Shoulder Exercises with Dumbbells

Shoulder Exercises with Dumbbells - The Complete Guide

Explore the best shoulder exercises with dumbbells to build strength and sculpt your shoulders. Perfect for all fitness levels!

Working on your muscle growth begins with a focus on your shoulders. They are major muscles in your body, so when you want to gain muscle mass, they need to be your priority. While there are countless workouts you can include in your training session, shoulder exercises with dumbbells are proven to be the most effective. Working out with weights is the best way to target these muscles and see some significant results.

Dumbbells allow you to hit all the muscles in your shoulder area, including your delts. Moreover, they help you improve your mobility and grip skills. Luckily, thanks to the countless shoulder workouts with dumbbells, you will achieve your desired results in no time! Still, if you are just starting your routine, you may not know which ones would benefit you most.

That is why we have selected the best dumbbell shoulder exercises to narrow down your options and focus on the ones that will truly make a difference. You can choose the exercises that suit you and begin your muscle gain mission. 

Best Dumbbell Exercises for Your Shoulders

Dumbbells belong to one of the most commonly chosen exercise equipment suitable for all training levels, even beginners. Moreover, dumbbells do not require special conditions in your exercise sessions, meaning they can be easily included in home workouts.

Here are the best shoulder exercises with dumbbells with remarkable muscle growth benefits: 

1. Dumbbell Front Raise

When your goal is muscle mass, the dumbbell front raise is an exercise you need to include in your workout routine. It targets the front head of the shoulder and directly hits the muscles we usually try to shape and tone. However, considering this is an isolating exercise, the use of lighter weights is required. We do not say that you have to use your lightest dumbbells, but make sure you opt for those that will not impose a lot of pressure on your shoulders while you are lifting.

Nonetheless, the use of lighter weights comes with other benefits. Since you do not have to use a lot of strength and power to raise the dumbbells, you can do more reps. Going for 10 to 20 reps will be enough to start seeing visible results. Be sure to avoid swinging; otherwise, you will not see your expected results. Remember, this shoulder exercise with dumbbells involves controlled movements, meaning your raises need to get the muscles to work. 

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How to Perform Dumbbell Front Raise?

Hold a set of dumbbells against your legs with palms facing inward, and stand tall. Begin by raising one dumbbell in front of you so that it is just above your shoulder line. Your arm should be almost straight but the elbow soft with the palms facing towards the floor. Keep the opposite arm in a resting position against your tight.

When raising your arm, lift it until you reach your eye level and hold for a second. Then, put it back down slowly and repeat the same movement with your other arm. If you are a beginner, start with 10 reps per session, but gradually increase the reps as you improve. 

Also Read: The Ultimate Guide to Trap Workouts

2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The press is an exercise you need to include in your shoulder workout with a dumbbells routine. It is one of the best exercises that works directly on your shoulder muscles and contributes to strength and mass building. Moreover, it is one of the most performed exercises for the upper part of the body because it activates several muscles at once.

In addition, the dumbbell shoulder press is characterized by versatility, i.e., it can be done in a few positions. It can be performed either by standing or sitting. This allows you to add variety to your workouts and target muscle groups effectively. However, the seated position might be more beneficial for gaining mass since it isolates the shoulders and removes the pressure from the lower back or legs.

Similarly to the dumbbell front raise, this exercise requires lighter weights. Generally, you should refrain from doing lifting shoulder exercises with heavy weights. Considering the shoulder is a mobile muscle, opting for heavy weights is not a good idea since you can highly increase the risk of injury. 

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How to Perform Dumbbell Shoulder Press ?

Before you decide which dumbbell shoulder press variation you want to do, try both standing and seating positions. This is especially important if you are a beginner. You need to find your comfortable position so you can get used to the movements included in the dumbbell shoulder press. However, you should bear in mind that being seated might be better when your focus is on muscle growth.

Begin the exercise by raising each weight and letting the dumbbells sit on the shoulders (or just above them) with your palms facing forward. Hold the weight above your head, and grip the dumbbells together on top of your head. Then, lower the weight until the dumbbells are resting on your shoulders.

Ensure you do each rep fully to get a full range of motion. Doing complete reps will make the most of the exercise and get the expected results. Also, start with 10 reps each time you perform dumbbell shoulder presses. As you progress, you can increase the reps and enhance the effects of the exercise. 

3. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

The dumbbell side lateral raise is another variation that targets the sides of the shoulders. The side muscles are the most dominant when it comes to shoulders and have the greatest contribution to the area’s appearance. When you want to work on your side muscles, the best practice is to move the arms away from the body. That is why the side lateral raise is one of the exercises most performed by athletes and bodybuilders.

The lateral raising is easier than the front variation, so it can be done with medium to heavy weights. However, if you are a beginner, you may want to start with medium-weight dumbbells. As you improve, you can count on increasing the weight, but ensure that you first figure out the movements properly.

When it comes to positions in which you can do this shoulder exercise with weights, you have two options - seated or standing. Nonetheless, if you opt for the seated one, you will force your muscles to work harder, meaning you can expect better results.

Also Read: How to Get Big Muscles Fast?

How to Perform Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise ?

Take a dumbbell from each hand and stand on the bench with your palms facing inward, next to your knees. Raise your arms to the side, so that your knuckles are in line with your shoulders and your weight is right on the floor. Hold this position at the top for a second, slowly lowering the weight to the starting position. Try to focus on your side shoulders, or otherwise, it is easy for the trap muscles to take some of the strain.

Alternatively, if you want to do the standing position, you should use the same position as you would for a front raise but with your hands on your side. Set a maximum of two or three sets of 12 to 15 reps. When you want to intensify your training sessions, you can increase the number of reps or make the movements faster. It is up to you to discover what works best for your body. 

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4. Dumbbell Reverse Fly

The dumbbell reverse fly is quite similar to the side lateral raise. The only thing that changes is the position. Instead of standing or sitting, you need to bend over to do this shoulder exercise with dumbbells. Also, unlike lateral raise that targets the side muscles, the dumbbell reverse fly works the posterior deltoids.

These muscles are located at the back of the shoulder, so in most people, they are undeveloped. We are talking about muscles that are rarely activated but contribute to muscle mass greatly. That is why many bodybuilders include the reverse fly in their training sessions.

For the reverse fly, you may use lighter or heavier weights. If you decide to go with low weight, you will be able to do more reps. On the other hand, heavier weights will make you work harder, and your movements will probably be slower, meaning you will not be able to do as many reps as you can with lower weights. 

Also Read: A Guide to Inner Thigh Exercises

How to Perform Dumbbell Reverse Fly?

You should start by holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, palms facing each other. Maintain a straight standing position with your feet hip-width apart. While keeping your back straight and a slight bend in your elbows, have your knees slightly bent and hinge at your hips.

With controlled movements, raise your arms to the sides until they are parallel to the floor, and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. To maintain correct form and control during this shoulder workout with dumbbells, slowly lower the weights back to their starting position and repeat the same movements for 10-20 reps. 

5. Dumbbell Arnold Press

In the 1970s, Arnold Press became a big name in the world of bodybuilding and fitness. It gained recognition because of the legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. People were fascinated by the shoulders of this iconic bodybuilder, so it is no wonder that the exercise got his name.

The Arnold press has some similarities to the dumbbell press in a seated position because it requires sitting on a bench. However, the difference is that the Arnold press begins with the palms facing inward and close to the center of the chest, with the elbows facing forward and the upper body tucked in.

The exercise targets a large part of the shoulders giving them a toned appearance. Moreover, it is one of the crucial exercises you do when muscle gain is your goal. It does not only hit the shoulders but the back muscles as well. That is why it has become a must in the world of bodybuilding. 

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How to Perform Dumbbell Arnold Press?

To begin, sit on a bench while ensuring your back is supported, and hold the dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with palms facing you. Keep your elbows bent.

While simultaneously rotating your palms to face forward with extended arms overhead, press the dumbbells upwards. As you rotate your palms back to the starting position, slowly lower them down to shoulder height.

Repeat this movement for at least 10 reps and make sure you control your movements. Do not hurry through the reps because this exercise requires a lot of control. If you want to make the most of the exercise, be sure to slow down your movements. 

Benefits of Shoulder Exercises with Dumbbells

Besides muscle gain and the amazing appearance of your shoulders, you should also consider what shoulder exercises with dumbbells do for your overall body health. Several benefits do not refer to how your shoulders look but to their proper function. Here are some advantages of dumbbell shoulder exercises that impact the way your body functions: 

1. Increased Shoulder Muscle Strength

Dumbbells are great for various exercises targeting the upper body, as they help you to build strength and muscle mass in your shoulder area. Numerous compound and isolation exercises can be used for this purpose. Muscle building happens through these exercises, such as shoulder flies, since they target individual muscles and produce greater results. 

2. Reduced Risk of Injury

The shoulder muscle consists of three parts - front, back, and side deltoid. Some lifters have a lack of muscle mass in the back deltoids due to an imbalance in focus on the front of the shoulder, which causes the shoulder to move forward. It may cause friction in the shoulder girdle, which can lead to joint injuries over time. 


Therefore, adding a wide range of shoulder exercises with weights to your training routine is extremely important to ensure overall strength and joint protection at both ends.  

Including shoulder exercises with dumbbells is a good way to achieve the fitness goals you have set for your body. Numerous exercises will give you the appearance you want for your shoulders but also influence the proper function of your body parts and joints. By trying some of the methods we have mentioned here, you can make a big difference in your workout success!