Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder Muscle Groups

The shoulders are the smallest muscle area but definitely not the least important. Connecting the arms to the torso, the shoulders are often difficult to train as they become exhausted so quickly due to their relatively small size. Shoulder exercises should be done with great care largely due to the fact that the shoulders are more susceptible to injury than any other muscle group.

The muscles that encompass the entirety of the shoulders are:

  • Anterior Deltoid = Front Deltoid
  • Posterior Deltoid = Rear Deltoid
  • Lateral Deltoid = Side Deltoid

There are 3 designated exercise categories for the shoulder's muscle groups:

A list of shoulder exercises:

Arnold Presses (Dumbbell) Image
Arnold presses are a fundamental strength and mass building exercise that place focus on the front and middle deltoids. In addition, front presses engage the stabilizer muscles.
Bent-Over Cross Cable Laterals Image
Focusing on the rear (posterior) deltoids, bent-over cross cable laterals make use of the cable machine by starting with the arms crossed in front of the body, then using the rear deltoid to pull the cables out and away from the body.
Bent-Over Lateral Raises (Dumbbell) Image
Bent of lateral raises allow for great isolation of the rear deltoid. The trapezius and outer back are also significantly involved, especially towards the end of the movement.
Bent-Over Rows (Barbell) Image
Bent-over barbell rows is a great exercise that engages the upper back, outer back, lats, and rear shoulders in one powerful motion.
External Arm Rotations (Cable) Image
Similar to rear deltoid laterals, external arm rotations are a more challenging way to primarily target the rear deltoids, as well as the outer and upper back.
Front Arm Raises (Cable) Image
Making use of the of the cable machine, front arm raises are a great way to hit the anterior and lateral deltoids while maintaining strict focus throughout the lifting motion.
Front Arm Raises (Dumbbell) Image
Dumbbell front arm raises are a fine way to target the front deltoids, as well as the middle deltoids, and, very slightly, the rear deltoids.
Lateral Raises (Dumbbell) Image
Using a pair of dumbbells, lateral raises focus directly on the lateral deltoids while creating a highly intense muscle burn during the lift. Lateral raises are a great combo exercise with front arm raises.
Lying Side Laterals Image
A nearly forgotten exercise, lying side laterals are performed on a flat bench allowing the individual to target the lateral and posterior deltoids.
Military Press (Barbell) Image
An excellent strength and mass builder, military (barbell) presses place focus mostly on the front and middle deltoids. They are similar to (dumbbell) military presses, though they are generally more stable and can often be done with more net weight than with dumbbells.
Military Press (Dumbbell) Image
Military (dumbbell) presses are similar to (barbell) back presses, however they require more help from stabilizer muscles and focus more on the middle deltoids. Military dumbbell presses, also knows as seated presses, are a fundamental strength and mass building exercise.
One-Arm Cross Cable Laterals Image
Using the single-grip attachment and an arcing motion, one-arm cross cable laterals target the rear deltoids throughout the entire range of motion.
One-Arm Rows / Bent-Over Rows (Dumbbell) Image
Working a single side of the back at a time, one-arm rows is a great way to focus on the lats, upper back, outer back, and rear deltoids.
One-Arm Side Cable Laterals Image
Involving the exact same setup as front arm raises (cable), one-arm side cable laterals merely shift the body position and focus to directly target the lateral deltoid.
Rear Deltoid Laterals (Pec Deck) Image
Rear-deltoid laterals are beneficial for working the rear deltoids (primarily), outer back, and trapezius (upper back).
Rear Military Press (Barbell) Image
Rear military presses are a fundamental strength and mass building exercise that place focus on the middle and rear deltoids.
Reverse Overhead Laterals (Dumbbell) Image
A rarely performed exercise that uses a pair of dumbbells, reverse overhead laterals target the lateral deltoids by extending the arms out from the body then arching upward above the head.
T-Bar Rows Image
A phenomenal exercise that allows for power lifting, the t-bar row focuses primarily on the muscles of the back with emphasis placed on the lower aspect of the trapezius.
T-Bar Rows with Chest Support Image
Useful for targeting the lower aspect of the trapezius, t-bar rows with chest support allow for this exercise to be performed without requiring the use of the lower back to support the rest of the body.
Upright Rows (Barbell) Image
Upright rows are a classic exercise that primarily works the shoulder and upper back muscles.
Upright Rows (Cable) Image
Upright rows are a classic exercise that primarily work the shoulder and upper back muscles.