Welcome to this highly practical guide of the best shoulder workout at home. Whether you are looking to simply gain strength and endurance, or build a larger set of shoulders, you have come to the right place.
Being one of the most determining body parts in terms of an athletic looking physique, a large set of shoulders will contribute nicely to that strong, muscular appearance, and performance. But more importantly than how bulky your shoulders are, it’s also important to work towards healthy rotator cuffs, and maintaining structural balance within the whole scapula plane.
We will go over all this further down, if you are interested. Otherwise, let’s jump into the exercise list right away!
Exercises and structure
A great front delt builder, especially if you don’t have the strength to do pseudo planche push ups yet. These will prepare you nicely towards the harder exercises, by conditioning your shoulders and elbows. Be sure to keep your elbows locked, with an anterior pelvic tilt, to form a strong, hollow-body position. The farther you lean, the more difficult the exercise gets.
Pseudo planche pushups
These are harder than planche leans, but will provide greater results as you are strengthening your shoulders through a larger range of motion, instead of a reduced isometric hold range. Remember to lock your elbows out fully at the top of the movement, and maintain lean at all times. Use a hollow-body position. This can be an effective planche training exercise, if done right.
Rear delt wall pushes
I have written under “maintaining structural balance”, how important balancing the upper body muscles are to a healthy set of shoulders and scapula. Rear delt work is a critical component of maintaining healthy rotator cuffs, as well as preventing injury.
Pike push ups
If you are not yet strong enough to do handstand push ups against a wall, do these, otherwise, you can skip pike push ups altogether. They will act as your main overhead pressing movement. Keeps your legs as straight as you can, shaping your body into an “L” and aim to place your head as far forward as possible at the bottom of the movement. Your hands and head should form a triangle.
Wall walk outs
After the bulk of your overhead pressing is done, you can finish your shoulders and core off with this total body movement. Watch the video to insure proper form.
Wall handstand push ups
The most advanced overhead pressing variation in the list. If these are too hard for you, do the pike push ups instead. If they are too easy, you can use a weight vest, increase the range of motion, or even better in my opinion, start working towards a freestanding handstand push up.
Sets, reps, and rest
Now that we have gone over the exercises and how they should be performed, here’s how you can structure them into a workout routine. Of course, we won’t be using all of the above mentioned exercises as it is up to you to modify the workout according to your level of strength, picking the right progression. In each exercise below, I have included the easier version, followed by the harder one. Pick whichever is best for you.
Exercise 1: Pike push ups/Handstand push ups – 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 8 reps
Exercise 2: Planche leans/Pseudo planche push ups – 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 10 reps
Exercise 3: Wall walkouts – 3 sets – reps self indicated
Exercise 4:Rear delt pushes – 3 sets – reps self indicated
Feel free to take some of these exercises out of the routine, and add them to your own. You do not have to follow this exact routine but it should give you an idea of how an effective shoulder shoulder workout with limited material can be constructed.
Progressive overload for boulder shoulders
To insure constant progress, at least one of the following metrics has to be changed every week/workout session:
- Rest time
- Exercise progression, or weight
This will provide your body with progressive overload, forcing it to adapt and become stronger with every workout session. Be sure to take your time though and progress sensibly. Rushing into too hard of a progression or too much weight too early can needlessly increase the chance of injury.
Isolating with bodyweight
As most bodyweight exercises tend to work several muscle groups together, it can be hard to isolate a particular area of your shoulders with bodyweight strength training. It is however possible to isolate to some degree by using tools like gymnastic rings, or bands. Exercises like ring rear delts flies, band pulls, and more, then become readily available to you. On top of that, you should feel intense burning in the muscle and great hypertrophy afterwards.
If you have access to bands or small weights (even things like homemade sandbags or water bottle packs!), you can do side delt raises. The latter is a great exercise to add to your routine, if you want to optimize your shoulder growth. Movements like pike pushups or handstand push ups will hit most heads of the shoulder to a certain extent, and by no means is isolation crucial to build a satisfying pair of shoulders, but it will definitely help to provide some extra size and round of those delts nicely.
Maintaining structural balance
As you may have noticed, a typical problem among beginners is that they tend to drive too much focus towards the “show” muscles. This means that strength and hypertrophy is being added to the chest and anterior shoulder deltoid, but the routine fails completely in adding strength to the back of the shoulder. To maintain structural balance, one should aim to work the back of the shoulder and the pulling muscles just as much as the pushing muscles on the front of the body.
Without structural balance, after a short while you will inevitably suffer from poor posture, chest tightness, and injuries to the complex joint that is the shoulder.
An easy way to maintain structural balance is simply to utilize pulling and pushing exercises which offset one another. In this way you will keep a healthy balance of strength and hypertrophy in the shoulders. If you have horizontal pushing, perform horizontal rowing. If you have vertical pushing, perform vertical pushing movements, also.
With bodyweight training, a great example of this would be to couple your handstands and L-sits, or push ups with rows.
Best shoulder workout at home – conclusion
We’ve gone over a multitude of exercises you can use at home or in the gym to build bigger and stronger shoulders. We have also spoken of how one can work to isolate a muscle as best as possible with limited material, and why structural balance is important and should be respected within one’s training schedule. If you apply continuous progressive overload, eat enough, and give your body time to recover sufficiently, your shoulders will grow in no time.
If this article was useful to you in any way, please share it along!