5 shoulder press exercises to build shoulders and upper body strength

These are a few shoulder press exercises that can help build muscle mass, strength and mobility in your shoulders and boost upper body strength.
shoulder press
Build upper strength with shoulder exercise. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 27 Sep 2022, 15:35 pm IST
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Do you wish to strengthen your upper body and shoulders at the same time? If so, shoulder press variations are the solution. Exercises or variations of shoulder presses give the upper body and shoulders a complete range of motion, which is essential for posture and general physical fitness.

Can shoulder press variations build upper body strength?

One of the best workouts for building strong shoulders and an upper body is the shoulder press. In the shoulder press, muscles such the deltoids, trapezius, triceps, and rotator cuff are engaged. The best way to increase muscle mass, strength, and stability is through it. So, we’ve compiled a few of the best workouts here to help you get started with your shoulder press regimen.

Health Shots got in touch with Abhishek Sinha, fitness expert at Equilibrium Pro Gym, to find out the best shoulder press variations.

Here are 5 exercises for shoulder to build upper body strength:

1. Military press aka overhead press

The military press, which is sometimes referred to as an overhead press and a shoulder press, is a barbell strength training exercise that targets trapezius muscles of the upper body, triceps in your arms and deltoid muscles in your shoulders as well as anterior and medial delts. You can execute this exercise using a barbell or plates.

shoulder press exercises
Be comfortable while performing it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how to perform it:

  • To begin with, pick a barbell that you can easily lift to shoulder height.
  • To align it with your sternum, lift and hold it at your chest. The barbell can alternatively be positioned on a rack at about shoulder height.
  • Put your palms up and forward, a little wider than shoulder width, on the bar.
  • Breathe in, hold it, and tighten your abdominals.
  • Lift it straight up into the air. (Don’t push it forward; let it pass directly above you.)
  • As you raise the bar directly above your head, exhale.
  • As you bring the bar back to your collarbone, inhale.
  • To complete one rep, raise the bar once more.

This is one rep. You need to perform at least 12 to 15 repetitions to build your shoulder stronger and bigger. To make it easier if you’re a beginner, you can perform it while sitting as well.

Also, read: Tone your arms and shoulders with these 5 fantastic bicep stretches at home

2. Shoulder dumbbell press

Since you can’t just rely on one shoulder to lift up the weight, use a dumbbell. Using dumbbells instead of a barbell assures that all sides of your body get stronger equally. So incorporate the dumbbell shoulder press into your workout plan if you desire strong, broad shoulders.

shoulder press exercises
Dumbbells can help you lose more weight than usual. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Hold the dumbbells in both hands at shoulder height with your elbows at a 90-degree angle while you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Dumbbells should be raised slowly, without fully straightening your arms. At the peak, pause.
  • Return to the starting position gradually.

Perform at least 10-15 rep.


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3. Rear delt pull or face pulls

The face pull, which encourages both external rotation at the shoulder joint and mid-back strength, is a crucial exercise for long-term shoulder health. In addition to the shoulders, the deltoids, upper back, and trapezius were addressed by the face pull.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Take hold of a rope that is fastened to a high pulley cable station or the high ends of a resistance band.
  • Once your arms are out in front of you, take a few steps back.
  • As you drag the rope closer to your face, tear it apart.
  • At the very end, aim to rotate your hands back such that your elbows are parallel to your shoulders.
  • Do 18 to 20 repetitions.

4. Side dumbbell raise or Dumbbell lateral raise

An upper body workout for developing shoulder strength and muscle is the dumbbell lateral raise. This exercise targets the deltoid’s medial or lateral head, giving them a wider, more developed appearance.

shoulder press exercises
Start your strength training journey with these exercises. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Holding a dumbbell at your side, stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Your palm should be facing the floor as you slowly raise one arm so that it is straight out to the side.
  • Hold for 2 to 3 seconds. As you do this, your shoulders should be tense.
  • Bring the dumbbell back to your side gradually.
  • Continue by using the other arm. One rep equals this.
  • Perform 10 to 15 times.

Also, read: 5 exercises to give your lean shoulders more size and strength

5. Hammer-grip dumbbell bench press

Although your arms and shoulders also work as stabilisers, the hammer press is primarily a chest workout.

shoulder press exercises
Bench press will strengthen your upper arms! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Sit on the end of a flat bench while holding a pair of dumbbells, and place them on your knees.
  • Lie supine (on your back) on the bench and raise the dumbbells using your knees.
  • Dumbbells should be held with a hammer grip, adjacent to the sides of your chest (palms facing inward). Your elbows should be 45 degrees bent and tucked into your body.
  • Until your arms are fully stretched over your chest, exhale as you press the dumbbells up and inward in an arc motion.
  • Inhale as you perform the exercise in reverse and lower the dumbbells to the beginning position, or until your chest or shoulders start to feel somewhat stretched.
  • Repeat.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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