5 Dumbbell exercises for shoulders

5 Dumbbell exercises for shoulders

Inspired by Izzy Jeff's article on how to build boulder shoulders? You're in luck, as we now bring you some fantastic dumbbell exercises to add to your shoulder-building repertoire. 

If you want bigger, stronger shoulders, dumbbell exercises are great. Either add them into your normal gym routine, or fashion them into an intense home workout. Be prepared for fast gains –– your shoulders are about to be tested to the max!

Shoulder muscles can be divided into three areas – anterior (front), lateral (side) and posterior (rear). These five shoulder exercises cover all muscle areas, and guarantee to build up serious shoulder mass.


This exercise works the anterior and lateral deltoids, as well as your triceps and upper chest, making this a compound movement. Performing these standing also engages your core.

  • Stand and hold two dumbbells at shoulder level, palms facing.
  • Exhale, and press the dumbbells straight up until your arms are fully extended.
  • Squeeze for a moment at the top, then slowly lower down to starting position, and repeat.



The slower you perform lateral raises, the more effective they are.

  • Stand and hold dumbbells beside your hips with palms facing, hips and knees slightly bent.
  • Raise straight arms to the side until elbows are shoulder height.
  • Pause, lower and repeat.



Front raises are the best way to work the anterior deltoids if you really feel they need extra work. Low weight and high reps give the best muscle-loading results.

  • Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing.
  • Lift the dumbbells forwards with palms continuing to face until your arms are almost parallel to the floor.
  • Pause for a second, lower back down, then repeat. Try single arms as a variation.



You can also perform shoulder shrugs with barbells and cables, or do one side at a time.

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your torso.
  • Exhale, then lift the dumbbells by raising your shoulders as high as possible. Make sure you don’t use the biceps to help lift the dumbbells.
  • Pause, lower back down and repeat



Working both shoulders and back, this is one of the best exercises for targeting the posterior deltoid:

  • Sit on the end of a bench with dumbbells behind your calves.
  • Bend at the waist to pick up the dumbbells with palms facing each other.
  • Keep your torso forward and arms slightly bent, exhale and lift the dumbbells out to the side until your arms are parallel to the ground.
  • Hold for a second, then slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position and repeat.



The Author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for PayasUgym. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.


Sasha B.
22 December 2015

Sasha B.

I don't really want big shoulders as mine are quite large anyway, but I do think it's important to keep every part of your body strong, so I like to do shoulder presses to keep myself toned.

Clare R.
21 December 2015

Clare R.

nice clear instructions, very helpful. I will be using light weights but it still works.

Frank H.
20 December 2015

Frank H.

I've yet to start focusing on my shoulders properly but it's definitely in the plan for the new year - this article will really help!

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