Strengthen Your Shoulders with These 7 Exercises

To avoid injuring yourself, start out with low resistance in weight training. When using hand weights, you can gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
Strengthen Your Shoulders with These 7 Exercises
Carlos Fabián Avila

Reviewed and approved by Doctor Carlos Fabián Avila.

Last update: 30 May, 2022

If you don’t exercise your shoulders, they’ll remain small as compared with your arms and chest, which may then look disproportionately large. In order to prevent this from happening, you can strengthen your shoulders with special exercises to get the muscles of that part of your body strong and toned.

As far as looks and the shape of the body goes, the shoulders are an important part because they’re the base of the muscles of the arms and chest and maintain the balance between the two.

Below we show you seven exercises that you can try in order to strengthen your shoulders.

Seven Exercises to Strengthen Your Shoulders

1. External Rotation

There are specific band workouts to strengthen your shoulders.

To start, you’ll need to buy a rubber exercise band so that you can perform a variety of different exercises to strengthen your shoulders.

  • First, hook the band around a bar or solid piece of furniture, where it’s at the same height as that of your elbows.
  • Then stand next to it and reach across your body with your opposite hand to grasp the band, holding it tense in front of you.
  • Following that, flex your elbow to 90 degrees while keeping your arm tightly against your side, as though you were holding a pencil in your armpit.
  • Rotate away from the band slightly, with a short movement.
  • Do three sets of 15 repetitions on each side.

2. Shoulder Raises with Closure

hand weights

This exercise to strengthen your shoulders specifically requires hand weights so that it’s easy to increase the intensity level.
  • First, perform the traditional shoulder raise. When your arm is both outstretched and level with your nose, bend your elbow so that the hand weight is in front of your eyes.
  • Then open your arm and lower it to your side.
  • Try starting out with a few pounds per hand weight.
  • Do three sets of 15 repetitions on each side.

3. Shoulders of Steel

  • First, sit in a chair and hook the elastic band under your feet.
  • Then, holding the band at your knees, stretch your arms above your head.
  • Following that, lower them to the height of your shoulders.
  • Do this exercise 10 times with slow movements.

4. Neck Rows


The advantage of this exercise is that the weight is always near your torso, thus helping to maintain good posture and prevent putting excessive strain on your back.

  • First, standing upright, hold a dumbbell in each hand and tilt your head up, while stretching out your arms in front of you.
  • Then raise your arms to your neck by bending your elbows and bringing your hands in sideways.
  • Following that, lower slowly.
  • Perform three sets of 15 repetitions each.

5. Loose Abdomen

  • First, lie face down and stretch out your right arm.
  • Then take a hand weight or dumbbell and raise and lower this arm repeatedly, bending the elbow a little for momentum.
  • Try doing three sets of 15 repetitions per arm.

6. Barbell Shrugs

weight training

This exercise requires greater resistance. Try using a weight bar with a few pounds added to it.

  • First, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, your palms facing your thighs.
  • Your hands should be slightly farther apart than your shoulders.
  • Then raise the bar and rest it on your shoulders, behind your neck.
  • Following that, shrug your shoulders to raise them as much as possible, and hold the weight for a few seconds.

7. Front Raise Dumbbell

  • First, take a pair of dumbbells of equal weight, one in each hand.
  • Then stand straight with the dumbbells in front of your thighs and your arms outstretched.
  • While keeping your torso still, lift the left dumbbell forward with a slight bend at the elbow and palm facing down.
  • Raise your arm so that it’s higher than being parallel to the floor, and exhale while taking a slight pause at the top of the movement.
  • Following that, lower the dumbbell in one smooth motion in order to return to the starting position.
  • Raise your right arm to do the same exercise.
  • Do this exercise 10 times with each arm.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kim MK, Lee JC, Yoo KT. The effects of shoulder stabilization exercises and pectoralis minor stretching on balance and maximal shoulder muscle strength of healthy young adults with round shoulder posture. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018;30(3):373-380. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.373.
  • Charbonnier C, Lädermann A, Kevelham B, Chagué S, Hoffmeyer P, Holzer N. Shoulder strengthening exercises adapted to specific shoulder pathologies can be selected using new simulation techniques: a pilot study. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2018 Feb;13(2):321-330. doi: 10.1007/s11548-017-1668-4. Epub 2017 Sep 14. PMID: 28913728.
  • Camargo PR, Alburquerque-Sendín F, Avila MA, Haik MN, Vieira A, Salvini TF. Effects of Stretching and Strengthening Exercises, With and Without Manual Therapy, on Scapular Kinematics, Function, and Pain in Individuals With Shoulder Impingement: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Dec;45(12):984-97. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2015.5939. Epub 2015 Oct 15. PMID: 26471852.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.