Here Are Some Of The Best Shoulder Exercises For Mass, Definition And Strength

Shoulders are one of those muscle groups that can make or break a truly impressive physique — alright, maybe they aren’t that crucial and maybe even after doing the best shoulder exercises in the world, you might not have an amazing physique, but having broad and well defined shoulders will definitely not hurt.

Best Shoulder Exercises

What I am finding, is that more and more have shoulder injuries. I really don’t think that this is due to weak muscles either. There are many movements we do that we probably shouldn’t be doing. So, before I get to my favorite shoulder exercises, I like to do the following workout.

The Shoulder Exercises I Do Before My Shoulder Exercises

Whether you’ve got bad shoulders like me or not, I strongly suggest you warm up with this routine or one similar prior to doing your shoulder workout. This routine is actually a rotator cuff workout designed to tighten your shoulder and protect it from injury. My fitness teacher/football coach introduced this to me back in high school because I was constantly dislocating my shoulder not only during football practice, but even in a few basketball games – not a pleasant feeling!

Important: This is not a test of your manliness. Do all of these exercises with no more than a 5lb dumbbell or weight plate in each hand.

  • Lying Internal Rotation (abduction)
    Lying on your left side whether on a bench or the floor, hold a dumbbell in your left hand and with your elbow bent at a 90º angle. Rotate your arm so as to pull the weight towards your stomach while your upper arm stays locked in at your side — View example
  • Lying External Rotation (adduction)
    Much like the internal rotation only you will start out lying on your left side with the dumbbell in your right hand. Since this is an adduction movement, you will rotate your arm so that you lift the dumbbell away from your midsection instead of towards it.
  • Front Shoulder Raises
    Starting with your arms straight and to your side, lift your arms straight out in front of you while keeping your palms down and arms straight.
  • Lateral Shoulder Raises
    Starting with your arms at your side and your palms facing in, extend your arms out to the side and stop at shoulder height. For a little extra, as you are lifting rotate the outside of your hand upward as if you were Ceaser about to give a thumbs down at the Arena.
  • Rear Shoulder Raises
    Again, with your arms straight and at your sides with your palms facing in, lift your arms straight back while rotating your palms so that they end up facing down at the top of the movement.

Note: All of these movements require strict form. Never swing your arms and really try to get a good contraction at the top of every movement. Each exercise should be done for only 10 reps per arm.

Best Shoulder Exercise For Mass

Barbell Military Press
Definitely an exercise in a league of it’s own when it comes to your shoulders. This one probably seems like the most obvious of the bunch, but that is because it really is one of the best shoulder exercises you can do.

With a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, press the barbell from your upper chest straight above your head and stop just shy of locking your elbows. Slowly return back to your upper chest but do not “set” the bar on your chest or rest there.

Best Shoulder Exercise For Definition

Arnold Press
Another well known exercise is the Arnold Press. What I like most about this movement is that it targets the front and side of your delts, giving your shoulders nice definition.

With your palms towards your face and holding onto a set of dumbbelss, press upward while simultaneously rotating the dumbbells 180º. When you start your pinkies would be touching (if it weren’t for the dumbbells) and when you end your index fingers would be touching over your head. Slowly return back to starting position.

Best Shoulder Exercise For Strength

Handstand Shoulder Press
Yes, I’ve saved the best for last! Unlike the rotator cuff routine, this is to test your manliness. I wish I could say I had the strength and balance to do this free-standing, but I cannot – at least not yet.

Start out doing a handstand with the heels of your feet on a wall — I suggest taking off your shoes but still wearing socks so that you can slide your heels up and down the wall. One way that I am working my way towards not needing the wall is that I try not to use it the whole time I’m doing the exercise – only when I need to.

“Simply” press so that your arms are almost locked, but not quite, and then slowly lower yourself back down until your head barely touches the floor — try not to rest there!

Note: I highly recommend that you find the exercises that work best for you and do not hurt your shoulders. We all have a slightly different range of motion and that will allow some to do exercises without putting a ton of stress on their shoulders while someone else couldn’t.