Usually, shoulders are involved in many upper body movements such as pushing, pulling and lifting, while also playing a key role in helping you maintain a good posture. Whether you’re a beginner at working out or a seasoned pro, incorporating shoulder exercises into your workout routine can help you build stronger muscles while also improving your overall strength. So on that note, here are six exercises we recommend adding to your workout for your next shoulder day at the gym.

6 shoulder strengthening exercises to try out

Here are some effective shoulder strengthening exercises that you can add to your workout routine, along with some tips to help you get the most out of your shoulder workouts.

Shoulder Press

Also known as the overhead press, the shoulder press is a compound exercise that primarily targets the shoulders, triceps and upper chest. To do shoulder presses, you should sit on a bench with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Now, with your palms facing forward and your elbows bent, press the dumbbells up and overhead until your arms are fully extended. Hold for a moment, then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder height.

When performing shoulder presses, it’s important to keep your core engaged and your back straight to avoid injuries. Moreover, start with weights that allow you to perform the exercise without compromising on your form. You can gradually increase the weight you’re lifting as you progress. It is also important to avoid locking out your elbows at the top of the movement, as this can put unnecessary strain on your joints.

Upright Rows

Upright rows are another compound exercise that focuses on your traps and shoulders. To do this exercise, start off with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell with an overhand grip, with your hands slightly closer than shoulder-width apart. Allow the barbell to hang down in front of your body with your arms fully extended and elbows pointed out to the sides. Now lift the barbell up towards your chin, leading with your elbows. Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position.

Pro tip: You can also do the same exercise with dumbells for a cool variation.

Rear Delt Flyes

Rear delt flyes are an isolation exercise that targets the posterior head of the deltoid muscle in the shoulder. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing in towards each other. Move forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and your core engaged, then allow your arms to hang down towards the ground with your elbows slightly bent. Keeping your arms straight, lift the dumbbells out to the sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you lift. Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.

Front Raises

If you want to flaunt toned (and strong!) shoulders, front raises are a wonderful exercise to incorporate into your workouts. This exercise targets the front of your shoulders, especially the anterior deltoids. Like most exercises, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing your body. Keeping your arms straight, lift the dumbbells in front of you until they are parallel to the ground and hold on for a bit, then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to your sides.

You can also carry out this exercise by using different types of equipment, such as a barbell or resistance bands, or by performing it while standing on one leg.

Lateral Raises

Lateral raises help you focus on the side muscles of your shoulder. To do this exercise, begin by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body and your elbows slightly bent. Now raise your arms out to the sides until they are parallel to the ground, with your palms facing down. Hold for a moment then slowly lower your arms back down to your sides. Incorporating this exercise into your workouts will help improve your overall strength, balance and stability.


Push-ups not only help you build your chest muscles and triceps but they also strengthen your shoulders. For performing a basic push-up, you should start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your wrists directly under your shoulders. Engage your core and lower yourself down by bending your elbows, keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels. When your chest is just above the ground (make sure you do not touch the ground!), pause for a second, then push back up to the starting position by straightening your arms.

(Hero and feature image credit: Courtesy Unsplash/Meagan Stone and Anastase Maragos)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Can I do shoulder and back workouts together?

Answer: Yes, as shoulder and back exercises do not interfere with each other, you can do them together as part of the same workout.

Question: Which is the best exercise for your shoulders?

Answer: Exercises such as push-ups, shoulder presses, front raises, lateral raises are some of the best for building and strengthening your shoulders.

Question: Are shoulder exercises effective?

Answer: Shoulder strength training can make you stronger and help you flaunt a toned body, while also reducing your risk of injury by strengthening your core muscles.

Question: How to get muscular shoulders?

Answer: With the right shoulder-strengthening exercises and a proper diet, one can achieve toned and muscular shoulders.

written by.

Sanika Achrekar

Digital Writer, Augustman
Sanika lives for fashion and skincare. She enjoys writing about style, beauty, and lifestyle. She worked as a fashion writer for Man's World India magazine. When not writing about designers and trends, she likes to shop, travel, try new Sushi restaurants, practise pilates and rewatch her comfort shows.
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