Home Shoulder Workout | The Best Shoulder-Building Exercises To Do At Home

Your shoulders are a key muscle, especially speaking aesthetically. Developed shoulders will help you to achieve that desired V taper which many men are sought after. Working your shoulders from home may seem tougher than other body parts, but there are plenty of exercises to really blow up your shoulders!

These exercises can be performed by both men and women. Don’t be afraid to work your muscles; women naturally have less testosterone than men, so you won’t end up looking ‘manly’ unless you end up taking steroids.


Shoulder Anatomy


The muscles of the shoulder span from the torso, to your neck and upper arms. The extrinsic (visible) muscles of the shoulder are split into two main parts; deltoids and rotator cuffs.

The Deltoids consists of 3 parts/heads:deltoid

1) The Anterior Deltoid

2) The Lateral Deltoid

3) The Posterior Deltoid

Whilst all 3 heads share the same insertion, they have different origin points.

Your anterior deltoid is what gives you that full shoulder look, from the front. The lateral deltoid gives you a wider, broader look. Your posterior deltoids help to give your shoulders that full ‘3D’ look!

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons at the back of your shoulder which provides stability, and allows your shoulder to rotate. It is very easy to injure, therefore it is vital that you warm up properly beforehand!


Warm Up


Warming up doesn’t take long, but can help you prevent injury and will ensure that you can exercise as effectively and efficiently as you possibly can.

  • Cardio

Performing 5-10 minutes of low intensity cardio is a great way to warm up your body before a workout. It gets your blood pumping, and prepares your muscles to be worked. You can go for a brisk walk, jog, run on the spot or even perform exercises like jumping jacks.

  • Windmills

These are an excellent way to warm up your shoulders. Begin by standing with your arms out straight, parallel to the ground. Slowly begin to rotate them in a small arc, gradually increasing the size. Perform this for around 30 seconds, then start over and rotate the other way.

  • Shoulder Dislocations

Don’t be put off by the name; these are great for warming up and increasing flexibility in your shoulders. Begin by standing with a long stick, pole, cord, bungee etc. in front of you, with your hands placed out wide at either end. Bring the stick (or whatever you are using) over your head and behind your body, without bending your elbows.

If your shoulders are too tight you may want to take a wider grip; over time you will be able to narrow your grip as you become more flexible.


Shoulder Bodyweight Circuit

Most people don’t have any gym equipment at home; therefore they rely solely on bodyweight exercises when looking to get a good workout in away from the gym.

The best way to perform body-weight exercises is as a part of a circuit, so that you get your heart rate going, and burn fat as well as targeting a specific muscle group. The following exercises are more advanced movements but really hit the shoulders. Feel free to skip them if needed – if you’re not comfortable performing these try and follow the handstand progression training!


  • Handstand Push Ups

Get into a handstand position with the aid of a wall.

With your legs straight, and your feet resting on the well, begin to bend your elbows, dipping down so your head is just above the ground, then push back up.


  • Pike Push Ups

Similar to the handstand variant, however a little simpler if you aren’t comfortable getting into position.

Rest your legs on a table, chair or other elevated surface, and repeat the same motion.


  • Push Back Push Ups

Get into a regular push up position and lower yourself to the ground.

Rather than pushing upwards as you would normally do, push backwards, thrusting your body back and working your shoulders. Return back to the push up position and repeat.

You could also incorporate a burpee between reps to make this more difficult, and really get your heart racing.

Perform these exercises as a part of a circuit, sticking to a rep range between 10-20 reps. Repeat each exercise one after the other without resting if you can, but it is fine if you need to take a few seconds rest the first few times you do this workout. You can repeat the circuit several times depending on your current level of fitness. As you get stronger and fitter, increase the reps and increase number of circuits you do.


Dumbbell Workout

A lot of us do have a pair of dumbbells lying around the house; these are an extremely versatile piece of equipment which can be used to work multiple muscle groups. If you do have a pair, or even a single dumbbell, you can really get in a great home shoulder workout.

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Probably my favourite shoulder exercise of the lot. Lateral raises really work your lateral (middle) deltoids to give you that broad look, with the illusion of a small waist. Start by holding the pair of dumbbells by your side and raise them with your arms mostly straight (a slight bend in the elbows) until they reach about parallel to the ground, lower them and repeat. Ensure the motion is controlled and you aren’t using momentum to move the weight, and you will feel a great stretch in your shoulders.

Recommended: 3 sets of 12 reps

  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press/Arnold Press

There are two variations here. You can either start with supinated (palm facing out) grip, with the dumbbells resting on your shoulders, pressing upwards or a pronated grip. With the latter, you push and twist so the starting position is the same as in the first instance. It is a matter of preference as to which you opt to do; some choose to do both, one or the other.

Recommended: 4 sets of 8 reps

  • Dumbbell Upright Rows

Typically performed with a barbell, but can be done with a pair of dumbbells too. Hold the dumbbels out in front of you, just inside shoulder width resting on your thighs. In a controlled motion, drag the dumbbells up across your torso, flaring your elbows at the sides, and lower.

Recommended: 3 sets of 12 reps

Perform these exercises one after the other, completing all the reps and sets for each exercise before you begin the next. You could also switch it up and include these in a circuit, or change up the reps/sets.


Take Home Message


There are lots of different ways to work your shoulders, be it with your bodyweight alone or a pair of dumbbells.

If you’re serious about your training, I’d recommend investing in a pair of dumbbells if you are looking to workout from home, since you can perform a vast variety of exercises to really grow your shoulders!

Lauren Dawes

Lauren Dawes

Writer and expert

Lauren is an English Literature graduate originally from the South. She’s always loved swimming, has discovered the power of weight training over the past few years, and has lots of room for improvement in her weekly hot yoga class. On the weekends she’s usually cooking or eating some kind of brunch, and she enjoys trying out new recipes with her housemates – especially since shaking off student habits, like mainly surviving off pasta. Above all, she’s a firm believer in keeping a balance between the gym and gin. Find out more about Lauren’s experience here: