12 Best Incredible Dumbbell Exercises for Shoulder

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Dumbbell exercises for shoulders

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There are lots of amazing dumbbell exercises for shoulders which is so effective that you will not need anything else than dumbbells.

After reading this whole blog, you will be able to perform a variety of different dumbbell exercises for shoulders which will increase your strength, size, and width of the shoulders and will give you that wide upper body structure.

Many of these exercises you can do at home with dumbbells so read it closely. In the end, you will find one dumbbell shoulder workout which you must include in your workout program.

I know you are excited, so let’s look at the list of the exercises below.

Dumbbell Exercises for Shoulders

Some of the best dumbbell shoulder exercises are dumbbell shoulder press, side lateral raises, dumbbell upright rows, and front raises. Let’s discuss some more exercises here!

1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This is one of the best exercises to target the entire shoulder muscles. This is a compound movement that is good for building strength and size. It also engages your core more if done while standing.

The study conducted by ACE showed that the dumbbell shoulder press was one of the best exercises to target the anterior/ front part of the deltoid. So you must definitely add this into your shoulder workout program.

Targeted Muscles- All the three head of shoulders

How to do

1. Pick two dumbbells and sit on a bench with your head and back supported on a bench. Your dumbbells should be on your thighs.

2. Lift each dumbbell up using your thighs to bounce it up. Your palm should face forward and dumbbells should be at the shoulders height.

3. From this position, lift both the dumbbells up and focus on the contraction you feel on your shoulders.

4. Squeeze your shoulders at the top and then slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Before lifting, make sure that your wrist is in line with the elbows and not forward. Your arms should go back like an arch as you go up rather than going in front.

Your core should be tight and your neck should be tucked in. Don’t bend your lower back during the movement.

2. Arnold Press

This is another great exercise to train the entire shoulder. You can do this as a prime compound exercise to add size to your shoulders.

Targeted muscles- Anterior, mid, and posterior head of the deltoid.

How to do

1. Grab two dumbbells and sit down on a bench, or a flat chair if you are at home.

2. Raise your hands to the shoulders height with your palm facing towards you. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start the exercise by pushing the dumbbells up and rotate as you move up.

4. Pause at the top when your elbows are almost extended.

5. Squeeze your shoulders at the top and come back to the starting position the same way you went up.

It’s very important to add some variations to your workout program to get continuous results without hitting a plateau. This exercise is a variation of a dumbbell shoulder press and the rotational movement creates a different stimulus to your muscles and joints.

3. One Arm Dumbbell Press

Another great exercise for your shoulders! The single-arm overhead press will not only hit your overall shoulders but will also engage abs and other core muscles to stabilize your body during the movement. Therefore you are using a lot more muscles with a single exercise which is a plus!

Targeted muscles- All the 3 heads of shoulders

How to do

1. Grab a dumbbell with one hand and take it up, just above the Shoulders. Keep your neck and back straight. This will be your starting position.

2. Lift the dumbbell with the help of your shoulders without bending your back. Make sure to engage your core throughout the movement.

3. Stop until the dumbbell is at the top and come back slowly down to the starting position.

4. Do the same with the other hand and that completes one whole set.

You can also do this exercise at home. You can use heavyweights on this but make sure that you don’t bend your lower back too much and always engage your core during the movement.

These one-hand shoulder exercises are great for training each side separately which will help in creating a symmetrical look and equal strength in each shoulder.

4. Incline Dumbbell Front Raises

If you haven’t tried this exercise then you must try it out. This can be a great alternative to the regular front raises. Here, an incline version allows you to focus more on the shoulders as you cannot use too much momentum during the movement.

Targeted muscle- Anterior and mid deltoids

How to do

1. Grab two dumbbells and lay down on an incline bench with your chest on the bench.

2. Raise your hands straight up till the arms have reached up to your ears. Try to raise it with your thumbs up.

3. Hold the top position for 1 second and then slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.

Important tips

  • Don’t use heavy weights. You don’t have to go heavy on this. Light weights are best with this exercise because it will create a better mind and muscle connection.
  • If you are at home then do it while sitting with your back forward. Don’t round your back and do the same exact movement properly.
  • You can also perform the same exercise in a reverse position with your back on a bench but it’s not recommended for beginners.

5. Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises

This is a popular exercise done to strengthen the front delts. You can see many people in the gym doing this exercise as it directly targets your front shoulder muscles. Also, it is an easy exercise to do so even beginners can do it.

Targeted muscles- anterior deltoid

how to do

1. Hold two dumbbells on both hands and stand straight. Your thumb should face forward. This will be your starting position.

2. Lift the dumbbell from one hand while keeping your elbows slightly bent and bring it towards eye level.

3. Pause at the top for a second and squeeze your shoulders at the top.

4. Then return slowly to the starting position and then do the same movement with the other hand.

You can do this exercise at home. Make sure to not use a lot of momentum or jerk during the motion. You can also do this with your knuckles facing forward.

6. Dumbbell Front Lateral Raise

This is a great exercise to target both your front and side shoulders which makes it a perfect combination of exercise.

Targeted muscles- Front and mid deltoids

How to do

1. Pick two light dumbbells and stand straight while keeping your hands to the sides.

2.Raise both arms to the front with a slight bend in the elbow and stop until it reaches shoulder level.

3. From that position, move your arms sideways to target the side head and then slowly return to the starting position.

4. Do the same movement in a reverse order ( starting with the side raise).

Keep in mind that it will be a challenging exercise so choose light dumbbells in the beginning. As you get used to the movement, you can start using heavier weights

7. Seated Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises

This is one of the common and most effective exercises for your rear delts. You can find most people doing this movement to train their posterior deltoids because the angle and body positioning is perfect to hit those shoulders of your back.

There was one study conducted by ACE which shows that seated rear lateral raise hits the rear delts the most out of many other exercises.

How to do

1 Sit on the edge of the bench and bend down while keeping your back flat.

2. Pick both the dumbbells and keep your neck straight.

3. Move the dumbbells up to the side with a slight bend in the elbow. You should feel the tension on the rear delts at the top.

4. Pause at the top when your arms are parallel to the ground.

5. Return back to the starting position and repeat the movement.

You don’t have to go heavy on this exercise. Swinging the weights will not give you the results. You should feel the muscles throughout the range of motion.

There are more amazing dumbbell shoulder exercises to cover, so keep reading!

8. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

This exercise will strengthen your rear delts and will give you that wide look from the back. You can go heavy on this but make sure that you can engage rear delts even with heavier loads.

Targeted muscles- Rear delts ( back shoulder)

How to do

1. Hold two dumbbells and stand on the floor with both feet at about hip-width apart.

2. Now bend down by taking your hips back without rounding your back. Keep your torso parallel to the floor and this will be your starting position

3. Lift the dumbbells by bending the elbows. Your wrist should be under the elbow. Make sure that you are forming a T shape.

4. Pause at the top when your arms are parallel to the ground and then slowly return to the starting position.

The difference between rear delt rows and dumbbell raises is that your elbows will be bent and will be at a 90° angle when you are rowing. And in dumbbell raises you are just slightly bending the elbow and raising your hands.

9. Dumbbell Lateral Raises

This is one of the traditional exercises for your side deltoid. Almost all lifters might have done this exercise. If you are beginner who want to specifically target your lateral delts, then this exercise is for you.

Targeted muscles – Mid deltoid

How to do

1. Hold the dumbbells on your hands and stand with both feet at shoulder’s width. You can also do this exercise while sitting.

2. Lift both the dumbbells to each side of the body and stop until your arms are parallel to the ground.

3. Come back slowly while maintaining the tension on the shoulders.

Make sure that your wrists are in line with the elbow or slightly up. It should not go too far up. You can also do this with one hand at a time to focus on each side separately.

10. Leaning Away Lateral Raises

This is another way of doing lateral raises. By leaning forward, the exercise becomes harder at the top. You can use it as a substitute for lateral raise.

Targeted muscles- Mid and poterior head of the shoulders

How to do

1. Hold one dumbbell in one hand and stand with the other hand on a pillar for support.

2. Now lean away towards the side and the dumbbell should be at the lateral side of the thigh. This will be your starting position.

3. Raise the dumbbell to the side while breathing out and stop at the top such that your hands are parallel to the ground.

4. Hold that position for 1 second at the top and then gently come back down while breathing in.

Keep in mind that your elbow should be in line with the wrist or slightly up. As you get advanced, you can take your hands back and do the same movement.

11. Overhead Dumbbell Lateral Raise

If you want to increase the range of motion of your shoulders, then I would recommend you do this exercise. If your shoulders are less moble, then doing this will slowly improve your mobility.

Targeted muscles- Mid and anterior deltoids

How to do

1. Pick two light dumbbells and stand straight. The Dumbbells should be at the side of the thighs.

2. Raise both the dumbbells up to the side and rotate the wrist when your arms are parallel to the ground. Your palm should face up.

3. Then continue to go up with a slight bend in the elbow and touch both dumbbells at the top.

4. Bring your arms back down slowly the same way you went up.

Always breathe out as you go up and breathe in on the way down in every exercise you do for shoulders.

This is a great exercise to improve mobility and is a type of corrective exercise for your shoulders. You should do at least 2 reps on this.

This is not an exercise where you lift heavy dumbbells. You must choose light dumbbells at the beginning and gradually increase the load.

12. Incline Rear Delt Flys

This is another great way of using the dumbbells to train your rear delts. For this, you will need an incline bench and a pair of dumbbells. Add this into your workout routine and enjoy the benefits.

Targeted muscles- Posterior deltoids

How to do

1. Pick two dumbbells and lay on an incline bench with your chest on the bench. your feet should be on the ground for balance.

2. Start the exercise by raising the dumbbells with a slight bend at the elbow.

3. Go straight to the sides and stop when your hands are parallel to the ground. Make sure to squeeze your rear delts at the top.

4. Hold the top position for 1 second and come back down slowly.

You don’t have to use heavy dumbbells for this exercise. Don’t raise your back or shrug during the movement. You have to focus on the rear delts and not the back.

Shoulder Workout With Dumbbells

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This dumbbell shoulder workout will make your shoulders round and strong, so introduce this into your workout program. You can also do this shoulder workout at home if you have dumbbells.

I have explained in detail about each exercise so if you have any doubts regarding any exercise, you can scroll up for more information. So let’s begin with the workout!

Warm-Up:- Start by warming up your shoulder muscles by lateral raises – 2 sets of 15 reps with lightweight dumbbells.

ExerciseRepsSetsRest
1Dumbbell Shoulder Press842 minutes
2Arnold Press12390 seconds
3Leaning Away Lateral Raises12360 seconds
4Seated Dumbbell Rear Delt Flys15 each345 seconds

It is always recommended to consult with the physician or other health care professionals before starting the exercise.

Final Words

So these were some amazing shoulder exercises with dumbbells. All these amazing exercises will help you to increase the strength and size of your shoulder. You can try the shoulder workout which I shared with you before and can start working on your shoulders right away.

If you found this article helpful, then please share it with your friends and family. Also if you want me to make an article on any other related topics, then please share it with me in the comment section below.

ALSO READ-

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  3. Top 8 Amazing Tricep Exercises with dumbbells
  4. 12 Best back exercises with dumbbells + Back workout


Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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