The Best Shoulder Workouts

(Image credit: Unknown)

1 Single-arm kneeling overhead press

Sets 4 Reps 12 each side Rest 90sec

Kneel on one knee, holding a dumbbell just outside your shoulder on the same side as your grounded knee, palm facing inward. Brace your core and press the weight overhead until your arm is straight, keeping your shoulder down. Lower slowly.

2 Single-arm lateral raise

Sets 4 Reps 12 each side Rest 90sec

Hold a dumbbell in one hand and lean forwards from your hips, keeping your chest up. With a slight bend in your elbow, raise the weight to shoulder height, then lower slowly.

3 Kneeling landmine overhead press

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 90sec

Wedge one end of the bar into a corner. Kneel, resting the bar on your upper chest and gripping it with both. Keeping your core braced, press the bar up and out until your arms are straight, then lower slowly.

4 Landmine standing rotation

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 90sec

Still in the above set-up, stand up and raise the bar to shoulder height with your arms straight. Rotate your trunk and hips to take the bar down to one side, keeping your arms straight throughout. Reverse the motion to take the bar to the other side.

5 Reverse shoulder raise

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 90sec

Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a bar or light dumbbells with palms facing. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder-height level, then lower slowly.

Shoulder Workout Tips

Trapdoor your traps

“Some people find it hard to disengage their upper trapezius when training shoulders and that can throw your head forwards, putting the neck under stress,” says Ben Scott, a former professional cricketer turned performance and fat loss specialist ( “If you’re waking up with a sore neck after shoulder day, try creating an angle by leaning forwards when doing lateral raises, holding on to something if necessary.”

Wake the boys up

“If you’re overhead pressing before waking up the shoulder girdle muscles, it’s like a football team playing without a defence or keeper,” says Scott. “Fire up the rotator cuffs with wall angels. Stand flat against a wall with your hands up, elbows tucked back, then bring them above your head.” Do two slow sets of five.

Think posterior

“Plenty of moves hit your front delts, but spare a thought for the poor sods at the back propping your body up,” says Scott. “Many exercises that target the posterior delts also activate the rotators to help align the shoulder joint better. This will also give a fuller look to your shoulders – and allow you to hit the front deltoid even more effectively.”

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.