5 Best Shoulder Exercises You Can Do At Home

Give your shoulders the ultimate at-home workout with this five-exercise, eight-week routine from STACK Expert Joe DiStefano.

Too often, guys in pursuit of "bowling ball shoulders" head straight to the same old corner of the gym and do the same old shoulder exercises: Overhead Presses, Single-Joint Dumbbell work, and maybe a few external rotations with a band or cable to tie it all together.

To help you break out of that tired pattern, I've put together a five-exercise, eight-week program. It can help you restore function to your shoulders, rock your core and get a lot stronger without leaving your house.

Body Saw for Core and Scapular Function (on wood floor or carpet)

RELATED: Here's how to perform Scap Push-Ups

If you do this exercise on a hard floor, wear socks. If you do it on carpet, place your feet on furniture-mover discs.

  • Begin in a plank position.
  • Retract (slightly pinch together) your shoulder blades so your upper back is not rounded.
  • Drive your body away from your hands, maintaining the plank position. Your feet should slide 6 to 8 inches back from where they started.
  • Without relaxing, pull your body back to the start position and repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
  • Gradually push your limits, always maintaining a rigid spine and proper plank positioning.

Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs (for overall strength and core function)

RELATED: See how to perform Elevated Push-Ups (See #4 Feet Elevated Push-Ups)

  • Facing away from the stairs, drop into a push-up position with your feet on the first stair.
  • Perform a solid, rigid Push-Up with no sag in the lower back and repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
  • Gradually work your way up the stairs with your feet each set, day or week.

Handstand Against Wall (to build shoulder strength and total-body stability)

RELATED: A Complete Guide to Handstands and Handstand Push-Ups

If you've never done a handstand in your life—or if it's been awhile—gain some confidence by starting in a simple "baby crawl" position: face away from the wall and "climb" your feet up the wall, driving all your weight into your hands. Walk up as high as possible to get the feel of a handstand and gain some stability. Once you graduate from that, begin in a standing position facing the wall, about three feet away from it. With somebody standing nearby for assistance, put your hands on the floor and in one motion attempt to whip your legs up to the wall, catching yourself with one foot, then straightening yourself out. Your partner should help you achieve the final position and spot you throughout each rep.

Forward Bear Crawl Down Stairs (for eccentric shoulder strength, stability, core function, athleticism)

  • Begin at the top of the stairs.
  • Place both hands on the first step and in an opposite arm-and-leg pattern, step with your right foot and reach to the first step with your left hand.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, reaching to the second step. (It may take up to six or seven steps for both your hands and feet to be on the stairs.)
  • Move slowly and ensure you are working your way down one step at a time with both your hands and feet. At the bottom of the stairs, your hands will continue on flat ground while your feet finish out the remaining steps.
  • Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Reverse Bear Crawl Up Stairs (for concentric and isometric shoulder strength, shoulder stability, core function, athleticism)

  • Begin at the bottom of the stairs, face down with your head facing away from the steps.
  • Place both feet on the first step, and in an opposite arm-and-leg pattern, step toward the stairs with your right hand and reach your left foot onto the second step.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, reaching to the third step.
  • Move slowly and ensure you are working your way up one step at a time with both your hands and feet. Once your feet reach the top of the stairs, continue on flat ground as your hands finish out the remaining steps.
  • Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Do this program three days per week, performing Sets/Reps as shown (e.g., 2x3). On alternate days, perform Deadlifts, Pull-Ups, Carries and Squats.

Week 1

  • Body Saw: 2x3 
  • Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs: 2x6 
  • Bear Crawl on flat ground: 4x20-second holds 

Week 2

  • Body Saw: 3x8 
  • Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs: 3x8 
  • Bear Crawl on flat ground: 4x20-second holds, then walk 20 feet
  • Handstand Against Wall: Achieve position (with assistance), hold for 2 seconds, drop (with assistance) 2x3 

Week 3

  • Body Saw: 3x8 
  • Elevated Push Up-Off Stairs: 3x8 
  • Bear Crawl on flat ground: 3x30-second holds, then walk 30 feet 
  • Handstand Against Wall: Achieve position (with assistance), hold for 5 seconds, drop, 3x3

Week 4

  • Body Saw: 3x8 
  • Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs: 3x8 
  • Bear Crawl on flat ground: 3x60-second holds, then walk 30 feet 
  • Handstand Against Wall: Achieve position (with assistance), hold for 10 seconds, drop, 3x5 
  • Bear Crawl Down Stairs: 4x1 trip

Week 5

  • Body Saw: 2x12 
  • Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs: 2x2 
  • Handstand Against Wall: Achieve position, hold for 10 seconds, drop, 3x5 
  • Bear Crawl Down Stairs: 4x3 trips 
  • Reverse Bear Crawl Up Stairs: 1x1 trip 

Week 6

  • Body Saw: 2x12 
  • Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs: 2x12 
  • Handstand Against Wall: Achieve position, hold for 20 seconds, drop, 3x5 
  • Bear Crawl Down Stairs + Reverse Bear Crawl Up Stairs: 2x1 round trip
  • Bear Crawl Down Stairs: 3x3 trips

Week 7

  • Body Saw: 2x12 
  • Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs: 2x12 
  • Handstand Against Wall: Achieve position, hold for 30 seconds, drop, 3x3 
  • Bear Crawl Down Stairs + Reverse Bear Crawl Up Stairs: 4x1 round trip
  • Bear Crawl Down Stairs: 3x3 trips

Week 8

  • Body Saw: 2x12 
  • Elevated Push-Up Off Stairs: 2x12 
  • Handstand Against Wall: Achieve position, hold for as long as possible, drop, 3x 
  • Bear Crawl Down Stairs + Reverse Bear Crawl Up Stairs:  4x2 round trips 

Read more:


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: AT-HOME WORKOUT | SHOULDERS | EXERCISE | FIRST STEP | STAIRS | SHOULDER EXERCISES