Get Powerful Shoulders Without Weights

A set of strong shoulders doesn't mean you have to constantly be lifting weights. Here are some great exercises to work into your routine.


Athletes and non-athletes alike can benefit from improving their shoulder strength. (Read more on the STACK Shoulders page.) From throwing a pass to simply reaching for an object overhead, the shoulder joints and surrounding deltoid muscles are constantly used throughout an active person's day. Shoulder stability is key for injury prevention as well.

Building strength in this essential muscle group doesn't require heavy weights. When you're short on time or can't make it to the gym, bodyweight shoulder exercises are an excellent choice. Perform the following workout to strengthen your shoulder muscles (rear, front and lateral deltoids) to dominate your sport. Since it also works the back, chest and arm muscles, the workout also confers additional benefits.


(Perform Perfect Push-Ups.)

Target: shoulders, chest, back, triceps and core muscles

Push-Ups are the most convenient and versatile bodyweight exercise, since they can be performed practically anywhere with several variations. Try the following:

  • To improve upper body muscular endurance, attempt as many as you can in 60 seconds
  • To isolate the triceps, inner chest and front deltoids, bring hands close together to form a triangle and do 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Next, do 2x10 with hands spaced slightly wider than shoulders to build the outer chest, front, rear and lateral deltoid muscles

For a greater challenge, perform the three push-up exercises with your feet elevated on a chair or bench. Make them into an entire workout with Two Challenging Push-Up Combo Workouts When You're Short on Time.

Inverted Rows

Target: front/rear deltoids, upper/middle back, biceps, forearms, chest and core muscles

Sets/Reps: 2x10 with overhand grip; 2x10 with underhand grip

  • Set barbell about three to four feet off floor
  • Go under the bar and take a wide overhand grip (slightly wider than shoulder-width)
  • Straighten legs and go on your heels
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together and slowly (5 seconds) pull body up toward bar until chest nearly touches bar
  • Pause one second and slowly lower (5 seconds)
  • Perform same motions using underhand grip

Arm Circles

Target: deltoids

  • Raise and extend arms laterally to shoulder level
  • Do forward arm circles for 30 seconds
  • Reverse circles for 30 seconds

Lateral Arm Raises

Target: lateral deltoids

  • Lower arms to sides and rest 10 seconds after performing arm circles
  • Raise arms again laterally at shoulder level and hold 45 seconds

Front Arm Raises

Target: rear deltoids

  • Lower arms and rest 10 seconds after performing Lateral Arm Raises
  • Raise arms in front at shoulder level and hold 45 seconds
  • Bend knees, lean slightly forward and raise extended arms laterally again while squeezing shoulder blades; hold 45 seconds

(See also Four Killer Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises.)

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