Muscle & Fitness


Curated By Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

One of the best parts of training shoulders is this: You don’t need a ton of equipment to get it done. Your shoulders aren’t a massive muscle group, and, very often, when you’re training other body parts, they’re getting plenty of work. They play a key role on chest day during all pressing movements, and your rear delts get plenty of work whenever you’re doing rows on back day.

Training shoulders winds up being more about form and function than heavy weights. The five moves below build critical shoulder stability while challenging your abs (which must stabilize your spine during every shoulder movement) more than you may think. Choose any 2 movements when you want to attack shoulders.



The L-Raise may very well be the most underrated shoulder exercise out there. You’re essentially doing a front raise with one arm and a lateral raise with the other; the combination of these two matches up with real life, which rarely lets you do the same thing with both sides of your body. It also challenges your abs: you must squeeze abs and glutes hard on every rep and focus on keeping your hips and shoulders square to the front-raising side.

Aim for 2 sets of 8-12 reps per side.



When you want to hit the outer head of your shoulders and create that “capped” superhero look, you want to go to a lateral raise. And this seated version is your best way to train with some load while still focusing intently on form. The seated lateral raise has two key strengths. First, you’re starting with your arms away from your body, and that forces you to really focus on squeezing your shoulders at the top of each rep. You also get to “rest” between reps when the dumbbells hit the ground, helping you prolong each set just a bit longer.

Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.



Shoulder range of motion doesn’t just happen. It needs to be trained. The split stance halo does that, challenging you to circle the dumbbell around your head. Your challenge: Don’t “cheat” on this motion. If you flare your ribs, your shoulders won’t do the work, so keeping your abs tight is paramount.

Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.



The half-kneeling windmill builds serious shoulder strength by challenging you to own the overhead position for the entire life of each set. Even better, it teaches you to squeeze your shoulder blades as you lower your torso toward the ground. This simple act is critical to long-term shoulder health.

Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps per side. Can’t get your elbow to the ground? Touch your hand to the ground instead.



You might have expected a classic overhead press here, but my pick for the best overall shoulder exercise is the push press. By incorporating your hips into the motion, you’re able to be explosive, an underrated quality for longevity. Focus on keeping your abs tight and squeezing your shoulder blades as you press overhead.

Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He’s logged training time with NFL athletes and track athletes.

His current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga.

Ebenezer has had multiple prestigious positions including serving as a sports and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.

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