Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men 2021

Working out your shoulders either as a warmup or with heavy weights are an important part of your daily fitness routine. Not only will it make you look bigger, but it will even mean that you’re less likely to hurt yourself from regularly lifting weights.

That’s why you need to be smart with the shoulder exercises you choose to perform. Lightweight exercises can help drive blood flow to your rotator cuff muscles thus improving your posture and stabilizing your shoulder joints. Whereas, heavier weights will help build muscle and create strength.

This list of the best shoulder exercises for men will include both, training your muscles and building muscle mass. It’s the best part of both exercise forms and will act as the perfect starting point for those looking to improve the size of their shoulders.

That being said, here are the top 10 best shoulder exercises for men you can try today.

Top 10 Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

IMPORTANT: Always warm up your shoulder muscles and rotator cuff before picking up any heavy weights. It is vital that you do not push yourself while working out your shoulders with higher reps or sets.

Push Ups

Push Ups are considered to be the ultimate form of shoulder workout and is by far the most fundamental exercise for muscle and strength building. It’s one that can be performed anywhere and at any time, the best part – you don’t need any special equipment.

There are many variations of push ups that you can do, but the standard push up is where you get down on all fours and extend your legs. Gently lower your upper body, hold the position for a couple of seconds and then push yourself up with your arms extended. 

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Variations

The variations of push ups that you can perform will target different muscle groups in your upper body and shoulders. Here are a couple of push up variations you can try.

  • Incline Push up – Requires a chair or bench as you’d have to elevate your legs to perform this variation.
  • Pike Push up – This variation is an advanced form of the push up where you will have to adopt an inverted V-shape position.
  • Push-back Push up – Also known as the frog push up, it requires you to fold your knees and move your body into a frog-like position.
  • Cross-body Push ups – This form of exercise involves you lifting your leg and crossing it over the other as you lower your body to the ground. It may be difficult at first, but it’s pretty effective in building shoulder muscles.

Sets: 1-2 Warm up Sets

Repetition: 10-12 (or as needed)

Rest: 30 Seconds

Incline Bench Press

Also known as the incline dumbbell bench press, is an exercise that revolves around targeting your upper pectoral muscles. It’s a rather simple exercise to perform and you will need nothing more than a set of lightweight dumbbells and an incline bench.

To perform this exercise, adjust your bench to a 45-degree angle and lean back. Gently lift up each dumbbell off the floor and bring your arms above your head parallel to each other. As you would in a standard shoulder press, slowly lower your arms to your chest level and raise them up again. 

This exercise will strengthen your upper chest and the muscles connected between your chest and shoulders.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Sets: 2-3 Sets

Repetition: 10-12 Reps

Rest: 50 Seconds between sets

Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is a versatile shoulder exercise that you can perform with either dumbbells, resistance bands or a cable machine. This form of exercise helps develop your lateral deltoid muscles and will greatly improve shoulder mobility.

In order to perform this exercise, stand up straight with your arms by your side. Gently raise your arms so that they are parallel to the ground and are at a 90-degree angle with your body. 

Maintaining your body balance, slowly lower your arms to the side of your body and repeat the same procedure till your set is complete.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Variation

The lateral raise requires you to raise your arms parallel to the ground but 90-degrees to your own body. The variation of the lateral raise is called the front lateral raise which requires you to raise your arms toward the front of your body. 

This exercise is known to engage your anterior deltoids and can be performed with dumbbells, resistance bands or even a cable machine.

Sets: 3 Sets

Repetition: 12 Reps

Rest: 50 Seconds between sets

Overhead Press

The overhead press is also referred to as the overhead shoulder press and is the perfect shoulder exercise if you’re looking to develop shoulder mass and muscle strength. This exercise can be performed with either a set of dumbbells or a barbell and will target your pectoral muscles, deltoids, traps and triceps.

You can perform this exercise by standing with your feet slightly apart, preferably in line with your shoulders and not close together. 

Now, lift your dumbbells or barbell to your shoulder level and raise it over your head. You will have to hold the weight over your head for a few seconds before lowering your arms. 

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Variation

There are variations to the overhead press that you can try as you advance in your routine. One such example is the military press. This involves using your core strength to lift the bar over your head. 

To perform the military press, the only thing that changes from the standard overhead press is that you will need to stand with your feet close together and not apart. 

This helps target a different group of muscles such as your back, shoulders and core.

Sets: 3 Sets

Repetition: 12 Reps

Rest: 50 Seconds between sets

Standing Cable Pulley Fly

The standing cable pulley fly is a shoulder exercise that you can perform if you have a resistance machine or a cable set. This exercise is perfect for those looking to amp up their deltoids and chest muscles along with the anterior of the shoulders.

This exercise requires you to stand naturally with the cables at waist height. Now, raise your arms and hold the cables firmly. Gently extend your arms to the front while placing one leg forward. This will open up your shoulders. 

Hold this posture for a few seconds and gently lower the cable towards the machine.

It’s ideal to stand with your feet apart and knees bent when you perform this exercise so you don’t hurt your back.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Variation

There’s a variation of the standing cable pulley fly known as the reverse cable fly that requires you to stand facing the cable machine. 

Use your left arm to  hold the right cable and the right arm to hold the left cable so both your arms are in a cross over your chest. 

Now, pull the cable with your arms by extending them to the sides. Repeat the same steps until the set is over.

Sets: 4 Sets

Repetition: 12 Reps

Rest: 50 Seconds between sets

Crab Walk

The crab walk is a form of exercise that targets groups of muscles such as your shoulders, core, arms and legs. As the name suggests it requires you to walk like a crab. 

To perform this exercise. Start by sitting on a flat surface, then lower the back of your body to the ground to form a bridge. Now, with the help of your hands, support your upper body and make sure it’s parallel to the ground.

You’re supposed to crawl by moving your hands along with your feet on the ground, the catch – you need to move one hand along with the opposite foot and repeat the same with your other hand and foot.

While this exercise is not a beginners exercise and will take some time to master, the crab walk is a free-hand workout that only only engages your shoulders but even your whole body.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Sets: As required

Repetition: As required

Rest: 10-20 Seconds 

Prone T

The Prone T is another free-hand shoulder exercise that you can perform anywhere. It requires you to lie down flat on your stomach (on a bench) with your spine and head in a straight line. 

Let your arms hang loose by your sides and to perform one repetition, raise your arms parallel the the ground at a 90-degree angle from your body and hold them mid-air for a few seconds.

Now, gently lower your arms and loosen your muscles. This exercise helps build stability and can be performed as a workout exercise before you hit the big weights.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Variation

There is a variant of the Prone T called the Prone Y. This involves raising your arms laterally above your head to form either a V or a Y shape. 

Sets: 1-2 Sets

Repetition: 8-12 Reps

Rest: 20 Seconds between sets

Dumbbell Shoulder Push Press

Another full-body workout, the Dumbbell shoulder push press engages your deltoids, trapezius, quads, glutes and even your core. Quite frankly, this is an extremely easy exercise to perform and is highly recommended for those who are new to the weight training game. It can also be performed either while sitting or when you’re standing.

To perform the dumbbell shoulder push press, start by holding a set of dumbbells at shoulder level. As you exhale, gently bend your knees and lower your torso. Now, stand up and raise the dumbbells over your head. 

Keep doing this until you feel the burn in your shoulders and calves. It’s preferable to start this exercise with small weights first and then gradually increase the weight as your advance.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Sets: 3-4 Sets

Repetition: 10-12 Reps

Rest: 50 Seconds between sets

Cable Face Pull

Cable face pull as the name suggests is an exercise that requires you to pull the cable towards your face from your chest, in an upward motion.

This exercise is known to target and engage your posterior and lateral deltoids, trapezius and teres minor muscle groups.

To perform this exercise, start by standing in front  of your cable machine with your legs slightly apart. Hold the cable at shoulder height and slowly bring in your elbows so the cable reaches your face. Make sure to bend your elbows and move the cable in an upward motion with each repetition.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Sets: 3-4 Sets

Repetition: 12 Reps

Rest: 20-50 Seconds between sets

Straight Arm Circles

This shoulder exercise can be performed free-hand or with lightweight dumbbells. It acts as a good workout for the shoulders and helps stretch your muscles and cool down after an intense workout session. 

To perform straight arm circles, stand straight with your arms parallel to the ground so your body forms a T shape. 

Now ball your fists and begin to rotate your arms in a circular motion. Keep widening the circles until your range of movement is increased. Make sure to change the direction of the circles after each set.

This form is a great technique to improve mobility especially after a tiring workout session. If your end goal is to develop muscle mass in your shoulders, then warming up and cooling off are key components to any workout session.

Here’s a representation of the exercise.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

Sets: 2-4 Sets (each set will be one direction of motion)

Repetition: 10-12

Rest: 10 Seconds between sets

Muscles of the Shoulder and Chest

Shoulder muscles are some of the most important groups to develop on your body, and with the right exercises these muscles grow in size and mass rather easily.

While working out your shoulders, it’s important to apply a varied routine so all the muscles in the shoulders are targeted and engaged.

Best Shoulder Exercises for Men

The most fundamental muscles in your shoulders that you will target with the exercises listed above are:

  • Trapezium – This muscle is located at the back and helps connect your shoulders with your neck. It tends to span all the way till your lower back.
  • Pectoralis Major – More commonly known as Pecs, it’s a large muscle that covers your chest and is connected to your shoulders.
  • Deltoid Muscles – Deltoids consist of a set of 3 muscles that connect your chest and shoulder. They’re situated on top of your shoulder (lateral deltoid), between your upper arms and shoulder blades (posterior deltoid) and the one that runs between your shoulders and chest (anterior deltoid).
  • Serratus Anterior – This muscle is located at the side of your chest running under your armpit.
  • Rhomboid Major – This is a major muscle that connects your shoulder blades with your spine or center of your back. 
  • Rotator Cuff – The rotator cuff is a collection of 4 different muscles that support your arms and shoulders. It helps with articulation and the rotation of your arms in circular motion.

How to get the most out of your shoulder workout?

If you’re looking for stronger shoulder muscles, you will have to follow three important rules.

  • Move through a full range – When you allow your muscles to move through their full range of motion, more muscle fibers are getting engaged and the more fibers you engage, the faster and better your muscles grow.
  • Maintain your tempo – Make sure you maintain the speed of each rep you perform. Make sure that the time spent lowering the weight, pausing at the bottom, lifting it again and pausing at the top are the same.
  • Keep your rest period short – It’s ideal for your muscles to grow because they’re already engaged and a longer cool off period will do more harm than good. A decent rest period would be around 10 seconds for your first and second sets and around 50-60 seconds for your thrid or fourth set.

Takeaway

Now that you know what the best shoulder exercises for men are and the muscle groups they target, make sure you’re always safe when lifting heavy weights and always have a spotter present. 

Do Not push yourself beyond the limit you can take, there’s always tomorrow and the day after. Break down your workout schedule into sections and always warm up first before working out.