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 got surgery on that shoulder, and I’ve managed to play professional basketball without much (comparatively) pain in my shoulder due to doing a variety of shoulder exercises at home that help build strength, mass and mobility.
Although it is relatively simple for anyone to do an effective shoulder workout at home, most people only consider traditional weightlifting exercises when it comes to shoulder training.
Most people know shoulder exercises such as:
- Overhead Press
- Bench Press
- Lateral Raises
- Cable and Band Raises or Presses
- Dumbbell Floor Press
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 below are probably healthier and more effective for your shoulders than the exercises listed above!
Whether it is doing an hour of yoga per day, or utilizing the exercises below along with others in a garage gym, you can easily build muscle mass and develop strong shoulders safely in your own home!
Don’t get me wrong, shoulder exercises at home should be accompanied by some form of other training as well to build a truly complete physical appearance.
However, if you find that heading to the gym is quite a laborious task and you’re looking to make your shoulders a whole lot more physically impressive and stronger, this post is for you!
Keep reading below to see a list of shoulder exercises at home that should give you an aesthetically-sculpted and functionally strong pair of shoulders in no time!
The Best Shoulder Exercises at Home
If you want to build bulletproof, bowling ball shoulders at home, check out this shoulder workout routine:
At-Home Shoulder Exercises – The Warm Up
It is always crucial to perform some warm-up exercises before you subject your shoulders to an intense workout. A proper warm-up is very much known to prevent potential injuries as you begin to train your way to an aesthetic body.
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!
Along with this, warm-ups ensure that your following exercises will be as effective and efficient as they are supposed to be.
Although many people believe “stretching” is a proper warm-up, this couldn’t be
Even if you are only going to be doing 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 be included later in your workout as well. You can check out Calisthenics-101.co.uk for a complete list of calisthenic exercises.
If you can perform a 15-20-minute yoga sequence, I would highly advise this as well!
Warming up properly is not optional, it is necessary to get the most out of your home shoulder training routine!
Shoulder Dislocation Mobility Drill
The phrase itself may be off-putting, yes, but the exercise’s benefits to your shoulders are equally fulfilling. Warming up aside, this drill is well-known for increasing the flexibility and health of your shoulders.
This is the first exercise I do in my at-home shoulder workouts, and I usually do this exercise every day no matter what.
For this exercise, you can use a towel, a long pole (such as a broom), or a stretching strap if you have one available.
Once you have your tool, you are going to move your hands over and back of your head. The less mobile your arms, the wider your grip will need to be. Do 10-25 repetitions of this exercise and move on to the next.
Check out this video to see me performing the shoulder dislocation mobility drill:
Scapular Wall Slides:
After you do shoulder dislocations, the next warm-up exercise for your shoulders you should do are scapular wall slides. Scapular wall slides are a very important exercise for activating your scapula muscles, which usually are dormant due to texting, driving and sitting in a desk at an office job.
The bursae are fluid-filled sacs between muscles and around joints that prevent friction and allows your body’s tissues to slide and glide. However, if a joint is overused, the bursa can overfill- resulting in painful inflammation and immobility.
Doing scapular wall slides at home can help reduce the likelihood of pain from this type of condition.
When you consistently do scapular wall slides, you will notice your posture in your upper back becomes much better, and you might also notice less neck pain if you suffer from it.
To do scapular wall slides, stand with your back against a wall and “goal post” your arms. Then, “slide” your arms up and down the wall like you are doing an overhead press while maintaining a connection between the back of your arms and the wall. Perform 10-20 repetitions and then move on to the next exercise.
Check out this video of scapula wall slides to see how I perform them:
The next shoulder exercise for mobility you should do are shoulder windmills. To do so, lay on your side and form a 90 degree angle between your hips, knees, and ankles. Then, “windmill” your arm over the top of your body. I suggest you do 10 on each arm.
Watch this video to see how to do shoulder windmills:
Lastly, doing one set of 50-100 jumping jacks will pump some blood into your muscles, elevate your heart rate, and oxygenate your body so that you are fully warmed up. Jumping jacks are actually a great shoulder exercise themselves, and they are perfect for the last part of your at home shoulder warm-up.
Believe it or not, jumping jacks are one of the best exercises to lose arm fat and sculpt your shoulders!
Jumping jacks work your biceps, shoulders, and other upper body muscles; while also burning a lot of calories in a small amount of time!
Prone Shoulder Exercises
After you have completed your shoulder warm-up, it’s time to move on to some strengthening.
Since I have a history of shoulder pain and shoulder injury, I always start with prone shoulder exercises since they work the scapula, trapezius (specifically trap-3), and rear delt muscles. I prefer to do these exercises before working any pushing exercises because my shoulders feel much better when I do them in this order.
There are four basic prone shoulder exercises, and they are the I-Y-T-W series.
Each of these exercises work your shoulder muscles slightly differently, and you can perform them one after another.
For these exercises, I suggest you do 10-repetitions each, and hold each exercise at the “top” of the movement for 3 seconds.
Check out this video of me performing prone I-Y-T-W’s to learn how to do them properly:
Although I-Y-T-W’s are the basic prone shoulder exercise, and other useful shoulder exercise you can do at home is prone swimmers. Prone swimmers are both a mobility and a strengthening exercise. When you do this exercise, your goal should be to perform each repetition as slowly as possible.
10 total repetitions should be more than enough!
You can check out this video to see how I do prone swimmers:
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 of your shoulder muscles, and it is also a great core exercise.
There are many advanced variations of the high plank which 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, all you need to do is go to a pushup position, and then hold yourself. Sound easy? Well, after about 30-45 seconds you will quickly be able to tell how your shoulder stability is doing. If you can hold a high plank for 2-minutes, you should try some more advanced variations.
Forearm Side Plank
The forearm side plank is an excellent exercise for shoulder stability, as well as working your oblique and serratus muscles. I suggest you work on holding the forearm side plank for up to 1-minute per side, and then you can work on some more advanced variations.
Downward dog (or downward facing dog) is a traditional yoga pose that is included in nearly every yoga class. It is an excellent hamstring and back stretch, and it is also an excellent isometric shoulder exercise that 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 stress after doing it.
You can 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 really works your strength and mobility at the same time. personally, I still find dolphin pose challenging!
Dolphin pose looks like a mix of a forearm plank and downward facing dog. As with the other isometric shoulder exercises, you can hold this pose for 30-seconds to 2-minutes, as you feel necessary. You can see my attempt at properly holding it here:
The Mass Builders – Pushing Exercises For Your Shoulders at Home
Most people who opted to perform activities at home are usually having little to no equipment at all.
As such, bodyweight exercises are the logical way to do them. It’s been noted that the best way to hit our shoulders while doing bodyweight exercises is through conducting them as a circuit.
After you have done the exercises listed above, it is time to do a few “mass building” shoulder exercises. If you do all of the exercises above properly, you won’t need many different pushing exercises to really feel a quality burn in your shoulders and develop some serious muscle mass in your upper body!
But if they’re done efficiently, these should hit your shoulders quite adequately.
The main pushing exercise for your shoulders at home is the traditional push-up. Push-ups 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 what workout plan should you do. In my opinion, there are a few main ways to get the most out of push-ups.
My favorite push-up 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 push-ups EMOM for 25 minutes!
Another option is using the Tabata Interval Protocol. The Tabata Protocal involves doing 8 sets of 20-seconds of work, followed by 10-seconds of rest. After 4 minutes, your 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 5-repetitions with a 5-seconds eccentric, and do 2-3 sets of this. Eccentric repetitions are another great way to build strength and muscle mass at the same time!
Yoga Pushups are a slightly more advanced and dynamic version of traditional push-ups. Yoga push-ups involve a transition from the downward dog pose to the traditional push-up, and back. For these, I suggest doing simple sets of 10-20 repetitions. If you can perform 5 sets of 20 repetitions of yoga push-ups, I am confident you will have some strong shoulders!
Check out this video of me performing yoga push-ups to see how they are performed:
Concluding Thoughts – The Best Shoulder Exercises at Home
Without needing a gym and equipment, these shoulder exercises are very much a time and money saver! All you need is a little bit of knowledge and a dose of discipline and voila, your shoulders are sculpted to perfection!
If you have serious shoulder pain or shoulder health issues, you should see a medical professional. Shoulder nerve pain can be chronic, and you likely cannot fix an issue like that with only at-home shoulder workouts.
Here is an infographic provided by KemperMedical that will help you understand how whether home shoulder exercises can be enough, or you should see a medical professional:
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.
For more health and fitness tips, you can also check out Body Shape 101, a fitness blog about exercise, fitness, and yoga.