10 best shoulder exercises for your home workout
The shoulder is made of two joints. One joint is between the shoulder blade (scapula) and collar bone (clavicle) called the acromioclavicular joint. The other joint is a type of ball and socket joint between the upper end of the bone of the arm (humerus) and shoulder blade. This joint is called the glenohumeral joint. It is one of the largest and most mobile joints in the body. Several movements occur at the shoulder joint. The ability for a varied range of motion at the shoulder comes at the cost of stability of the shoulder joints. Various structures including the muscles and their tendons, nerves and blood vessels are present at the shoulder. The shoulders enable us to perform various tasks such as lifting objects, pushing, throwing and maintaining a good posture. Thus, one must keep their shoulders healthy by regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Various shoulder exercises exist, but you must consult your doctor or physiotherapist before trying them to avoid any injury to the shoulder. If you are recovering from a shoulder injury, you must do the exercises under your physiotherapist’s guidance.
The 10 shoulder exercises that you can easily include as a part of your home workout are as follows
- Chest press: Lie down on the floor, an exercise bench or a mat with your knees bent. Take dumbbells of suitable weights in your hands. Position the dumbbells to the sides of the chest so that the bent arm is under each dumbbell. Press the dumbbells up with the elbows to the sides until the arms are extended. Lower the dumbbells slowly to the sides of the chest. Repeat from step one. You can do this exercise using a barbell instead of dumbbells. Make sure you start small.
- Bent-over rows: Stand with your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart. Bend the knees slightly and hold dumbbells in each hand with a neutral grip. Hinge forward from the hips so that your torso is roughly parallel to (or slightly above) the floor. This is the starting position. Drive the elbows behind the trunk while retracting the shoulder blades. Now pull the dumbbells toward the trunk until the elbows are at or just past the midline. Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position and repeat.
- Push-ups: Lie on the floor with your face downward. Place your palms slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders. Extend your legs back so that you are balanced on your hands and toes. Keep your body in a straight line from the head to toe without arching your back. You can keep your feet together or slightly apart depending on what is the most comfortable for you. Keep your core tight, inhale slowly, bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Breathe out and push yourself back up through your hands to the starting position. Keep your elbows slightly bent during this workout. Do not lock the elbows. Repeat this exercise.
- Contralateral limb raises: Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and toes pointing away from your shin. Extend the arms overhead so that the palms are facing each other. Keep your core tight as you breathe out while raising the opposite arm and leg (left arm and right shoulder) a few inches above the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds and do the same for the other limbs. Repeat this exercise.
- Dumbbell shoulder press: Stand upright with the back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip at the level of your shoulders. Your thumbs should be on the inside and the knuckles facing upward. Raise the weights above the head slowly while exhaling. Hold at the top of the motion and then return to the starting position while inhaling. Repeat.
- Dumbbell lateral raises: Hold dumbbells in front of the thighs with the elbows slightly bent. Bend slightly at the hips and knees. Raise the arms on the sides until the elbows are at the shoulder level. Lower the arms and repeat.
- Standing dumbbell or barbell shrugs: Hold dumbbells in front of the thighs with the elbows slightly bent. Bend slightly at the hips and knees. Stand up tall keeping the spine in a neutral position. Contract the traps to elevate the shoulders. Return to the starting position and repeat.
- Inchworms: Stand with your feet together or slightly apart. Keep your abs tight. Gently breathe out and bend downward keeping your legs straight. Touch the ground and crawl forward until you attain a push-up position and your back is parallel to the ground. Crawl back in the same way until you reach the standing position. Inhale and repeat from the first step.
- Front raises: Hold dumbbells in both hands with a neutral grip. Starting with the dumbbells in front of you, slowly bring them up to just below the eye level. Pause at the top and then lower slowly in a controlled motion. Repeat.
- Chest flys: Lie on your back with the knees bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand so that the hands are raised above with the palms facing inward. Lower the arms laterally while opening the chest as you lower the dumbbells. Repeat.
Medically Reviewed on 1/26/2021
American Council on Exercise