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Best Muscle Building Exercises for Shoulders

Best Muscle Building Exercises for Shoulders

Best Muscle Building Exercises for Shoulders

Achieving those big and round delts is not an easy task. You can’t just walk into the gym, do several push-ups, lift some weights, and you walk out having the enviable shoulders of “The Rock”. We bet you’re now looking for the best muscle building exercises for shoulders.

With the right type of exercises and plenty of determination and discipline, achieving strong and perfect shoulders are absolutely possible. However, let’s firstly discuss the benefits of having strong and broad shoulders.

Importance of Shoulder Muscle Building Exercises

Building strong shoulder muscles is vital for several reasons:

Improved Upper Body Strength

Strong shoulders are crucial for performing various upper body exercises and daily activities. For instance, carrying groceries, lifting your children, or moving furniture becomes significantly easier when you have well-developed shoulder muscles. In sports like basketball or tennis, powerful shoulder muscles enhance your ability to shoot, pass, or serve, improving your overall performance.

Improved Posture

Strengthening the shoulder muscles, particularly the rear deltoids and traps, helps maintain good posture by pulling the shoulders back and aligning the spine correctly. Good posture is essential for reducing the risk of chronic back and neck pain. For example, office workers who sit for long periods can benefit from strong shoulder muscles to counteract the forward hunch often developed from desk work.

Injury Prevention

Well-developed shoulder muscles provide stability and support to the shoulder joint, reducing the risk of injuries such as dislocations and strains. Balanced shoulder training ensures that all parts of the deltoids are strengthened, preventing muscle imbalances that can lead to injuries. Athletes, such as swimmers or baseball players, who frequently use their shoulders in repetitive motions, can significantly reduce their risk of injury with strong, balanced shoulder muscles.

Athletic Performance

Strong shoulders contribute to better performance in various sports and physical activities. For example, in weightlifting, strong shoulders are essential for lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk. In martial arts, powerful shoulder muscles can enhance your punching and grappling techniques, giving you a competitive edge.

Aesthetic Appeal

Well-developed shoulders add to the overall symmetry and aesthetics of your physique. Broad, muscular shoulders create a V-tapered appearance, which is often desired in bodybuilding and fitness circles. This can boost your confidence and make you feel better about your appearance, whether you’re on the beach or in the boardroom.

That’s it! Now that you know how beneficial well-developed shoulder muscles can be, below are some of the shoulder exercises that you should start learning by heart.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

dumbbell lateral raise
Screenshot from ScottHermanFitness

This exercise will help you get strong muscle mass and shoulders. Even a beginner can do this and you only need a dumbbell for your equipment.


  • Start in a standing position with both of your feet shoulder-width apart, abs kept tight and each of your hands is holding a dumbbell with your palms facing your body.
  • Bend your knees slightly and raise your arms at your sides slowly until both of your palms are facing the floor.
  • Once dumbbells are just above shoulder level, pause for a few seconds, then slowly lower your weights back to the starting position.
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Seated Overhead Press

Screenshot from Buff Dudes Workouts

If you want to build strong shoulders but also develop your arms, chest, and the rest of your body, then the overhead press is the perfect exercise for you. You would need dumbbells for this exercise.


  • Start on a sitting position. Make sure that your back is supported so that your butt, shoulders, and head are making contact with the bench. With both of the feet firmly planted on the ground, slowly raise the dumbbells until they reach your shoulder level.
  • Exhale and place the dumbbells over your shoulders, making sure that your biceps are in level with your ears and your arms straight.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells and return to the original position.

Face Pull

Screenshot from Omarlsuf

Some shoulder exercises neglect the posterior deltoids of the shoulder, but not face pulls. This upper body strength exercise does not just build overall shoulder strength but it also prevents muscular imbalance. You would need a cable pulley machine to be able to do this exercise.


  • Set up the cable machine first with a double-rope attached and fixed to a high pulley.
  • Hold the handle with both palms facing the floor and arms fully extending out in your front.
  • Slowly pull the handles towards you with upper arms kept parallel to the floor.
  • While keeping the tension in the cable, slowly return to the starting position.

Barbell Rear Delt Row

Screenshot from My PT Hub

Also known as Elbows Out Barbell Row, Barbell Rear Delt Row is a beginner level exercise that targets shoulders, traps, biceps, and back. As the name implies, you would need a barbell in this exercise.


  • Place a barbell in front of your legs. Bend over slightly with your glutes extending out.
  • Grab the barbel and slowly lift it so that the bars are resting around your shins.
  • Pull the barbell up towards your chest while the rest of your body is kept still.
  • Tightly squeeze your deltoids and back as you reach your chest.
  • Hold on this position for a few seconds.
  • Slowly return back to the starting position.
  • Do as many repetitions as you need.

Arnold Press

Screenshot from Buff Dudes

You guessed it right. This exercise is named after Arnold Schwarzenegger who revolutionized bodybuilding before he became a big movie actor.

This workout targets the medial head and posterior head. Medial head adds width and thickness to your shoulders while the latter improves posture and stabilizes the shoulder joint. You would need dumbbells for this exercise.


  • Start in a sitting position, make sure that your back is supported. Hold dumbbells in each of your hands, keeping them in the level of your upper chest.
  • Slowly raise the dumbbells as you are rotating the palms of your hands until they face forward.
  • Continue raising the dumbbells until your arms are straight above your head.
  • Exhale and pause for a few seconds.
  • Slowly rotate the palms of your hands towards you as you lower the dumbbells back to their original position.
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Incline Barbell Bench Press

Screenshot from ScottHermanFitness

The bench press is quite a favorite in strength and fitness programs because it helps build muscle mass and upper body strength, and increases your overall sports performance. If you want to add more muscle mass to your upper body, increase your shoulder strength, and develop your upper pectoral muscles, then you should start doing the incline bench press. Equipment needed is a barbell.


  • Load the bar according to your desired weight.
  • With your feet both planted firmly on the ground, lie down on the bench and drive through to your hips. Arch your back and retract your shoulder blades.
  • Start by slowly holding the weight above your chest. Your arms should be kept extended.
  • Flex your elbows and lower the bar to the sternum. Slightly draw your elbow in and tighten your lats.
  • Once the bar has touched your torso, slowly extend your elbows, and return the bar to your original position.

Cable Reverse Fly

Screenshot from Colossus Fitness

Though the cable reverse fly mainly targets your middle back, it also targets your shoulders and chest. Performing this exercise also strengthens your rear deltoids. The rear deltoids are not only a major component of good posture, but they also increase shoulder stability. You would need a cable machine for this exercise.


  • Position two cables at chest height and attach a stirrup handle to each cable.
  • Standing between both cables, grab the left cable with your right hand and while your left hand is grabbing the right cable.
  • With both arms crossed over your chest, stand in the middle of the two pulleys. Straighten your back and both feet should be shoulder width apart.
  • Slowly uncross your arms until both of them are parallel to the ground.
  • Reverse the movement back to the original position.
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Try incorporating a few or all of these shoulder exercises in your workout session. Who knows, next time you look at yourself in the mirror, a guy with a well-defined and structured shoulder is looking back at you.


Hyde, P. (2017). 10 Best Muscle-Building Shoulder Exercises!. Retrieved from

Berg, M. (2019). 10 Best Shoulder Exercises. Retrieved from

Lockridge, R. (n.d.). 10 Best Shoulder Building Exercises of All Time. Retrieved from

Harris, A. (n.d.). The 8 Best Shoulder Exercises. Retrieved from

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