50 Best Shoulder Exercises To Target Full Range of Motion


The best shoulder exercises work your delts, upper trapezius, serratus anterior, rotator cuff muscles, and levator scapulae to truly build three-dimensional shoulders. 

Shaking up your go-to routine will yield major dividends. The overhead press and lateral raise are definitely in the top tier of muscle-building moves, but they can only do so much to build strong, functional shoulders. Your gains will stagnate if you’re not introducing new challenges.

Related: 50 Best Arm Exercises of All Time

By working your muscles in different planes of motion and targeting smaller (usually underutilized) stabilizing muscles, you’ll fortify your joints against injury and, let’s face it, create the ultimate aesthetic, too.

Some of the exercises below require a full gym with machines. Others can be done with standard home-gym equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, suspension trainers, and exercise bands. Traveling or training outside of a gym? We’ve included bodyweight exercises to do at home, too.

Related: 50 Best Chest Exercises of 2023

Here are 50 effective shoulder exercises—from the tried-and-true Arnold press to upright row to push press—that’ll improve your range of motion, add size, and build strength.

Best Shoulder Exercises of All Time

1. Renegade Row

How to do it:

  • Start in the top position of a pushup with your hands on dumbbells shoulder-width apart.
  • Row one dumbbell toward the side of your body while balancing on the opposite hand and feet.
  • Pause for one second at the top and return the weight slowly to the start position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Pro tip:

Keep your elbow tucked as you lift in order to work the right muscles without causing strain.

2. Standing Dumbbell Fly

How to do it:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides.
  • Without shrugging, use your upper body to swing the weights up a few inches.
  • Your arms and torso will form an upside down V shape.
  • Think of it as a lateral raise with momentum but without full range of motion.

3. Face Pull

How to do it:

  • Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station.
  • Grasp an end in each hand with palms facing each other. Step back to place tension on the cable.
  • Pull the handles to your forehead so your palms face your ears and your upper back is fully contracted.

4. High Pull

How to do it:

  • Grasp the bar with hands about double shoulder width and hold it in front of your thighs.
  • Bend your knees and hips so the bar hangs just above your knees.
  • Explosively extend your hips as if jumping and pull the bar up to shoulder level with elbows wide apart, as in an upright row.

5. Seated Dumbbell Clean

How to do it:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on the edge of a bench. 
  • Keeping your lower back flat, lean forward.
  • Explosively straighten your body and shrug the weights so your arms rise.
  • Allow the momentum to flip your wrists so you catch the weights at shoulder level.

6. Trap Raise

How to do it:

  • Set a bench to a low incline and lie chest-down with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing.
  • Retract your shoulder blades, then raise the weights straight out so your arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Make sure to stretch out properly afterward. This tool on Amazon will make it easy for you.

7. Clean and Press

How to do it:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width.
  • Keeping your lower back arched, bend your hips back to lower your torso and grasp the bar with your hands shoulder width.
  • Extend your hips to lift the bar off the floor.,
  • When it gets past your knees, jump and shrug the bar so that momentum raises it and you catch it at shoulder level.
  • Brace your abs and stand tall. Press the bar straight overhead.

8. Snatch-Grip High Pull

How to do it:

  • Set up as you did for the clean and press, but grasp the bar with hands double shoulder width.
  • Explode the bar upward until it’s at chest level and your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Try to push your chest out as you lift the bar and contract your upper back completely.

9. Band Lateral Raise

How to do it:

  • Step on the free end of each band with the opposite foot so the bands form an X in front of your body.
  • Raise your arms 90 degrees out to the sides until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

10. Band Front Raise

How to do it:

Stand on bands and hold the opposite ends. Raise your arms in front of your body to shoulder height.

11. Band Bentover Lateral Raise

How to do it:

  • Stand on the end of one band with your right foot and hold it with your left hand.
  • Do the opposite with another band so that the bands cross each other.
  • Bend your hips back until your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
  • The bands should be taut in this starting position.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your arms out to your sides.

12. Band W Raise

How to do it:

  • Attach bands to a sturdy object at shoulder level and hold the opposite ends in each hand.
  • Stand back to put tension on the bands.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the bands to your shoulders with elbows flared out so your upper arms make a W shape.
  • Hold for two seconds.

13. Single-Arm Cable Row

How to do it:

  • Stand facing the pulley, holding the D-handle in left hand, palm facing down, and step back until cable is taut.
  • Sink back into your butt and keep your chest high, right hand on right hip.
  • Retract your shoulder blades and draw your elbow straight back.
  • As you pull, rotate your palm toward your body, so it’s next to the rib cage.

14. Suspension Trainer Y-Raise

How to do it:

  • Grasp the handles and stand with feet about shoulder width.
  • Lean back 45–60 degrees, so your body is supported by the suspension trainer, and brace your abs.
  • Raise your arms up and out into a Y shape with palms facing forward.
  • Your body will become more vertical, but don’t allow your shoulders to lose tension at the top of the movement.
  • Your weight will shift from the back foot to the front foot.
  • Want to try this one at home? This Amazon resistance training kit can be attached to a door.

15. Suspension Trainer Rear-Delt Raise

How to do it:

  • Shorten the length of the handles, but stand as you did for the Y raise.
  • Open your arms out to your sides with palms facing in until your shoulder blades are squeezed together.
  • Allow a little bend in your elbows.

16. Dive Bomber Pushup

How to do it:

  • Get into pushup position.
  • Push your hands into the floor to drive your weight back so your hips rise into the air.
  • Your back should be straight and your head behind your hands.
  • Lower your body in an arcing motion so that your chest scoops downward and nearly scrapes the floor.
  • Continue moving forward as you press your body up so your torso is vertical and your legs are straight and nearly on the floor. That’s one rep.

17. Pike Press

How to do it:

  • Get into pushup position and push your hips back so your torso is nearly vertical.
  • Your hands, arms, and head should be in a straight line.
  • Lower your body until your head nearly touches the floor between your hands and then press back up.

18. Dip

How to do it:

  • Rest the palms of your hands on a bench or chair, and, if available, place your heels on another elevated object in front of you so your legs are suspended.
  • Lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

19. Lateral Plank Walk

How to do it:

  • Get into pushup position and simultaneously move your left hand over your right while your right leg steps out wide. Now bring the right hand out and walk your left foot into a normal pushup footing. That’s  one shuffle. Continue “walking” for 10 shuffles and then walk in the opposite direction to get back to the starting position. Keep your core braced and your hips level at all times.

20. Dumbbell Neutral Grip Overhead Press

How to do it:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with palms facing each other and elbows pointing forward.
  • Brace your core and press the weights straight overhead.
  • At the top, shrug your shoulders and hold for a second.

21. Dumbbell Raise Complex

How to do it:

  • Hold dumbbells at your sides with palms facing you.
  • Raise the weights up in front of you to shoulder level with thumbs pointing up.
  • Complete 12–15 reps and then raise the weights out to your sides 90 degrees (bend your elbows a bit as you lift).
  • Complete your reps and then switch to a lighter pair of dumbbells. 
  • Raise them out to your sides and up to ear level with straight arms and thumbs pointing up.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds. Squeeze your glutes to help support you.

22. Snatch-Grip Low Pull

How to do it:

  • Set up as you did for the high pull, but when you jump, perform an explosive shrug and bend your elbows to pull the bar into your belly.
  • Do not continue to lift the bar up to chest level.

23. Snatch-Grip Shrug Pull

How to do it:

  • This is done the same as the low-pull, but keep your elbows straight and perform an explosive shrug once the bar passes your knees.

24. Rack Deadlift

How to do it:

  • Set up the bar on some mats, boxes, or the safety rods of a power rack so that it rests just below your knees.
  • Stand with feet hip width and, keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend your hips back and grasp the bar just outside your knees.
  • Pull the bar into your body tightly, extend your hips and stand up.

25. Farmer’s Walk

How to do it:

  • Pick up the heaviest set of dumbbells you can handle and walk.
  • Squeeze the handles hard and walk with your chest out and shoulders back.
  • If you don’t have the space to walk in a straight line, walk in a figure-eight pattern.

26. Dumbbell Deadlift/Shrug Combo

How to do it:

  • Hold dumbbells at your sides and stand with feet shoulder width.
  • Bend your hips back to squat down until the weights are knee level.
  • Now explode upward and shrug hard at the top.
  • Reset your feet before beginning the next rep.

27. Bottoms-up Kettlebell Press

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart, gripping a kettlebell in one hand at your shoulder.
  • Grasp the kettlebell’s handle, positioning the kettlebell upside down, so the bell is pointing toward the ceiling.
  • Keeping your wrist perfectly straight and the kettlebell steady, press your arm straight up, extending your elbow.
  • Carefully bend your elbow and lower the kettlebell back to shoulder height.

28. Incline Bench Press

How to do it:

  • Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle and lie back on it.
  • Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width, arch your back, and pull it off the rack.
  • Lower the bar to the upper part of your chest and then drive your feet into the floor as you press it back up.

29. Machine Shoulder Press

How to do it:

  • Adjust the seat of a shoulder press machine so that the handles are at shoulder level.
  • If you have shoulder problems, and if your machine allows it, grasp the handles so your palms face each other.
  • Otherwise, grasp them with palms facing forward as normal.
  • Make sure your elbows track in a normal pressing path as you press the handles overhead.

30. Bentover Reverse Flye

How to do it:

  • Set up as you did for the neutral-grip row but with lighter dumbbells.
  • Raise your arms out to your sides 90 degrees, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top for a second.
  • Complete your set and then rest until the end of three minutes, when your timer goes off.

31. Waiter’s Walk

How to do it:

  • Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand and hold it either overhead or with your elbow bent so it’s near your face.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pulled down and back, and your wrist straight.
  • Fire your glutes as you walk 10 yards out and 10 yards back.
  • Switch hands and repeat.

32. Upright Row

How to do it:

  • Hold the bar with hands slightly farther outside shoulder width than for the overhead press.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar to chest height.
  • Your elbows should be bent 90 degrees in the top position and your upper arms should be horizontal.

33. Feet-Elevated Pushup

How to do it:

  • Assume a pushup position with your feet on a stair, bench, or Swiss ball.
  • Lower while inhaling until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • Exhale as you push back up.
  • You can also place your hands on top of the medicine ball.
  • Keeping core tight and neck neutral, lower chest toward ball as far as possible, or until elbows reach 90 degrees.

34. Suspension Trainer Knee Tuck

How to do it:

  • Start in pushup position with hands beneath shoulders and each foot inside a suspension trainer strap so the straps hang vertically.
  • While keeping your shoulders stable, pull your knees toward your chest.
  • Move slow and controlled.

35. T Pushup

How to do it:

  • Start in pushup position, arms straight, with hands on light dumbbells (or start without weights, as shown).
  • Lower yourself and as you push back up, lift your left arm and rotate to the left until your left arm is straight up and your right side faces the floor.
  • Your body should look like a “T” on its side.
  • Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.

36. Dumbbell Incline Row

How to do it:

  • Straddle the seat of an incline bench and lie chest down, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing in, both feet on the floor.
  • Retract your shoulder blades and row both dumbbells parallel to your hips.

37. Offset Single-Arm Chest Press

How to do it:

  • Lie on a bench with your left glute and left shoulder blade on the bench and right glute and right shoulder blade off the bench.
  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and either extend your opposite arm or hold on to the bench just above your head. Lower the weight until your elbow is in line with your shoulder, then press it up until your arm is fully extended.

38. Angled Press

How to do it:

  • Grasp a light dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands and, keeping your lower back arched, bend your hips back until your torso makes a 45-degree angle.
  • Hold  the weight at shoulder level as you would to do a normal overhead press, then press it at that angle. Hold the need position for a moment.

39. Inverted Row

How to do it:

  • Set a barbell in a rack at waist level. Slide under the bar and grab it overhand.
  • Your body should be in a straight line from neck to ankles.
  • Hang with your arms straight and only your heels touching the floor.
  • Pull your chest to the bar, then return to starting position.

40. Barbell Overhead Press

How to do it:

  • Set the bar up in a squat rack or cage, and grasp it just outside shoulder width.
  • Take the bar off the rack and hold it at shoulder level with your forearms perpendicular to the floor. 
  • Squeeze the bar and brace your abs. Press the bar overhead, pushing your head forward and shrugging your traps as the bar passes your face.

41. Single-Arm Cable Front Raise

How to do it:

  • Face away from the pulley, with D-handle in left hand, fist close to your body and down, right hand 2 on right hip.
  • With soft knees and a tight core, keeping arm fully extended, raise left arm until the fist is in line with the shoulder.
  • Hold for 1 second, then lower for 1 rep.
  • Complete all reps on the right side, then switch to left.

42. Cat-Cow

How to do it:

  • Start on all fours with hands beneath shoulders and knees on the ground.
  • Inhale, dropping your chest as you push your hips and shoulder blades back into cow position.
  • Lift your chin and chest and gaze forward.
  • Exhale as you draw your belly button to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling to transition to cat.

43. Suspension Trainer Pike Pushup

How to do it:

  • Attach the suspension trainer to a sturdy object overhead, and lower the foot cradles to about knee height (you want your body to be in a straight line when you rest your feet in them).
  • Get into pushup position with your feet in the cradles and hands placed shoulder width on the floor.
  • Keeping your abs braced, lower your body until your chest is just above the floor and then push back up.
  • Now bend your hips and raise them into the air until your torso is vertical.
  • Straighten your body again. That’s one rep.

44. Pullup

How to do it:

  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Hanging from the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down to lift your body and build momentum.
  • Finish by pulling up with your arms.

RELATED: The Best Pull-Up Bars for Home Gyms of Every Size

45. Cross-Body Landmine Row

How to do it:

  • Stand with landmine on left, feet slightly staggered, right leg forward.
  • Grab the barbell in left hand, hinge your torso forward, and extend both arms down to start.
  • Keeping right fingertips pointed to floor, row left arm so elbow points to back wall.

46. Seated Single-Arm Press

How to do it:

  • Sit on a bench, feet on floor, a heavy dumbbell in left hand, holding it at shoulder level to start.
  • Press dumbbell overhead, then return to start for 1 rep.
  • Do all reps on left side, then switch sides.

47. Dumbbell Bentover Lateral Raise

How to do it:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and, keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend your hips back until your torso is about parallel to the floor.
  • Allow your arms to hang.
  • Now squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your arms out 90 degrees, with thumbs pointing up, until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

48. Suspension Trainer Row

How to do it:

  • Attach a suspension system trainer to a pullup bar.
  • Grab the handles so you’re looking up at the pullup bar.
  • Walk out until you can extend your arms without hitting the floor.
  • Hang from the straps so that your body forms a straight line.
  • Pull yourself up until the handles reach the sides of your chest.
  • Lower and repeat.

49. Inchworm

How to do it:

  • Stand with legs straight and hands on the floor.
  • Walk your hands out.
  • Keeping legs as straight as possible, walk your feet back to your hands using short steps from your ankles.

50. Incline Bench-Supported Y Raise

How to do it:

  • Straddle a bench set to a 45-degree incline, a light (3 to 10 pounds) dumbbell in each hand.
  • Raise arms up and out to form the letter Y. Hold this position for 5 to 8 seconds.

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