Build Up Strong Shoulders With a Muscle-Blasting Dumbbell Circuit

January 24, 2012

Must See Strength Training Videos

No matter the sport, shoulder strength is a key component of athletic success. But shoulder health is often something we take for granted.

Training the muscles of the shoulder helps prevent injury—which is extremely important considering the shoulder can move into more than 1,600 different positions! There is more movement at the shoulder joint than at any other joint in the body.

To keep your shoulders strong, healthy and functional, try the Dumbbell Shoulder Matrix, an intense dumbbell circuit that tackles all the muscles of the shoulder in an intense, functional fashion—all while using just 10- to 20-pound dumbbells. I prefer dumbbells over barbell shoulder exercises, because dumbbells allow for more natural shoulder movements.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Shoulder Circuit
Six exercises are performed in a non-stop circuit fashion. You do two sets, with a two-minute rest between them. To begin, grab dumbbells ranging from 10 to 20 pounds and follow the workout below:

  • Set 1: Perform all exercises for 12 reps
  • Rest two minutes
  • Set 2: Perform all exercises for eight reps

1. Upright Row

  • Grasp dumbbells with overhand grip
  • Raise dumbbells straight up to shoulders
  • At top position, elbows will be above shoulders
  • Lower to starting position; repeat

2. Lateral Raise

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep back straight and elbows slightly bent
  • Raise dumbbells to shoulder level while keeping palms facing body
  • Lower to starting position; repeat

3. Front Raise

  • Hold dumbbells with palms facing thighs
  • With elbows slightly bent, lift arms straight out to shoulder level
  • Lower to starting position; repeat

4. Bent-Over Raise

  • Hold dumbbells next to sides
  • With knees slightly bent, bend at waist, keeping back flat and core tight
  • Raise arms to sides until elbows are at shoulders
  • Lower to starting position; repeat

5. Close-Grip Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

  • Bend at waist until torso is parallel to floor
  • Keep core tight with knees slightly bent
  • Hold dumbbells hanging down with slight bend in elbows
  • Pull dumbbells up until elbows are level with torso
  • Lower to starting position; repeat

6. Overhand Grip Wide Bent-Over Row

  • Holding dumbbells, bend at hips
  • Keep core tight and do not arch back
  • Let dumbbells hang at arm's length
  • Without moving torso, pull dumbbells and squeeze shoulder blades together
  • Lower to starting position; repeat


A strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level since 2002, Jason Spray is currently the director of strength and conditioning for men’s basketball and assistant director for football at Middle Tennessee State University, where he also aids in day-to-day physical and nutritional development. Spray earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee and is CSCS, SCCC, USAW, NSCA, NASE, FMS and CSCCa certified. He is also a USA Weightlifting Club coach and a certified physical therapy aide. Spray has trained athletes ranging from high school to professional and Olympic levels. He has been featured in Premier Players Magazine and is the head sports performance adviser for RSP Nutrition.

Jason Spray
- A strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level since 2002, Jason Spray is a head strength coach at Middle Tennessee State University, where he...
Jason Spray
- A strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level since 2002, Jason Spray is a head strength coach at Middle Tennessee State University, where he...
Must See
Colin Kaepernick Explains His Ridiculous Socks
Views: 27,860,608
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 6,829,964
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 5,073,746

Featured Videos

Abby Wambach's Med Ball Core Workout Views: 187,099
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 12,178
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 5: Fundamentals Training Views: 220,234
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,842
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,378
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,865,919
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,784
Johny Hendricks Workout Overview
Views: 822,554

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

The weight room should be an athlete's second home during the offseason. A well-structured strength and conditioning plan can help an athlete build...

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

3 Tips to Blast Through Training Plateaus

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

Train Like a Pro: Dustin Pedroia's Baseball Power Workout