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Build Strong Shoulders With These 5 Shoulder Exercises


Grow your shoulders with this 5 move shoulder workout

The shoulders are often an overlooked and under appreciated muscle group, with workouts forgoing shoulder exercises in favour of focusing on the back or chest. While some chest and back exercises do target the shoulders, skipping out on a shoulder workout (either as a dedicated session or shoulder-specific exercises) can lead to an imbalance of muscles.

Why build strong shoulders?

The shoulder joint has a huge range of motion, and little stability. Add to this the fact that the shoulders are involved in many day-to-day activities, from hoovering through to carrying shopping bags, means that this area of the body is prone to injuries.

Strengthening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that keep the shoulders in place helps to prevent injuries, as well as assist with these functional activities. Strong shoulders also contribute to a healthy posture!

We’ve shared five of the best shoulder exercises for strength below.

5 shoulder strength exercises to start doing now

You can either combine the following exercises to make a complete shoulder workout or add the exercises into your existing workouts.

1. Overhead press
2. Kneeling shoulder press
3. Lateral raises
4. Cable throat pulls
5. Around the world

  1. Overhead press

    The overhead press is an amazing functional compound exercise that engages your shoulders, your lower back, and fires up your core and glutes for stability - all while also challenging your balance.

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and front rack the barbell up to your shoulders.
    • Both your elbows and forearms should be vertical, with your knuckles facing the ceiling.
    • Exhale as you drive the bar up above your head, keeping your core braced.
    • Avoid arching your back and aim for the bar to be in a straight line with your shoulders and hips.
    • Control the weight back to your front rack position and then repeat.
  2. Kneeling shoulder press

    Adding a half kneel into your shoulder press can make the exercise more challenging as it forces the power generation to come solely from your upper body with less compensation or movement through your legs and glutes. This is a great variation to add into your workout routine to challenge your shoulders and core in a different way.

    • Get into a half kneel position, with your right leg at a 90-degree angle.
    • Grab a dumbbell in your left hand, and front rack the dumbbell up to your shoulder.
    • Your palm should be facing inwards with your knuckles facing the ceiling.
    • Exhale and brace your core as you drive the dumbbell up overhead, keeping your arm and hand directly over your shoulder.
    • Keep a nice neutral spine and neutral gaze forwards.
    • Control the dumbbell on the way back down into your front rack position and then repeat.
  3. Lateral raises

    Lateral raises are a great exercise to work on your delts, particularly engaging your lateral and anterior deltoids. It also engages your upper back muscles such as your trapezius making it an excellent all-round exercise to sculpt your shoulders.

    • Position your feet hip-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inwards.
    • Stand tall, take a deep breath in and raise your arms simultaneously - lifting the dumbbells up and out with a slight bend in your elbow until you reach a “T” shape.
    • Pause and hold the dumbbells in the “T” shape at the top of the movement before slowly lowering the weights back down to your side. And repeat.
  4. Cable throat pulls

    Give your posterior delts some love with cable throat pulls (or cable face pulls as they are also called) in your next shoulder session. Cable throat pulls are brilliant for building strength and muscle on the back of your shoulders, which often gets neglected.

    • Adjust the cable machine to slightly above head height and attach the rope attachment.
    • Use the pin to select an appropriate weight for the exercise – we’d always recommend using a lighter weight to get the technique right first.
    • Hold the rope with an overhand grip shoulder-width apart and take a couple of steps back away from the cable machine to add tension
    • Pull rope towards your face with your elbows flared
  5. Around the world

    • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand
    • With your chest up and shoulders back lift your arms in a semi-circle motion, rotating your palms to face forward until they touch above your head
    • Lower back down in a semi-circle motion until your dumbbells are back by your side, and repeat

Need more inspiration for your next shoulder workout? Check out more shoulder workouts for the gym and at home here, or if you want more tailored advice why not work with a Personal Trainer at PureGym.

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