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10 Effective Shoulder Exercises With Dumbbells You Can Do Anywhere

shoulder exercises with dumbbells

Dumbbells are a fantastic fitness essential for training your shoulders.

Here’s why.

So, if having boulder shoulders is high on your fitness goals list, then shoulder exercises with dumbbells are the way to go!

In this blog, we’ll show you the best shoulder workouts with dumbbells that you can try at home.

Benefits of training the shoulders

There are plenty of reasons why you should do all shoulder exercises with dumbbells at home.

1. Injury prevention

Your shoulder joint is an extremely delicate ball and socket joint. So when the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint become weak (stabilizer muscles), it can cause instability, leading to injury.

When you do shoulder exercises at home with dumbbells, both your deltoids and your rotator cuff muscles (stabilizer muscles) get strengthened resulting in more stable shoulders and fewer chances of injury.

2. Improved posture

Every time you do shoulder exercises with dumbbells only, you don’t just target your shoulders but also your back, and chest. This translates to a strong upper body and therefore better posture. 

shoulder exercises with dumbbells

In addition to this, doing shoulder exercises with dumbbells at home improves your core strength and thus forces your body to sit up tall. 

Want to build a rock-solid core? Check out our detailed guide on Ab Rollers here!

3. Improved performance inside and outside the gym

Think about any of your pressing or pulling movements in your chest and back exercises (pull-ups, rows, etc.). Unless you have strong shoulders you won’t be able to perform any of these movements efficiently, let alone maximize your gains.

Not just that, when you do shoulder exercises with dumbbells, regular activities such as lifting a heavy bag, or throwing a frisbee become much easier. 

Check out our top dumbbell exercises for chest and lower back here!

4. Aesthetic value

Another great reason to do shoulder exercises with dumbbells? You’re going to get a super-toned, uber-sexy upper body as most shoulder exercises target even your chest, back, and triceps.

shoulder exercises with dumbbells

Nothing like strong, toned shoulders to rock that sleeveless T-shirt, eh?

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Shoulder anatomy

Your deltoids (shoulder muscles) are made up of 3 heads.

  • Anterior (front) deltoid – targeted in most pressing movements like shoulder presses.
  • Medial (lateral) deltoid – used in most overhead pressing movements and side raises.
  • Posterior (rear) deltoid – activated in pulling movements like reverse flyes.

What makes shoulder exercises at home with dumbbells so unique is you’ll be able to get a large range of motion to isolate all 3 deltoid heads.

The 10 best shoulder exercises with dumbbells

Add some serious mass to your shoulders with these 10 best shoulder exercises with dumbbells only!

1. Seated dumbbell shoulder press

Muscles worked: Anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, posterior deltoid, triceps.

How to perform

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a bench with back support.
  • Raise the dumbbells to shoulder height one at a time.
  • Rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing forwards. This is the starting position.
  • Exhale and raise the dumbbells until they almost touch at the top.
  • Pause and then slowly return to the starting position, while inhaling.
  • Perform the desired number of reps.

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2. Leaning dumbbell lateral raise

This back shoulder exercise with dumbbells gives you more stability and range of motion as your arm has to move a larger distance to perform this raise; meaning more tension and more gains.

Muscles worked: Lateral deltoids, upper trapezius, core.

How to perform

  • Grasp a stable platform such as a pole with one hand (off hand) and place your feet next to it.
  • Lean away from the platform extending your off arm to full length.
  • Ensure your torso is in a straight line with your legs at full extension.
  • Grab a dumbbell in your active hand and position it next to your thigh.
  • Now raise the dumbbell until it is just above shoulder height. You should feel a contraction in your lateral deltoid.
  • Pause for a moment and then lower again.
  • Perform the desired number of reps on this side and then switch sides.

3. Dumbbell alternating front raise

Muscles worked: Anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, chest, trapezius.

How to perform

  • Grab one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip.
  • Position them in front of your thighs with your elbows straight or slightly bent. This is the starting position.
  • Now raise one dumbbell until it is above shoulder height.
  • Pause for a moment and then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement with the other hand.
  • Keep alternating between both hands for the desired number of reps.

4. Dumbbell upright row

Muscles worked: Deltoids, trapezius, biceps.

How to perform

  • Stand with a hip-width stance and grab a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip.
  • Position the dumbbells at the top of your thighs with your arms extended and your shoulder blades pinned back. This is the starting position.
  • Exhale as you use your deltoids to raise the dumbbells vertically while bending your arms up and moving your elbows out to the sides until the dumbbells reach chest level.
  • Ensure that the dumbbells are close to your torso as you do so.
  • Squeeze your deltoids, pause for a second, and then return to the starting position.
  • Perform the desired number of reps.

5. Arnold Dumbbell Press

Muscles worked: Deltoids, trapezius, triceps.

How to perform

  • Sit on a bench with back support.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you at chest level with palms facing your body and your elbows bent.
  • Your arms should be next to your torso similar to the contracted position of a dumbbell curl. This is the starting position.
  • Exhale and raise the dumbbells while rotating your palms outward, until they’re facing forward.
  • Keep raising the dumbbells until your arms are extended straight above you.
  • Pause for a moment and then slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position by rotating your palms towards you.
  • Perform the desired number of reps.

6. Dumbbell push press

Muscles worked: Deltoids, trapezius, triceps, upper chest.

How to perform

  • Stand with a hip-width stance.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them on your shoulders with your elbows pointing in front of your body. This is the starting position.
  • Dip your torso directly down by bending your knees.
  • Exhale, push through your heels, and use the momentum to extend your arms upward, as you come up to a standing position.
  • Pause for a moment and then return to the starting position.
  • Perform the desired number of reps.

7. Dumbbell figure-8

Muscles worked: Deltoids, core.

How to perform

  • Hold one dumbbell with a crush grip as shown in the video.
  • In this exercise, you have to “draw” a figure 8 in front of your body.
  • Keeping your core engaged, bring your arms out to one side, drop down in the middle, and then out to the other side as if you were drawing the number 8.
  • Perform this movement for a minute or two.

8. Dumbbell Urlacher

Muscles worked: Posterior deltoid, trapezius, rhomboids, rotator cuffs.

How to perform

  • Sit on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing in. The dumbbells should be by your sides.
  • Raise the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. As you do so, externally rotate your shoulders until your palms are facing outwards.
  • Keep your arms close to your body.
  • Pause for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Perform the desired number of reps.

9. One-Arm Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise

Since this exercise uses only one arm at a time, it pulls in more core strength as well as allowing for a stronger contraction.

Muscles worked: Posterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, trapezius.

How to perform

  • Stand with a hip-width stance, holding one dumbbell in your right hand with your palms facing in. Place your left hand on your hip.
  • Bend over until your upper body is almost parallel to the ground. Keep your back flat and let the dumbbell hang downward. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your upper body stable and your core engaged, lift your right hand out to the side.
  • Feel the squeeze at the top of the movement and then slowly lower back to the starting position.
  • Perform the desired number of reps with your right hand and then switch sides.

10. Dumbbell shoulder scoop press

Muscles worked: Anterior deltoid.

How to perform

  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing in.
  • Position them in front of your chest such that your upper arms are perpendicular to your forearms.
  • Now push your arms backward, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Return to the previous position and then push your arms towards the ceiling until your arms are fully extended.
  • Repeat this movement for the desired number of reps.

Final words

Strong healthy shoulders are key to having a good quality of life. So invest in a set of dumbbells today and reap all the amazing benefits!

Which of these shoulder muscle exercises with dumbbells are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!





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