A Bodyweight Shoulder Workout For Healthy, Strong Joints

Man performs plank shoulder tap
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Every dedicated gym-goer knows about leg day and chest day, but you won’t hear many talk about shoulder day. It’s a sign that the shoulders don’t get the attention they deserve.

That’s the opinion of shoulder specialist Carlos Cobiella, a London-based consultant  orthopaedic surgeon. He treats professional athletes and regularly puts training programmes together for clients, and he tells Coach that the shoulders are often neglected. 

“Working out your shoulders isn’t just good for aesthetic reasons,” says Cobiella. “As the most mobile joints in the body, the shoulders are responsible for many different muscle actions so it’s crucial to protect the shoulder joint with strength exercises.”

The shoulders are made up of three main muscles: front deltoid, side or lateral deltoid, and rear deltoid. “These are the primary muscles involved in shoulder strength and power,” says Cobiella. “There is no shortage of shoulder exercises, and you don’t need weights to build strength and muscle.”

Here, Cobiella has put together a shoulder workout that targets all three of the big shoulder muscle groups, and it can be integrated into any workout programme. 

Bodyweight Shoulder Workout

Train your shoulders at least twice a week with a minimum of a day’s rest between workouts. If the allotted reps below are too high, start with six reps and work your way up over time. Aim for three sets per move, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets, but again, adjust as necessary. 

1 Press-up pike

Man performs pike press-up

(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / Michael Edwards)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 30-60sec

Start in a press-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Push your hips up and back so your body forms an upside-down V. Bend your elbows to lower until the top of your head is as close to the floor as possible, then push back up until your arms are extended. 

2 Press-up handstand

Man performs handstand against wall

(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 30-60sec

Facing away from a wall, place your hands on the floor and kick your feet up to adopt a handstand position against the wall. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes. Bend your elbows to lower, then push back up. This is a challenging move: lower yourself as far as you can, even if that’s only a centimetre or two! 

3 Spider walk

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 30-60sec

Facing away from a wall, place your hands on the floor and kick your feet up to adopt a handstand position against the wall. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes. Simultaneously walk your hands away from the wall and your feet down the wall. Once you are in a push-up position, walk your feet back up the wall. 

4 Plank shoulder tap

Woman performs plank shoulder tap

(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / Oleg Breslavtsev)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 30-60sec

Start in a press-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, then lift one hand and tap the opposite shoulder, moving your hips as little as possible. Return your hand to the floor, then repeat with the other hand, alternating hands with each rep.

5 Rock the plank

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 30-60sec

Start in a press-up position with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, push your body back towards your heels so that your glutes touch your heels – this position is a little like a child’s pose in yoga but with your knees off the floor. Return to the start and repeat.

6 Walking plank

Man performs walking plank

(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / Ziga Plahutar)

Sets 3 Reps 12 each side Rest 30-60sec

Start in a plank position on your forearms. Lift one arm, place the hand palm-down on the floor under your shoulder and extend your arm to push your body up. Repeat on the other side to finish in a press-up position. Reverse the movement under control. Alternate which arm you start each rep with.


More Shoulder Workouts

Lucy Gornall
Contributor

Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.