In this post I want to go over three killer shoulder workouts that you can do at home.
There are, obviously, a lot more than three shoulder workouts you could do but I want to avoid all of the smaller isolation based exercises and stick with good compound exercises which put your shoulders through a full range of movement and activate a large quantity of muscle groups at the same time.
By exercising in this way you’re going to see results faster and build a healthier body as well.
Two of these exercises only require your own bodyweight while the other two will require either a dumbbell or preferably a kettlebell.
1) The Old Fashioned Pushup
I wanted to start off with this great fundamental exercise just because it’s so easy to do anywhere and so easy to adapt to make it easier or harder based on your fitness level.
Even though the pushup primarily targets your chest it also works the front of your shoulders and uses them as one of the primary hinges throughout the movement.
The push up also has so many variations that it can easily be adapted to whatever you want to work on.
If you’re just starting out you can do them with your knees on the floor and as you grow stronger you can move to your toes.
Once you get strong enough to do them confidently, with good form, you can go in one of two major directions; either move your hands together under your body to target your triceps more or elevate your feet to focus more on your shoulders.
Since we’re talking about killer shoulder workouts here we’re going to go with option number two and elevate our feet.
To do this you can use any sturdy household item, like a chair or step ladder.
Even a pile of books could work if they’re sturdy enough.
By elevating your feet you are moving the emphasis of the pushup from your chest up to your shoulders.
The steeper the angle the more you’re going to be focusing on your shoulders.
If you already feel confident doing regular pushups then go ahead and give elevated pushups a try to really blast your shoulders.
2) One Armed Shoulder Presses
If you’re using weights then the shoulder press is the go to exercise for working your shoulder muscles.
You can use either a dumbbell or kettlebell to do this exercise and there are a few different ways to go about doing it.
I personally use a kettlebell so I start with my arm curled up to my chest with the back of my hand facing out as I grip the handle of the bell.
From here you want to press the weight up above your head with your arm fully extended and pointing straight up.
While completing this motion your hand will have rotated so the back of your hand is now facing behind you with your palm forward.
You then perform this motion in reverse to lower the weight.
This is my preferred way of doing one armed presses as the starting point of the weight is lower and the shoulder must go through a full range of motion to complete the movement which helps to build a more balanced and strong body.
This exercise is also good for working your upper back and core as well as your body must stay straight, balanced, and firm throughout the exercise.
3) Handstand Pushups
Handstand pushups are really the kings of callisthenic shoulder exercises.
Similar to the one armed shoulder press you are working directly with your shoulders to move a weight except for the handstands the weight is you!
Now, jumping into doing handstands in no laughing matter for some people but you can work your way up to it gradually.
To prepare your shoulders and body you can begin by doing something similar to an elevated pushup but with a couple of key differences.
The first is that you aren’t going to be keeping your body straight; in fact you’re going to be bending at your hips.
Go ahead and find a couch or taller bed that you can comfortably put your legs up on and then bend your upper body down towards the ground.
Use your outstretched arms to brace yourself and keep your head from hitting the floor.
Now, go ahead and press your upper body up until you’ve locked your arms out straight, then lower yourself back down till your head brushes the floor.
This is a great way to prepare for handstands and, unlike pushups, will be directly focused on your shoulders.
Once you’re comfortable doing these you can begin to move on to the full handstand pushup.
Go up to a wall and begin walking your feet up it so that your stomach is facing the wall.
Get up as high as you feel comfortable and then go ahead and try lowering yourself down using your arms until your head brushes the ground.
Then press yourself back up.
The good part about using the wall is that if you get stuck at the bottom you can use it to walk yourself back down again safely.
Eventually, with practice, you’ll feel more and more comfortable with this position and can even try doing it without the wall to brace you but I’d suggest trying it on a softer surface like grass or the beach first.
The one down side to the handstand pushup is that your head gets in the way from being able to put your shoulders through a fuller range of motion.
However, the ability to balance oneself and develop the core strength to hold a handstand are well worth investing the time to do anyway regardless of not being able to go deeper when working your shoulders.
Also, if you don’t have any weights you really can’t beat it for pumping your shoulders.
4) Turkish Get-Ups
Turkish get-ups are an amazing exercise which target a whole range of muscles throughout your body, however, most of their focus is on the shoulders.
Get ups are a different kind of exercise than what we’ve been talking about as they’re almost like a plank for your shoulders.
During a Turkish get-up you begin with lying on your back holding a weight above you in one hand and end standing up with the same weight balanced above your head.
You then proceed to lye back down again with while holding the same weight balanced over head.
During the entire exercise your arm remains straight with your elbow locked.
Only your shoulder moves in order to keep the weight balanced as you move from lying to standing to lying once more.
This exercise is incredibly therapeutic for your shoulder as well as building strength.
The reason for this is that the muscles in your rotator cup in your shoulder are engaged the entire time during this exercise.
In fact, there’s no other exercise that builds the supporting muscles in your shoulders quite like the Turkish getup.
This is incredibly important as the shoulder is one of the prime candidates for injury when you get into lifting regularly.
By doing Turkish get-ups on a regular basis you can create truly bullet proof shoulders and protect yourself from many common injuries.
The Turkish get-up is also an extremely technical exercise so I’ve attached a video below from Strong First to help you get started.
Just remember to start with a low weight first, even with just a shoe, in order to learn how to balance it and build up those supporting muscles first.
These three exercises;
- Inclined pushups
- Handstand pushups
- Turkish get ups
Are all you need to develop solid and powerful shoulders while working out at home.
Just skip all of the fluff and stick with these four core exercises to develop real strength.
Until next time; stay healthy, happy, and strong!