In this post, we will be discussing shoulder workout with dumbbells. Having wide shoulders gives the upper part of our body an inverted triangle shape, where our body appears to be wider at the top and narrower at the waist.

Having well-developed shoulders can indicate strength and health since you’ll have lots of upper body muscle mass. It’s recommended that you support shoulder strength with a strong back and arms as well as a lean waist.

Every different muscle group in our body has its own exercises. in this post we will focus on the shoulder muscles which are:

The front deltoid

The medial deltoid

The rear deltoid

We will be focusing on shoulder workouts with dumbbells targeting the three shoulder muscles.

1- The front deltoid:

Front Dumbbell Raise:

This exercise targets the anterior delts {front deltoid}, which is great for building shoulder mass. Also, it is considered an isolation exercise as it works the front head of the shoulder only.

It is advisable to use lighter weights in this exercise as it put more pressure on one specific part of the shoulder. The mistake that many do is trying to lift heavy weights while performing these exercises. they think that the heavier weight they lift, the faster they will get bigger shoulders which is not true. Instead, you should lift lighter weights and increase the number of reps; for example, from 10 to 20.

In order to perform this exercise, the right way you should do the following:

1- Stand up and hold the set of dumbbells against your thighs.

2- make sure that your palms are facing you.

3- Raise the one dumbbell in front of you to the point where the dumbbells are just above your shoulder line. then you should lower it back slowly. The other hand should be resting against your thigh at this point.

Some people prefer raising two hands at the same time. that is alright, both ways are correct as long as you are performing the technique the right way.

4- Aim for 4 sets, 10 to 15 reps, and if you go till 20 that is fine.

Dumbbell shoulder press:

is an important exercise in order to build shoulder mass and strength. This particular exercise uses multiple muscles at once, which allows the person to lift heavy weights. But the main target for this exercise is the anterior delts (The front deltoid). A dumbbell shoulder press can be done either seated or standing. Personally, I prefer the seated version because you will not be having any support momentum. Also, it is better for building shoulder mass.

The correct technique for doing the seated shoulder press the right way is:

  • Hold the two dumbbells at shoulder level, and make sure that your palms are facing forward.
  • Push the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended upwards.
  • lower them back down after a short pause. make sure that you come down to about 90 degrees.
  • Make sure that you do not use your back to help you raise the dumbbells.

2-The medial deltoid:

Upright Row:

This exercise targets your traps or shoulder. it relies on how wide and narrow is your elbows when performing the exercise. Since our main goal is working the shoulder you should keep your elbows wide, so you can target the Medial Deltoid {side deltoid}.

Unlike the front raise exercise, this one can be performed with heavy weights. You should increase your weight gradually and not at once.

Here is the right technique which you should follow when doing this exercise:

1- Stand up and hold the dumbbells in your hands in front of your thigh.

2- make sure that your palms are facing downwards.

3- Lift your hands and elbows upwards until your arms are parallel to the ground. keep your palms facing the floor.

4- At the top make sure that your hands are in line with your shoulders and faced forward, and it should be a 90° bend.

5- Lower the weight slowly after a short pause

6- Aim for 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Dumbbell lateral raise:

Dumbbell lateral raise is an exercise that targets the Medial Deltoid. It is a great exercise for both beginners and experienced weightlifters. it helps them build strong and well-toned medial deltoid.

When you are performing this exercise make sure that your elbows are close to the torso, especially in the initial position. Dumbbell lateral raises can be performed either standing or sitting on a bench. I prefer the sitting version which eliminates the leg support that you get when you are doing the exercise standing.

1- Stand straight with your legs slightly bent/ sit on the bench with two dumbbells in both hands.

2-You should make sure that your arms are on the side in a fully extended position, and that your palms are facing the torso.

3- Lift the dumbbells towards the side until they are parallel to your shoulder

4- Hold for a moment and return to the initial position.

3-The rear deltoid:

Crouched Rear Deltoid Row:

This exercise targets the Rear Deltoid. It is better to use lightweight for this exercise as well.

Here are some instructions on how to perform this exercise:

1- Stand with an upright torso, while holding dumbbells in each hand close to your knees. You should keep your back straight.

2- make sure that your body forms a 45-degree angle with the floor.

3- Your palms should face backward.

4- Pull your shoulder into a retracted position, and then lift the dumbbells towards your chest by bending your elbows

5- At the top of the movement make sure that your arms are in a straight line.

6- Pause shortly and then lower the weight slowly to the starting position.

Dumbbell bent-over raise:

This exercise targets the posterior delt (Rear Deltoid), which is the small muscle at the back of the shoulder. The majority of people ignore exercising this part of the shoulder compared to the other parts; although, it gives the shoulder a large and rounded appearance.

If you are looking to have a wide shoulder with a large muscle mass, you should target all parts. that means you have to target the rear deltoid. This exercise can be done standing or seated.

1- Sit on the end of the bench, bent over, and rest your chest right on your thigh so as to hold the dumbbells in your hand just below the floor.

2- Raise your hands up toward the ceiling in reverse fly motion, and make sure that your arms are close to being parallel to the ground, then lower them slowly.

3- Avoid bouncing your torso or relying on any support momentum, also 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

There are many other exercises that can be done with dumbbells, but I consider these shoulder workout with dumbbells the core of a shoulder exercise. if you want to build a wider shoulder, you should include these three exercises in your workout program. Also, a shoulder workout with dumbbells should be done with lightweight until the muscle is developed then increase the weight gradually. There is no point in pushing yourself to lift heavy weights for two reasons:

1- you will not be able to perform the exercise the right way

2- it may lead to shoulder injuries

all I am saying is take it easy, these three muscles are small and they need time to develop. Keep working on them and make sure that you do it right so, you can reap the rewards. Rushing things will not get you to where you wanna go. on the contrary, it may cripple your effort if you get injured because you performed an exercise the wrong way or lifted more weight that you can handle


Categories: Exercises


Steve Costello · December 2, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Hi Yasser. Thank you for this excellent post. I ride mountain bike a lot and I’m always interested in ways to work my muscles during a day at the desk. These exercises are perfect for increasing my shoulder strength which is of course needed more than non-riders realize. I’m always interested in knowing more and will look out for your future posts.

    Yasser · December 2, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    you are welcome Steve, and your words means a lot to me. you are right shoulder is muscle that we use in almost all activities and i mean sports. also, having wide shoulders give your body a nice shape at the top, and whatever you wear will look good on you.

Roderick Massiah · December 3, 2019 at 3:06 pm

What I like about your article is that it explains the proper way to do exercises with dumbells without injury to oneself. Very well written.

    Yasser · December 4, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    THANKS RODERICK, i appreciate that, and i hope that you check my other posts and the future posts, i would like your feedback on them all.

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