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10 Best Shoulder Exercises at the Gym (Including Warmup + Stretching)

Welcome to Fitness Deciphers…!!!

Want to grow wider and stronger shoulder…right???

Don’t worry…

This is the complete guide on shoulder exercises at the gym.

When it comes to bodybuilding, shoulders are extremely important to train because they give you wideness which makes you look stout and sturdy.

Here, we will discuss the best and most effective shoulder exercises that you can do at the gym to get wider and stronger shoulders.

Shoulder Exercises at the Gym

I would like to divide the shoulder exercises into three parts.

  1. Warm-up exercises
  2. Main exercises
  3. Stretching exercises

So, you can get the whole list of shoulders exercises in just one article and you don’t need to read more articles separately.

So, let’s start.

1. Warm-up Exercises for Shoulders

Warm-up before starting the heavy exercises is extremely important.

Here are the reasons.

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Warms the body to prevent any injury
  • Prepares our body psychologically for further heavy exercises

1) Rotating single arm

Just rotate both of your hands one by one clockwise and anti-clockwise.

Do such rotations 5-6 times.

2) Both arm rotation

After single-arm rotation, go for both arm rotations.

Sport woman doing exercise with Big Arm Circles posture for warm up. Rotation arms help to prevent injuries from strength training.


3) Shoulder rotation

Just keep your both hands parallel to the ground and then rotate both arms simultaneously. The exercise is shown in the below image.

Shoulder rotation exercise (shoulder exercises at the gym)

4) Shoulder side to side rotation

One of the best shoulder warm-up exercises. The exercise is shown in the below images.

Dynamic training for the mobility of the joints of the arms and shoulders

5) Shoulder side to front movement

This exercise is generally taught to students in their primary schools but it is a good shoulder warm-up exercise.

The exercise is shown in the below image.

shoulder side to front movements


6) Shoulder movements

In the first exercise, you have to bring two palms closer and farther.

In the second exercise, you have to bring your elbows closer and farther.

The image for the exercise is shown below.

Shoulder warm-up exercises

7) Shoulder 4 step warm-up exercise movements

It includes 4 exercises that you can choose to include in your shoulder warm-up exercise list.

Girl trains the muscles of the breast. The girl stands with an expander. Isolated on white background

8) Front-back arm rotation

A good exercise for warming up your shoulder.

The rotation of the arms

9) Shoulder Socket rotation

Keep your fingers touching the shoulder and then rotate the shoulder clockwise as well as anti-clockwise.

Waist up shot of sporty woman keeps both hands on shoulders, does exercises during morning workout, wears casual top and leggings, looks directly seriously at camera, isolated over grey background shoulder workout stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

There can be many more variants but I think these exercises are enough to warm our shoulders up.

Don’t overdo warm-up exercises. The warm-up of 5-10 minutes is good enough for shoulders.

2. Main Shoulder Exercises at the Gym

It includes heavy shoulder exercises that you should do for at least 45-60 minutes (including breaks) once or twice a week.

Biceps, triceps, and shoulders are considered small muscle groups.

You shouldn’t train them much in a single session. Rather train them more frequently ( I train them twice a week).

The ideal shoulder exercise should focus on,

  • Front (anterior) deltoids
  • Middle (Lateral) deltoids
  • Rear (Posterior) deltoids
  • Upper trapezius
  • Middle trapezius

The deltoids and trapezius muscles are shown in the below two images.

Front, Middle, and Rear deltoids

(The left one shows front and middle deltoids and the right one shows rear deltoids)

Upper and Middle trapezius are shown

(Left one is the upper trapezius and the right one is the middle trapezius)

If you focus on these muscles, your shoulder workouts will be perfectly covered.

The exercises mentioned here will help you cover each and every shoulder muscle and make your shoulder workout 100% fruitful.

1) Barbell Overhead Press

You can train middle and front deltoids using this exercise.


  • Sit on a bench or stand straight
  • Hold the bar with plates of your convenience
  • Hold it with a “wider than shoulder” grip
  • Lower down the bar and keep it in front of your face and below chin level (for the front deltoids)
  • Then press the bar up over the head and don’t lock your knees there.
  • Lower down the bar to the starting position. Do 3-4 repetitions more.
  • For the middle deltoids, keep the bar behind the neck at the ear level.
  • Then do the same exercise.

Doing this exercise in the standing position wants and increases your stability.

If you are doing this exercise in a standing position then keep your knees slightly bent because your leg will absorb some of the jerk which will protect your lower back from injury.

You can also use the smith machine in your gym to do a barbell overhead press.

barbell overhead press

shoulder press placing the bar behind the neck

( Shoulder press behind the neck using smith machine)


2) Dumbbell Overhead Press

It is the same as a barbell overhead press but instead of a barbell, you have to use dumbbells.

It also targets the front and middle deltoids.


  • Sit on the bench or stand straight.
  • Lift the dumbbells of your convenient weight and hold them so that two dumbbells and neck remain in a straight line
  • Slowly push up the dumbells by contracting your shoulder and extending your elbows.
  • Slightly lock your elbow there and slowly come back to your original position.
  • Do 3-4 reps.
  • To target front deltoids more precisely, let your palms face in throughout the exercise. (shown in the below image)

shoulder press using dumbbells

You can also do this exercise using a machine or using alternate hands.

shoulder exercises at the gym

In the below image, a dumbbell press with palms facing in is shown.

Shoulder Press with palms facing in

(Shoulder Press with palms facing in to work better on front deltoids)

3) Arnold Press

First of all,

Why is it called Arnold press?

It is named after Arnold Schwarzenegger who loved this exercise most to train all three muscles of the shoulder.

It is one of the best shoulder exercises at the gym generally practiced to focus on front deltoids most.


  • Sit on a bench or stand straight.
  • Hold a pair of dumbbells of your weight choice.
  • Make sure to hold them in front of you such that your palms face you.
  • Press both the dumbbells twisting your wrist such that when both dumbbells are up, the backside of your palms face you.
  • Also, the distance between two hands should be increased as you press dumbbells up.
  • Then get back to the original position.
  • Do 4-5 reps.

Arnold Schwarzenegger used this exercise to train all the deltoid muscles of the shoulder.

The exercise is shown in the below image.


Check these out

4) Barbell Upright Row

You can target three shoulder muscles that are upper and middle deltoids and upper trapezius with this exercise.

This exercise is generally performed after doing overhead presses.


  • Stand straight
  • Choose the barbell of your weight choice and hold it with an “overhand shoulder-width” grip down in front of you.
  • Keep your arms extended
  • Slightly bend your knees
  • Keeping your shoulders depressed, pull up the bar to your chest level
  • Keep your deltoids contract and bend your elbows
  • Hold a bar at the top level for 1-2 seconds
  • Then slowly lower down the bar and get back to the original position.

If you feel uncomfortable using a straight bar, you can use a zigzag bar.

To increase the intensity of the workout increase the weight or you can also use a narrower grip.

Barbell Upright Row (shoulder exercises at the gym)

You can do the same exercise using a smith machine or cable machine. The method and targeted muscles will be the same.

Another variation of this exercise is to use dumbbells instead of using a barbell.

Dumbbells are also useful in this exercise because you can check whether your both hands are applying the same force or not.

You can also practice this exercise using only one hand.

The image for the dumbbell upright row is shown in the below image.

Dumbbell upright row exercise

Instead of dumbbells, you can also use a kettlebell.

kettlebell upright row

5) Dumbbell Lateral Raise

It generally targets middle deltoids.

This exercise helps a lot in widening the shoulders. You should never skip this exercise if you want to train your shoulder perfectly.


  • Stand straight holding a pair of dumbbells of your weight choice.
  • Keep both of your palms facing your thighs.
  • Slightly bend your elbows
  • Raise both the dumbbells laterally (side to side)
  • Stop until your both arms are parallel to the ground
  • Hold 1-2 seconds there
  • Then get back to the starting position
  • Do 3-4 reps

Variations: Seated dumbbell lateral raise, one hand dumbbell lateral raise


shoulder lateral raise

single hand dumbbell lateral raise (shoulder exercises at the gym)

6) Dumbbell Front Raise

It targets the front deltoid muscle.

Warning: Your back can be hurt if practiced wrongly.


  • Stand straight holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
  • Keep an “overhand shoulder-width grip”
  • Keep your hands extended toward the floor
  • Bend your knees and elbow slightly
  • Contract your deltoids to lift the bar up and out in front of you
  • Raise both hands until they are parallel to the ground
  • Hold there 1-2 seconds then get back to the starting position
  • Do 3-4 reps increasing the weight slowly

You can also use a barbell or a weight plate instead of a pair of dumbbells.

While performing a set, try to stop the dumbbells 6-10 inches above the thighs while lowering down. It will make your shoulder remain in constant tension.

Variations: Incline barbell/dumbbells front raise, prone incline barbell/ dumbbell front raise, cable front raise.

dumbbell front raise

7) Dumbbell Bent-Over Lateral Raise

You can target your rear deltoids (the above exercises focus on front and middle deltoids) with this exercise.


  • Stand straight and hold a pair of dumbbells of your choice
  • Bend your waist at 45 to 90 degree
  • Keep your back flat and not curled
  • Keep both the dumbbells hang towards the floor facing each other
  • Keep both the elbows extended
  • Contrat your rear deltoids to raise the dumbbells
  • Keep raising until your upper arms are parallel to the floor
  • Hold there 1-2 seconds
  • Lower the dumbbell down slowly to get back to starting position
  • Do 3-4 repetitions of this exercise

You can also perform this exercise while seated on the bench.

Variations: Machine Reverse Fly, Cross-body rear deltoid raise

Standing Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly Workout Standing Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly Workout


8) Face Pull Shoulder Exercise

You can train rear deltoids and trapezius with this exercise.

You will need a cable machine for this exercise.


  • Set the pulley just above your height
  • Fix the rope on the pulley to pull
  • Grasp both the ends with both hands with your palms facing inside
  • Step back and extend your arms fully
  • Pull the rope towards your forehead keeping your palms facing in
  • Slowly get back to the original position
  • Do 3-4 repetitions

face pull shoulder exercise

11) Reverse Fly

It is used to target rear deltoids and middle trapezius muscles.

We have to use the same machine that we use to train the chest but in reverse order.

Reverse fly to train rear delts and trapezius Reverse fly to train shoulders

10) Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug Exercise

Many people wonder why it is called shrug exercise.

The answer is the meaning of the word “shrug” is “to raise slightly”. In this exercise, we slightly raise our shoulders that is why this exercise is called shrug exercise.

It targets the upper trapezius muscle.

This exercise should be done in the last part of shoulder exercises (after training deltoids)


  • Stands straight holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands
  • Keep your both arms hanging towards the floor and both dumbbells should be facing each other
  • Shrug (raise) your shoulder slightly
  • Hold there for 3-4 seconds
  • Then get back to the starting position
  • Do 3-4 reps

You can also seat on the bench to perform this exercise.

Variation: The main variation of this exercise is to use a barbell instead of a pair of dumbbells.

Dumbbell Shrugs

There can be many more exercises but they will be the variants of the above exercises.

I think these 10 exercises are more than enough for you to train your shoulders perfectly.

No workout depends on how many exercises you do.

Your workout session only depends on how perfectly you do the exercises.

Gradually increase the weights to train and do every exercise perfectly. That is enough to train any muscle of the body.

Now, we will discuss the shoulder stretching exercises that you should do after every shoulder workout session.

3. Stretching Exercises for Shoulders

There is no research that confirms that stretching after every workout session benefits us.

When you stretch your muscles, the blood flows through that muscle increases which may be useful for our muscles.

(I do stretching because it gives complete relaxation to my shoulder)

1) Shoulder Stretch No-1

It stretches the entire shoulder completely. Do the same stretching for both hands.

The stretch is shown in the below image.

man stretching his arms after shoulder exercise

2) Shoulder Stretch No- 2

The seconds stretch that you can do is shown in the below image.

shoulder stretch

3) Shoulder Stretch No-3

The third number of shoulder stretch is shown in the below image.

Shoulder and back stretch Illustration of shoulder and back stretch shoulder stretching stock illustrations

Make sure your stretching session doesn’t last for more than 3-5 minutes because, after the heavy exercise session, your shoulders must need rest.

Below I have mentioned one yoga pose that I recommend everyone to do after every workout no matter what part you are training.

And that is the corpse pose (also called savasana in Sanskrit). It is shown below.

Latin man with a positive mental health practicing yoga corpse pose stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

It gives complete rest to the entire body. Just lie down on the met and think nothing just feel that relaxation to the body. Do it for 5-6 minutes.

Here, I would like to complete this article.

Check these out


Here we have discussed the shoulder exercises at the gym. If you do all these 10 exercises+warm up+stretching, no one can stop you from getting broader and stronger shoulders.

Let’s summarize this article.

We have to train all 5 muscles of the shoulders.

They are,

  • Front deltoids
  • Middle deltoids
  • Rear deltoids
  • Upper trapezius
  • Middle trapezius

1) Exercises for front and middle deltoids

  • Overhead barbell/dumbbell press
  • Arnold press
  • Dumbbell/Barbell upright row
  • Front raise

2) Exercises for middle deltoids

  • Dumbbell lateral raise

3) Exercises for rear deltoids

  • Dumbbell bent-over lateral raise
  • Face pull shoulder exercise

4) Exercises for the upper trapezius

  • Shoulder shrug exercise (with dumbbell and barbell)

5) Exercises for the middle trapezius

  • Reverse fly
  • Face pull shoulder exercise

Do these all exercises to get broader/wider and stronger shoulders.

If you like this article, don’t forget to share it with your GYM BUDDIES.

Thanks for reading…!!!

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