3 Exercises That Train All of Your Shoulder Muscles

Keep your shoulder muscles strong and mobile with these three exercises from STACK Expert Brian Pankau.

Shoulder exercises are essential for all athletes, because they strengthen the muscles and joints they use the most throughout the day.

Shoulders have the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. Strengthening them creates structure and stability not just in the deltoids, but also in the surrounding muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Healthy Shoulders

In addition, shoulder exercises improve posture, which increases the size of your deltoids and makes them look great, even under a suit.

The most common shoulder exercises are compound lifts, meaning they engage multiple muscle groups and joints. Movements like the Barbell Overhead Press mainly recruit the middle deltoid muscles and the triceps.

Below are three more exercises to incorporate into your shoulder training program. To prevent injuries to your shoulders, always perform a proper dynamic warm-up. An easy way to accomplish this is by doing Arm Circles to the front and back.

1. Seated Arnold Dumbbell Press

The Overhead Shoulder Press primarily recruits your middle deltoids, since your elbows are out and to the sides. Due to its different elbow placement, the Arnold Press takes a different approach, rotating your shoulders in different ranges. At the start of the exercise, your elbows are out in front of your body and initiate the movement. This allows your front deltoids to get the greatest emphasis.

When you press the dumbbells up and rotate your palms away from your body, you activate your middle deltoid muscles. As you drop your elbows and rotate the dumbbells back to start position, you activate your anterior deltoids to fight against gravity and prevent the weight from falling.

This is a well-rounded shoulder exercise that also encourages muscle recruitment from secondary muscles—your triceps, pectorals and trapezius as well.

2. Anti-Gravity Press

There is a bit of a dispute about whether to use this exercise for shoulder muscle recruitment. The argument is that because it is not vertical, the movement does not go against gravity like a shoulder exercise should. But change can be good for your muscles, as it promotes strength and growth, especially when muscles are targeted in a whole new movement.

RELATED: 7 Exercises That Safely Build Shoulder Strength

The Anti-Gravity Press does just that. The pressing portion does not go against gravity in the same way that people are used to. Muscle recruitment derives from the isometric-like contractions during the Press. You have to contract your muscles to hold the weight up and press it out in front of you, then pull the weight back toward your body to return to the starting position. This primarily focuses on muscle endurance and strength for the front and anterior muscle heads of your deltoids.

3. Standing Single-Arm Dumbbell Press

This is the unilateral version of the Standing Overhead Press, meaning you use only one side of your body to perform the action. The exercise works best when you use moderate to heavy loads, and strict form is vital to prevent injury and increase strength effectively. There are two primary reasons for performing this exercise: to strengthen your shoulders and core, and to increase the strength of your weaker muscles.

The Standing Single-Arm Dumbbell Press is effective for core strengthening because you have to keep your body upright while pressing the weight overhead and not allow trunk movement to either side.

To strengthen weaker muscles, use more weight on your weaker side and enough weight for muscle maintenance on your  dominant side.

RELATED: 5 Bodyweight Exercises to Strengthen Your Shoulders


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BUILD MUSCLE | SHOULDERS | EXERCISES | PRESS | POSTURE | ROTATOR CUFF | RANGE OF MOTION | SHOULDER EXERCISES | DUMBBELL PRESS