Home Workout For Shoulder Strength: Small Dumbbells, Big Shoulders

Man performs shoulder press exercise at home
(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

If there’s one area of the body that doesn’t require heavy weights to strengthen, it’s the shoulders. In fact, the best shoulder workouts should make liberal use of dumbbell exercises, which are a smart way to target the different muscles around the joint with less risk of injury.

Barbell or cable machine exercises are of course useful for working the shoulders, but for home workouts picking up a set of dumbbells will suffice. You’ll still be able to lift challenging weights but will put less pressure on your rotator cuff using dumbbells, which allow you to change your grip position more than with a barbell.

When picking out a set of the best dumbbells for your home shoulder workouts it is smart to opt for lighter weights than you’d use for training other parts of the body. With moves like the lateral raise or overhead press it’s better to move slowly with control to keep the right muscles under tension, and you’ll be amazed at how heavy even light dumbbells feel by the end of a set.

This home workout targets multiple parts of the shoulders, including the stabiliser muscles of your rotator cuff, and it works the delts from three angles so they grow in every direction. It will help you build broad, strong shoulders with less risk of injury.

For another shoulder session, try the fourth workout in this dumbbell workout plan.

Home Workout For Shoulder Strength

Start with the push press: do 10 to 15 reps over 30 seconds, then “rest” for 30 seconds with the weights held overhead. Repeat once for a two-minute set. Rest properly for two minutes, and do the whole thing twice more. Next, do 12 reps each of moves 2A, 2B and 2C without resting, then rest for one minute and repeat three times. If your shoulders feel toasty at the end, you’ve done it right.

1 30/30 push press

Push press shoulder exercise performed in a home

(Image credit: Glen Burrows. Model: Freddie Abrahams @WAthletic)

Sets 3 Time 2min Rest 2min

For the working time, alternate between doing 10 to 15 reps over 30 seconds, then holding the dumbbells overhead for 30 seconds.

Hold the weights by your shoulders, then lower into a quarter squat. Push up through your heels and press the weights overhead, then lower them under control. The “hold” is the challenging part, so use a weight that allows you to complete the move easily. During the hold, keep your midsection tight and brace your glutes to keep your lower back aligned and safe.

2A Lateral raise

Lateral raise exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows. Model: Freddie Abrahams @WAthletic)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Start with the weights at your sides, then raise them to the sides, keeping them in line with your body and keeping your thumbs pointing slightly downwards. Stop just shy of shoulder-level to keep the tension on your delts.

2B Front raise

Front raise shoulder exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows. Model: Freddie Abrahams @WAthletic)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Switch the focus to your front delts. Starting with the weights in front of you, slowly bring them up to just below eye level. Pause at the top, then lower slowly, keeping the weights under control.

2C Reverse flye

Reverse flye shoulder exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows. Model: Freddie Abrahams @WAthletic)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 60sec

With a slight bend in your arms, bend forward at the waist – back straight, please – and bring the dumbbells up as if you were flapping your wings. Bring them back to the centre to complete the rep.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.

With contributions from