Home Shoulder Routine

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Home Shoulder Routine

Home Shoulder Routine

There is little dispute on the illusion a wide set of shoulders can portray. If you want to enhance the V-taper, creating the appearance of a wide upper torso girth accompanied by a small waist, shoulder development has a big role to play. Not only are the shoulder muscles important for an aesthetically pleasing body, they are also vitally important for almost all upper body exercises due to the dynamic nature of the shoulder joint. The shoulder routine about to be outlined only requires a set of dumbbells and a bench (although a stable object of similar height could be used), so is suitable for those who train at home with limited equipment.

First exercise: Laying External Rotations (Dumbbell)
Targets: Rotator Cuff
Reps/Sets: 12 reps 2 sets

The rotator cuff is a collection of small muscles; teres minor, infraspinatus, subscapularis and subraspinatus, all responsible for stabilising the shoulder joint. Whilst developing the rotator cuff will not result in any notable physical changes, it will drastically help with injury prevention. Remember, if your shoulders are injured it will have a profound impact on your training! Performing the external rotations at the start of your shoulder routine also ensures the rotator cuff muscles are warmed up for the following shoulder exercises.


  • Lay side ways on the edge of a flat bench, so one half of the body is in contact with the bench.
  • Grasp a dumbbell with the arm which is free, and bend the elbow joint to 90 degrees.
  • Allow the upper arm to run in line with the side of the body which is not in contact with the bench, with the forearm and dumbbell running in front of the body.
  • Whilst keeping the upper arm stationary, raise the dumbbell by rotating at the shoulder joint.
  • Once the dumbbell has been brought up to the height of the upper arm slowly descend to the starting position.
  • Repeat for repetitions.

Second exercise: Lateral Raises
Targets: Lateral (Side) Deltoid Head
Reps/Sets: 8 reps 3 sets

The lateral raise isolates the side shoulder head effectively, and therefore is a prime candidate for a pre-exhausting exercise prior to the shoulder pressing. Form is important here, try ensure the torso remains stationary during the raise to ensure workload solely falls onto the shoulder muscles.


  • Stand upright grasping a set of dumbbells to either side of the body.
  • Whilst maintaining good posture, with a slight bend at the elbow joint, raise the dumbbells to either side of the body.
  • Stop when the upper arms and dumbbells are parallel to the floor, at the same level as the shoulders, mimicking a crucifix position.
  • Maintaining the form, slowly reverse the movement back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for repetitions.

Third exercise: Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Targets: Anterior (Front) Deltoid Head, Lateral (Side) Deltoid Head
Reps/Sets: 8 reps 3 sets

Whilst the isolation raises may be great for targeting one specific head, the shoulder pressing exercises generally recruit the front and side shoulder heads, and additional muscle groups. The shoulder press is great for building strength and overall mass. Performing the lateral raise prior to this exercise should result in the side deltoid head being more fatigued, therefore reducing the chance of the triceps over powering the shoulders.


  • Whilst seated and ensuring good posture, grasp a set of dumbbells, bend the elbow joint, and align the dumbbells level with each shoulder. The arms should now be to either side of torso, with the dumbbells to the side of each shoulder.
  • Maintaining good posture, press the dumbbells over head, ensuring the arms do not flare forward during the press.
  • Once the arms are fully extended over head, the reverse motion should be executed in a controlled manner, back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for repetitions.

Fourth exercise: Bent Over Lateral Raise
Targets: Posterior (Rear) Deltoid Head
Reps/Sets: 8 reps 3 sets

In the quest for completeness we finish the home shoulder routine with a rear shoulder exercise. The rear head of the shoulder does not receive much stimulus from over head pressing movements, and therefore can be neglected, unless specifically targeted. The key to stimulating this small muscle head is to use a moderate weight and focus on the form and feel of the exercise.


  • Grasp two dumbbells to the side of the body.
  • Whilst ensuring the back remains straight and posture is optimal, bend at the hips so the torso is a little higher than parallel to the ground. It is important to maintain a slight bend in the knees.
  • Whilst looking forward, with the torso stationary and maintaining a slight bend at the elbow, raise the dumbbells with the upper arms remaining perpendicular to the torso throughout the raise.
  • Once the dumbbells have been brought up to the level of the shoulders, pause for a moment, and focus on the contraction of the rear shoulder head.
  • Reverse the movement to the starting position.
  • Repeat for repetitions.

So there we have it, a simple shoulder workout which can be performed at home in under 40 minutes. If you have any tips for training your shoulders or working out at home, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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