Build Stronger Shoulders With Just Five Exercises

Man performs seated shoulder press with dumbbells in a gym
(Image credit: Gary John Norman / Getty Images)

Developing shoulder strength is important if you’re regularly completing upper-body workouts in the gym. The shoulder has the widest range of motion of any joint in your body, which means it’s prone to injuries, so spending time performing exercises for shoulder mobility and shoulder-strengthening workouts will help you avoid any need to see a physio and keep you training regularly. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of fairly simple ways to build shoulder muscle. This workout from certified personal trainer Jorry Randall, known as @jorryfitt to her 70,000 Instagram followers, uses five dumbbell exercises to develop the muscles in your shoulders.

All but one of the exercises are performed kneeling or sitting. This approach ensures you’re not generating momentum for the shoulder exercises from your lower-body muscles. It makes it harder on your shoulders but ultimately more beneficial, and will hopefully encourage you to be more conservative in your choice of weights. 

Randall prescribes 10 to 12 reps for three exercises, but uses drop sets for the seated lateral raise and seated press. This means you work to failure, change your dumbbells for a lighter pair, then work to failure again. For the seated overhead press Randall works to failure a third time with even lighter dumbbells.

Randall suggests doing four rounds of this workout in total, but adjust it to your level. Drop sets are an advanced technique so it’s wise to be cautious if you’re relatively new to the gym.

Once you’ve tried this workout, or if all the weights benches in your gym are taken, try this dumbbell shoulder workout which is done standing up. And to continue the theme of injury prevention, it’s well worth incorporating these rotator cuff exercises into your gym workouts and using this bodyweight shoulder workout which will help you develop strong, healthy joints.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.