une femme fait un exercice epaule


Shoulder exercise: our selection of exercises for strong shoulders

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Are you looking for effective exercises for strong shoulders? This article is designed to help you strengthen your shoulders with targeted exercises. We cover everything from warm-ups to advanced workout programs.


Discover the importance of warming up to prevent injuries and maximize your performance. Learn the best exercises with and without equipment to develop your deltoids. Incorporate back exercises for optimal muscular balance.


Ready to transform your shoulders? This article is your complete guide to strong, balanced shoulders. Follow our advice and get started today!


Understanding shoulder anatomy

The different shoulder muscles

The shoulder is a complex of muscles that allows a wide range of motion. Knowing these muscles is essential to effectively target your workouts.

Anterior, middle and posterior deltoids

The deltoids are divided into three parts:

  • Anterior deltoid: Located in the front, it is crucial for pushing movements.
  • Medial deltoid: Placed on the side, it is used during lateral elevations.
  • Posterior Deltoid: At the back, it plays a key role in pulling movements.

Rotator cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles:

  • Supraspinous
  • Infraspinatus
  • Small circle
  • Subscapular


These muscles stabilize the shoulder and allow rotational movements. Neglecting the rotator cuff can lead to injury, so incorporate targeted exercises into your routine.

Role of the shoulders in everyday movements

Strong shoulders aren't just for the gym. They are essential in many daily activities.

Examples of Activities Requiring Strong Shoulders

  • Carrying heavy bags: Whether it's shopping or a backpack, strong shoulders make the task easier.
  • Lifting objects overhead: Placing a box on a shelf or changing a light bulb requires strength and stability.
  • Sports and leisure: Swimming, tennis, or even yoga put a lot of strain on the shoulders.


Having concrete shoulders will help you perform these tasks more easily and reduce the risk of injury. So, don't underestimate the importance of strengthening your shoulders!

The importance of warming up

Prevent Injuries

Imagine yourself in the middle of a workout, ready to lift weights, and suddenly a searing pain stops you in your tracks. Does this remind you of anything? This is what can happen without a good warm-up. Warming up is crucial to prepare your muscles and joints for exercise, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

Shoulder-specific warm-up techniques

Before starting your session, it is essential to properly prepare your shoulders. Here are some effective warm-up techniques.

Arm rotation

Arm rotations are simple but effective:

Stand with your arms outstretched.

Make circles with your arms, starting small and then getting bigger and bigger.

Repeat for about a minute each way.

Dynamic stretches

Dynamic stretches are great for increasing flexibility and blood circulation:

  • Front and side raises: Raise your arms in front of you, then to the sides, in a controlled manner.
  • Band warm-up: Use a band to simulate pushing and pulling movements.


Incorporating these exercises into your warm-up routine only takes a few minutes but makes a big difference. Not only will you be ready to attack your workout, but you'll also protect your shoulders from potential injury. So, take the time to warm up properly and give your shoulders the attention they deserve!

Une femme fait un exercice épaule

Exercises to strengthen the shoulders

Exercises with equipment

Using equipment such as dumbbells or bars allows you to vary the exercises and effectively target the shoulder muscles.

Military press

The military press is a classic exercise for developing shoulder strength and mass.

  • Hold a barbell at chest height, palms facing forward.
  • Push the bar up until your arms are fully extended.
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.


This movement primarily works the anterior and middle deltoids, while engaging the triceps and upper chest. It helps build powerful and well-defined shoulders.

Lateral elevations

Lateral raises are ideal for targeting the middle deltoids and giving nice width to the shoulders.

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides.
  • Raise your arms out to the sides until they are at shoulder height.
  • Come back down slowly without touching the body.


For variety, you can do front raises or dumbbell raises while seated. These exercises isolate the deltoids and help balance the shoulder musculature.

Bodyweight exercises

No equipment? No problem. Bodyweight exercises can also effectively strengthen your shoulders.

Push-ups in pike position

Push-ups in the pike position mainly work the anterior deltoids and trapezius.

  • Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  • Raise your hips toward the ceiling to form an inverted “V.”
  • Bend your elbows to lower your head toward the floor, then push back.
  • Keep your back straight and engage your abs to stabilize the body. This exercise is perfect for strengthening the shoulders and improving stability.

Bench Dips

Bench dips are excellent for working the anterior deltoids and triceps.

  • Place your hands on the edge of a bench, feet on the floor, legs straight.
  • Lower your body by bending your elbows until your arms are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Come back up by pushing on your palms.


To increase the difficulty, place your feet on another bench or add weight on your knees.

These exercises, with or without equipment, will help you develop strong, balanced shoulders. Incorporate them into your routine for optimal results!

Integrate back exercises for balanced shoulders

Why work your back with your shoulders

You might think that strengthening the shoulders is enough to achieve a well-developed upper body. Think again ! It is essential to incorporate back exercises to create muscular balance and prevent injuries.

Explanation of muscle synergy

The shoulders and back often work together. A strong back stabilizes your shoulders and improves your posture. Additionally, well-balanced shoulders reduce the risk of muscle imbalance, which can lead to pain and injury. For example, when you do military presses, your back muscles stabilize your body, allowing for better execution of the movement.

Additional exercises for the back

To achieve this balance, add specific back exercises to your routine.

Horizontal draw

The horizontal pull-up is an excellent exercise for developing back width and thickness.

  • Sit at the horizontal pull-up machine with your feet firmly planted.
  • Grip the bar with an overhand grip (palms down).
  • Pull the bar toward your abdomen, squeezing your shoulder blades.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.


For variety, try pulling with a supinated grip (palms up) or using dumbbells for horizontal pulls with one arm at a time. This also engages the posterior deltoids and rhomboids, contributing to balanced muscle development.

Pullover with dumbbell

The dumbbell pullover is perfect for working both the back and shoulder muscles.

  • Lie on a bench with a dumbbell held in both hands above your chest.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping your arms slightly bent.
  • Return the dumbbell to the starting position above your chest.


This movement uses the latissimus dorsi, pectorals and deltoids. Be sure to maintain good technique to avoid overloading the shoulders.

By incorporating these back exercises into your routine, you will not only strengthen your shoulders but also your entire upper body. This helps you avoid muscle imbalances and maintain good posture, essential for optimal performance in the weight room and in everyday life.

Shoulder Workout Programs

Beginner Program

If you are new to bodybuilding, it is important to start with simple and effective exercises to gradually strengthen your shoulders.

Frequency and progression

As for frequency, train your shoulders twice a week to allow sufficient recovery.

In terms of progression, start with light weights and gradually increase the load every two weeks.

Example program:

  • Dumbbell military press: 3 sets of 12 repetitions
  • Lateral raises: 3 sets of 15 repetitions
  • Push-ups in pike position: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Bench Dips: 3 sets of 12 reps


Remember, the key is to focus on correct form rather than weight. This will prevent injuries and ensure continued progress.

Advanced program

For experienced exercisers, an advanced program should include a variety of exercises and increased intensity to stimulate muscle growth.

Intensity and periodization

Increase the weights and reduce the number of repetitions to stimulate the muscles more intensely. 

Alternate between periods of high intensity and recovery to avoid overtraining.

Example program:

  • Barbell military press: 4 sets of 8 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Front Raises: 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Chin pull-up on the bar: 4 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Dumbbell bird: 4 sets of 15 repetitions
  • Superset: Pike position push-ups and bench dips: 3 sets of 10 repetitions each exercise


This advanced program incorporates supersets to increase intensity and challenge muscles in different ways. Be sure to warm up thoroughly before each session and include rest days to maximize recovery.

By following these programs adapted to your level, you can develop powerful and balanced shoulders. Incorporate these exercises into your routine and adjust the load based on your progress for optimal results.

Nutritional Tips for Muscle Recovery

Foods rich in protein

Muscle recovery requires above all a diet rich in protein. These nutrients are essential for repairing and building muscle tissue after an intense workout.

List and benefits for muscle repair

  • Chicken and turkey: Low in fat and high in protein, these white meats are perfect for fueling your muscles.
  • Oily fish: Salmon and mackerel are not only rich in protein, but also omega-3s, which reduce inflammation.
  • Eggs: A complete protein source, eggs contain all the essential amino acids needed for muscle repair.
  • Dairy: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and milk offer protein and probiotics for better digestion.
  • Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas and beans are excellent vegetarian options, rich in protein and fiber.


Including these foods in your diet will help maximize recovery and promote muscle growth.

Hydration and rest

Hydration and rest are just as crucial as nutrition for optimal recovery.

The importance of hydration

Water is essential for transporting nutrients to the muscles, allowing for optimal recovery and growth. In addition, it facilitates the elimination of toxins produced during exercise, thus contributing to the prevention of aches and injuries. It is recommended to drink at least 2 liters of water per day to maintain good hydration levels, and this amount should be increased during intensive training.

It's important to hydrate regularly throughout the day, not just during exercise sessions. Indeed, waiting until you are thirsty to drink is often a sign that the body is already dehydrated. For optimal hydration, it is also advisable to include drinks containing electrolytes, especially after particularly intense sessions. These drinks help replace mineral salts lost through sweating and maintain the body's water balance. 

The importance of rest

Sleep plays a fundamental role in the process of bodybuilding and improving physical performance. It is during sleep that your body repairs and rebuilds itself, including regenerating muscle fibers damaged during training. A good night's sleep promotes the release of growth hormones, essential for recovery and muscle building. To optimize these processes, it is recommended to sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night.

By combining a protein-rich diet with adequate hydration and quality sleep, you put the odds on your side for effective and rapid muscle recovery. These simple but essential tips will help you come back stronger with every workout.

Une personne fait un exercice epaule


Strengthening your shoulders is essential for better performance and injury prevention. Follow programs adapted to your level, integrating exercises with and without equipment. Remember the importance of warming up and nutrition for optimal recovery.

Incorporate back exercises for balanced muscle development. Combine this with a protein-rich diet and good hydration to maximize your results. Every effort counts to achieve your bodybuilding goals.

Explore other articles to diversify your workouts and discover additional nutritional tips. Continue to educate yourself to improve your performance and well-being. Your bodybuilding journey has only just begun!

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