Doing shoulder exercises at home can be as effective as training in a gym, and you can easily improve the strength and health of your shoulders with at-home shoulder workouts!
Back in 2012, I tore my labrum in my left shoulder.
I have never had surgery on that shoulder, and I’ve managed to play professional basketball without much (comparatively) pain in my shoulder due to doing various at-home shoulder exercises that help build strong, healthy shoulders.
Although it is relatively simple for anyone to do an effective shoulder workout at home, many people only consider traditional weightlifting exercises when it comes to shoulder training.
Most people know shoulder exercises such as:
However, there is a lot more you can do in your shoulder routine than these traditional exercises!
You can easily break free from this routine regimen without heading to a gym at all, and there are efficient ways to sculpt your shoulders right in the very confines of your own home!
In fact, for most people, the at-home shoulder exercises I will show you are probably healthier and more effective for your shoulders than the types of exercises listed above!
You can easily build strong, healthy shoulders with minimal equipment and in any room in your house.
Read below for a list of shoulder exercises you can do at home that can give you a sculpted and strong set of shoulders!
Warm Up Exercises for Shoulders
It is crucial to perform some warm-up exercises before starting an intense workout.
A proper warm-up can prevent potential injuries and improve the health of your shoulders.
Injuries such as frozen shoulder can be managed with warm-up exercises for the most part.
The precise cause of this condition is unknown, but doing an adequate warm-up before you do additional shoulder exercises in your home is definitely one of the best ways to manage the condition!
Additionally, warm-ups ensure that your following exercises will be as effective and efficient as they should be.
Even if you only do a shoulder workout in your house, you should still begin with a proper warm-up to increase your mobility.
Light calisthenics are an excellent option, even though intense calisthenics might also be included later in your workout.
You can check out Calisthenics-101.co.uk for a complete list of calisthenic exercises.
Warming up is not optional. It is necessary to get the most out of your home shoulder workout routine!
Here are some of the best shoulder warm-up exercises:
Shoulder Dislocation Mobility Drill
The Shoulder Dislocation Mobility Drill is a highly effective exercise for promoting healthy and flexible shoulders.
Despite its intimidating name, this drill is simple and can easily be incorporated into any at-home shoulder workout routine.
To perform this exercise, all you need is a towel, a long pole like a broomstick, or a stretching strap if you have one available.
Begin by gripping your tool and moving your hands over and behind your head.
If your arms are less mobile, you may need to widen your grip.
Aim to complete 10-25 repetitions of this exercise before moving on to the next one.
I highly recommend making the Shoulder Dislocation Mobility Drill a daily part of your shoulder workout routine.
It’s the first exercise I do in my own routine, and I have found it to be incredibly beneficial for my shoulder health.
Check out the video linked below for a demonstration of how to perform this exercise correctly.
Scapular Wall Slides
Scapular wall slides are an essential warm-up exercise to do following shoulder dislocations.
Scapular Wall Slides activate your scapula muscles, which can become dormant due to long hours of texting, driving, and sitting at an office desk.
When the bursae around the joints become overfilled due to overuse, it can cause painful inflammation and immobility.
The bursae are fluid-filled sacs between muscles and around joints that prevent friction and allow your body’s tissues to slide and glide.
Scapular wall slides can help reduce the likelihood of pain from this type of condition.
Consistently doing scapular wall slides can also lead to improved posture in the upper back and less neck pain.
To perform scapular wall slides at home, stand with your back against a wall and position your arms in a “goal post” shape.
Then, “slide” your arms up and down the wall as if you are doing an overhead press while keeping your arms in contact with the wall. Aim to complete 10-20 repetitions before moving on to the next exercise.
If you’re unsure how to properly execute scapular wall slides, check out this video demonstration showing the correct technique.
Adding scapular wall slides to your shoulder warm-up routine can help improve your shoulder health and reduce the risk of pain and injury.
I highly recommend adding windmills to your workout routine to further improve your shoulder mobility.
This exercise is simple and effective in increasing the range of motion in your shoulder joints.
To perform shoulder windmills, start by lying on your side and forming a 90-degree angle between your hips, knees, and ankles.
Then, slowly “windmill” your arm over the top of your body, reaching as far back as you can without causing any discomfort.
Repeat the motion for 10 repetitions on each arm.
Check out this instructional video for a visual guide on correctly executing shoulder windmills.
Adding this exercise to your routine can help improve your overall shoulder health and increase your mobility.
For an effective and complete at-home shoulder warm-up, I recommend finishing with 50-100 jumping jacks.
Jumping jacks increase blood flow to your muscles, elevates your heart rate, and oxygenates your body, leaving you fully warmed up and ready for your workout.
In addition to their cardiovascular benefits, jumping jacks are great for your shoulders.
Jumping jacks work your biceps, shoulders, and other upper body muscles while burning a significant amount of calories in a short period.
If you want to sculpt your shoulders and lose arm fat, jumping jacks are an excellent addition to your exercise routine.
Incorporating this exercise as the final component of your at-home shoulder warm-up is a great way to prepare your body for a productive and effective workout.
Prone Shoulder Exercises
Once you have completed your warm-up, you can start doing some exercises to strenghten your rotator cuff and shoulders..
If you have a history of shoulder pain or injury, I recommend starting with prone shoulder exercises.
Prone shoulder exercises target the scapula, trapezius (specifically trap-3), and rear delt muscles, helping to improve their strength and stability.
I also recommend doing prone shoulder exercises before any pushing exercises like the bench press or overhead press because it helps your shoulders move better and reduces the risk of injury.
Strengthening these muscles is crucial for improving your overall shoulder health and avoiding any future injuries.
Here are some of the best prone shoulder exercises for shoulder health:
If you want to strengthen your shoulder muscles, I recommend incorporating the four basic prone shoulder exercises known as the I-Y-T-W series.
The I-Y-T-W series is comprised of four different exercises, each targeting different muscles in your shoulders. Here’s a breakdown of the muscles worked in each exercise:
- Prone I Exercise: The prone I exercise targets your rotator cuff muscles, which are essential for maintaining shoulder stability and proper alignment. Specifically, the I exercise works your supraspinatus muscle.
- Prone Y Exercise: The prone Y exercise works your middle and lower trapezius muscles, which help to stabilize your scapulae and improve your posture.
- Prone T Exercise: The prone T exercise targets your rhomboid muscles, which help to retract your scapulae and improve your posture.
- Prone W Exercise: The prone W exercise works your posterior deltoid muscles, which are responsible for shoulder abduction and external rotation.
By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can ensure that you’re targeting all of the necessary muscles in your shoulders to improve their strength, stability, and mobility.
Remember to perform each exercise with proper form and adjust the intensity as needed.
To perform these exercises, I suggest doing 10 repetitions of each exercise and holding each exercise at the top of the movement for 3 seconds.
This will help to activate and strengthen your shoulder muscles more effectively.
For a visual guide on correctly performing these exercises, check out this instructional video of me performing prone I-Y-T-W’s.
Remember to maintain proper form throughout the exercises and adjust the intensity as needed.
Incorporating the I-Y-T-W series into your routine can help to improve your shoulder strength, stability, and mobility. So, give your shoulders the attention they deserve and start incorporating these exercises into your workout routine today!
In addition to the I-Y-T-W series, another beneficial shoulder exercise you can do at home is prone swimmers.
Prone swimmers are a highly effective exercise for improving shoulder health in several ways. Here’s how:
- Strengthens the Rotator Cuff: The prone swimmers exercise targets your rotator cuff muscles, which are crucial for maintaining shoulder stability and proper alignment. By strengthening these muscles, you can reduce the risk of shoulder injuries and pain.
- Improves Shoulder Mobility: Prone swimmers are a great shoulder mobility exercise. The swimming motion helps to stretch and mobilize your shoulder muscles, improving their flexibility and range of motion.
- Activates the Posterior Chain: The swimming motion also engages the muscles in your upper back, including your rhomboids and middle trapezius. These muscles help to stabilize your scapula and improve your posture, reducing the risk of shoulder injuries and pain.
By incorporating prone swimmers into your shoulder workout routine, you can help to improve your shoulder health in various ways.
Remember to focus on slow and controlled movements to engage your shoulder muscles effectively and maintain proper form throughout the exercise.
Your goal should be to perform each repetition as slowly as possible to ensure you engage your shoulder muscles effectively.
Aim to complete 10 repetitions in total.
Check out this video demonstration to see how to correctly perform prone swimmers:
Remember to maintain proper form throughout the exercise and adjust the intensity as needed.
By incorporating prone swimmers into your routine, you can improve your shoulder mobility and strength, which is essential for maintaining overall shoulder health.
Isometric Shoulder Exercises to Do at Home
After you do your prone exercises, I suggest you do some isometrics.
Isometrics are great for improving your shoulder stability and strength, and they can really help you improve how much weight you can lift on heavier exercises.
The most basic isometric exercise for your shoulder is the high plank.
The high plank works nearly all your shoulder muscles and is also a great alternative to crunches for helping you get a defined core.
Many advanced variations of the high plank involve different levels of shoulder and core stability, but you should master the traditional high plank before trying anything else.
To do the high plank, you only need to go to a pushup position and then hold yourself.
Well, after about 30-45 seconds, you can quickly tell how your shoulder stability is doing.
If you can hold a high plank for 2 minutes, you should try more advanced variations.
Forearm Side Plank
The forearm side plank is a highly effective exercise for improving shoulder stability while also engaging your oblique and serratus muscles.
This exercise is essential for anyone looking to strengthen their core and improve their overall shoulder health.
I suggest you hold the forearm side plank for up to 1-minute per side, and then you can work on more advanced variations.
Downward dog (or downward facing dog) is a traditional yoga pose included in nearly every yoga class.
Downward dog is an excellent hamstring stretch, back stretch, and isometric shoulder exercise you can do at home.
The great part about doing downward dog is that it will also help you loosen up the entire posterior chain of your body.
You will notice that it will help you have better posture, and you will also probably notice that you feel refreshed and a bit less stressed after doing it.
Feel free to move side-to-side or peddle your feet while in down-dog, but maintain a firm hold through your shoulder girdle.
You can stay in this pose for up to a minute or two as you feel comfortable.
Check out this video of me moving around and finding strength and calmness in down-dog:
Dolphin pose is a challenging shoulder isometric exercise that works your strength and mobility simultaneously.
Personally, I find dolphin pose challenging!
The Dolphin pose resembles a mix of a forearm plank and a downward dog.
As with the other isometric shoulder exercises, you can hold this pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, as necessary.
You can see my attempt at properly holding dolphin pose here:
Front-Delt Shoulder Exercises at Home
When it comes to performing shoulder exercises at home, bodyweight exercises are an excellent option, especially if you have little to no equipment available.
By incorporating these exercises into a circuit, you can efficiently work your shoulders and get a total-shoulder workout.
After completing the abovementioned exercises, it’s time to focus on some front-delt shoulder exercises.
By performing these exercises correctly, you can achieve a quality burn in your shoulders and develop significant muscle mass in your upper body.
While it’s true that you don’t need many different pushing exercises to work your shoulders effectively, it’s still essential to include front-delt exercises to target the front part of your shoulders.
Incorporating these front-delt exercises into your circuit can help to improve your overall shoulder strength and size, resulting in a well-rounded upper body.
Remember to maintain proper form throughout each exercise and adjust the intensity as needed.
The main front-delt exercise for your shoulders at home is the traditional pushup.
Pushups are an incredible exercise.
In fact, it could be the only pushing exercise you do, and there would be no problem with that!
When you get to this part of your at-home shoulder workout, the main consideration is your workout plan.
There are a few main ways to get the most out of pushups.
My favorite pushup workout is Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) training.
As the title goes, you will do a certain amount of repetitions, “Every Minute on the Minute,” for a certain amount of minutes.
In the past, I have done even up to 25 pushups EMOM for 25 minutes!
Another option is using the Tabata Interval Protocol.
The Tabata Protocol involves doing eight sets of 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
After 4 minutes, the workout will be done, and your chest, shoulders, and triceps will be shaking!
Lastly, you can perform controlled eccentric reps with a timed eccentric phase.
For example, you could start with five repetitions with a 5-second eccentric and do 2-3 sets of this.
Eccentric repetitions are another great way to build strength and muscle mass simultaneously!
There are a variety of other ways to improve your pushup strength, but these are some of the best options you can include in your home-shoulder workout.
Yoga Pushups are a slightly more advanced and dynamic version of traditional pushups. Yoga pushups involve transitioning from the downward dog pose to the traditional pushup and back.
For these, I suggest doing simple sets of 10-20 repetitions.
If you can perform five sets of 20 repetitions of yoga pushups, I am confident you have some strong shoulders!
Check out this video of me performing yoga pushups to see how they are performed:
Concluding Thoughts – How to Strength Your Shoulders at Home
Strengthening your shoulders at home is an excellent way to save time and money, as you don’t need a gym or equipment to do these exercises.
With a bit of knowledge and discipline, you can sculpt your shoulders to perfection from the comfort of your home.
However, if you experience serious shoulder pain or have shoulder health issues, it’s crucial to seek medical advice and consider going through rotator cuff repair.
Chronic shoulder nerve pain and other severe conditions often require more than just at-home shoulder workouts to address properly.
Although I have a “serious” shoulder health issue and have never needed one, you may opt to support yourself with a shoulder brace to help you with your shoulder exercises while you are improving your shoulder strength and stability.
Remember to always listen to your body and adjust the intensity of your workouts as needed.
With a consistent and balanced approach, you can improve your shoulder strength and health over time.