8 Shoulder Exercises for Strong and Injury-Free Shoulders

When it comes to shoulder workouts, most people immediately think of classic fitness exercises like bench press or lateral raises. These movements are often favored by those looking to sculpt their back and gain muscle mass. However, there are many other exercises that can effectively target the shoulders and help maintain the health of this complex joint, which consists of the scapula, clavicle, and humerus.

We asked Nicolas Veret, manager of Workshop Gymnasium Paris, to create a specific upper body and shoulder workout to provide a better understanding of how to effectively train this area. By improving the stability of the shoulder joint and strengthening the surrounding muscles, you can not only enhance performance but also achieve aesthetic goals if that’s what you’re aiming for.

Whether you’re an athlete looking to develop your shoulders for a sport like tennis, boxing, or golf, or simply want to regain mobility in a part of your body that is often neglected (especially if you spend all day sitting in front of a computer), the following shoulder exercises are for you.

3 Warm-up Exercises for Shoulder Preparation

First important point: we always start with some activation movements to warm up the shoulders. Nicolas Veret emphasizes the importance of mobility at the beginning of the training to prevent injuries and ensure quality movements when adding weights. “The goal is to first seek controlled large ranges of motion and then transfer that active range into our movements through sports practice.”

For example, the coach suggests starting the session with modified push-ups. In a plank position on your hands, keep your arms straight and only mobilize your shoulder blades, seeking the greatest range of motion in your movement. As you lower down, your shoulder blades spread apart and the upper part of your back hollows. As you come back up, your shoulder blades come together and your back rounds. If you find limited range of motion or the exercise seems too difficult, you can perform the same movement in a plank position on your forearms.

The Swimmer Hover
This second exercise is performed lying on your stomach. Lift both arms above your head forwards while keeping the rest of your body on the ground (including chest, pelvis, and legs). Your palms should be facing the floor. With your arms, you will draw the largest circle possible backwards by rotating your shoulders. At the end of the movement, your hands should be at the bottom of your back with palms facing the sky. This exercise specifically activates the rotator cuff.

Prone TYIW
Maintain the same position – lying on your stomach – for this 4-in-1 exercise. Here, too, you are lifting your arms off the ground. Make fists and keep your thumbs up. Start by lifting your arms out to the sides to form a “T”, then gradually bring them forward to position them in a “Y” in a second step. Continue the movement to bring your arms forward along your ears. You got it, now you’re in an “I”. Finally, bend your arms, spreading your elbows to finish in a “W”. Repeat the movement several times. This should quickly warm up your shoulders.

Effective Shoulder Exercises for Muscle Building and Injury Prevention


One-Arm Kettlebell Strict Press
For this exercise, you will need a kettlebell. Grip the kettlebell with one hand, making sure to hold it properly – your hand should grip the handle diagonally so that the weight rests on your forearm without impeding your movement. Your starting position is as follows: your arm is bent at about a 45-degree angle and spaced a few centimeters away from your body so as not to touch your ribs. Simply press the weight up to 90 degrees and then above your head. Start with a light weight if you are not accustomed to this movement. If you cannot fully extend your arm, keep your elbow slightly bent to avoid losing balance or putting too much strain on your lower back, for example.

TRX Inverted Row
The TRX is one piece of equipment that you should be using more often, whether it’s for working your abs, chest, or the stability and strength of your shoulders. In this case, you will be performing rows. To do this, grab a handle in each hand and walk your feet forward to create tension in the straps. Your body should form a straight line from your feet to your head. By engaging your abs and glutes, you will pull on the straps with control to lift your chest up.

Powerful Shoulder-Building Supersets

The Face Pull is a highly effective exercise for the upper body. It can be done using a pulley or an elastic band. Grab one end of the rope or band with your right hand and the other end with your left hand, palms facing down. Pull the rope or band towards your face while spreading your arms to the sides. Make sure the equipment is positioned at face level to allow for a nearly horizontal movement that targets the rear delts.

Hands-up push-up is another variation of push-ups that targets the shoulders and shoulder blades. Start in a plank position, then lower your chest to the ground by bending your arms. Once on the ground, lift your arms out to the sides in a “W” shape, then place your hands back under your shoulders to push back up into the plank position.

To finish off your upper body and shoulder workout, try the Kettlebell Arm Bar exercise with a light weight. Lie next to your kettlebell and roll onto your back while gripping it with both hands. Press the kettlebell upwards and hold it with your left hand. Your left leg should be bent and slightly to the side, while your right leg extends and your right arm unfolds along your ear above your head.

By pushing off your left foot, rotate your hips and chest to the right while keeping the kettlebell in the air with your left arm. Find your balance, then bring your left leg over to the right side and place it on the ground. Slowly return to the starting position and lower the kettlebell to the ground (with both hands) before switching sides.

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