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Shoulder Exercises

The following exercises show examples of moves targeting the shoulders - the front, middle and rear deltoids as well as the rotator cuff muscles.  Choose a variety of exercises to target each part of the shoulders for a well-rounded routine.   Click on the pictures and links to view detailed instructions or to see a larger picture.  To work these exercises into a routine:  

  • Beginners:  Choose 1-2 exercises, 1-2 sets of 12-16 reps
  • Inter/Adv:  Choose an exercise from each column for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, resting between sets
  • UUse enough weight that you can ONLY complete the desired number of reps
Overhead Presses
Overhead presses work the major muscles of the shoulder, with a focus on the middle deltoid and tricep.  To do a basic overhead press, stand (or sit) holding weights with elbows bent and hands at eye level.  Push weight over head without arching the back and lower back to start.
Front, Side and Rear Raises
Front, side and rear raises target each part of of the shoulders as well as the upper back.  When doing shoulder raises, only lift the weight up to shoulder level.  When doing rear flies,  lead with the side of the hand and imagine you're making a smiley face as you lift the arms up.
Rotations/Upright Rows
Shoulder rotations work the rotator cuff and usually require smaller range of motion and light weight to avoid injury.  Upright rows work the middle deltoid as well as the upper back and bicep muscles.  If you have shoulder problems, you may want to avoid these exercises.
Overhead Press
Front Raise
External Rotation
Overhead Press with Dumbbells
Lateral Raise
Internal Rotation
Arnold Press
Rear Lateral Raise
Upright Rows
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Related Video
Weight Lifting Exercises for Back and Shoulders
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