15 Best Shoulder Exercises For Women

From front raise to side plank - list the best exercises to strengthen your shoulders.

Reviewed by Dr. Sudhansu Singh, BPT Dr. Sudhansu Singh Dr. Sudhansu SinghBPT facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Payal Karnik MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 2.5 years
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Shoulder exercises help strengthen and tone the delts. The best shoulder exercises for women help increase fitness and stamina and reduce shoulder pain. Toned shoulders also help you rock any kind of attire you wear. That’s why, irrespective of age, profession, or fitness level, every woman must include shoulder exercises in their fitness routines. Check out these 15 best shoulder exercises for women. Get your dumbbells, and let’s begin!

protip_icon Workout Blueprint: Shoulder Exercises For Women
  • Frequency: Every alternate day
  • Benefits: Strengthen and tone the muscles, increase fitness and stamina, and reduce shoulder pain.
  • Equipment Needed: Exercise mat and dumbbells.
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: No
  • Who Should Avoid: Individuals who have been advised to avoid these exercises or with existing injuries or may be pregnant.

15 Shoulder Exercises For Strengthening And Toning

Before you jump directly to these bodyweight exercises, you must dedicate 10 minutes to warming up your muscles. You can practice these shoulder exercises in the gym or at home.

1. Lateral Raises

Steps of lateral raises the best shoulder exercises for women
Image: Shutterstock

Target – Medial or lateral (side) deltoids, lats, and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

How To Do Lateral Raises

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, stand straight, with your legs shoulder-width apart, and shoulders rolled back. Bend your elbow slightly.
  2. Raise your arms until they reach the shoulder level. Pause and bring your arms down. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

2. Dumbbell Front Raises

 

Steps of dumbbell front raises the best shoulder exercises for women
Image: Shutterstock

 Target – Anterior (front) deltoids, lateral (side) deltoids, lats teres major and minor, serratus anterior (side of your chest), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

Eunice, a blogger, shared she liked to do the shoulder press while she spent her time in front of the television. She said, “I love this exercise because it is relatively easy and you can do it while watching TV. I feel a lot less guilty plopping in front of the TV if I am being productive while I do it (i).”

How To Do Dumbbell Front Raises

1. Grab two dumbbells, stand straight, with the legs hip-width apart, palms on the front of your thighs, facing inwards.
2. Raise your hands. Pause at the shoulder level and lower them slowly. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

Variation – Raise one arm at a time. This is also known as single hand dumbbell front raise.

3. Reverse Fly

The reverse fly is the best shoulder exercise for women
Image: YouTube @3v878

Target – Posterior (back) deltoids, lats, rhomboids, serratus anterior (side of your chest), pectoralis major (chest muscle), biceps, triceps, and traps.

How To Do Reverse Fly

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your legs close to each other, bend forward at 45 degrees, with your knees slightly bent, and hands hanging down.
  2. Lift your arms to your side, pause, and lower them. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

4. Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs is the best shoulder exercise for women
Image: Shutterstock

Target – Lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, lats, levator scapulae (side of your neck), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

 How To Do Shoulder Shrugs

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your hands by your side, palms facing inward. Stand straight. Keep your core tight, and shoulders rolled back.
  2. Raise your shoulders to your ears, pause, and lower your shoulders. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

5. Standing Shoulder Press

Steps of standing shoulder press the best shoulder exercises for women
Image: Shutterstock

Target – Anterior (front) deltoids, lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, biceps, triceps, lats, serratus anterior (side of your chest), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

How To Do Standing Shoulder Press

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with your legs hip-width apart, and shoulders rolled back.
  2. Lift your arms so that the upper arms are parallel to the floor. Your forearms should be at 90 degrees with your upper arms, and palms facing forward.
  3. Push the dumbbells over your head by extending your hands.
  4. Pause and bring your arms back to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15 reps.

6. Bent Arm Lateral Raises

Steps of bent arm lateral raise the best shoulder exercises for women
Image: YouTube @stacievenagro1029

Target – Medial or lateral (side) deltoids, anterior (front) deltoids, lats, pectoralis major (chest muscle), and serratus anterior (side of your chest).

How To Do Bent Arm Lateral Raises

  1. Hold two dumbbells. Stand straight and keep your legs shoulder-width apart, hands by your side, palms facing inward, and shoulders rolled back.
  2. Bend your elbows so that your forearms are at 90 degrees with your upper arms, and the palms are facing each other. Bend your knees slightly to support your back.
  3. Exhale and keeping your elbows locked, lift your arms until they are at the shoulder level. Pause, inhale and bring your arms back to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15 reps.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Side planks are great functional training exercises and safe for most people, but it is best to avoid them if you have shoulder or arm pain or experience it during the workout.

7. Side Plank

Side plank is the best shoulder exercise for women
Image: Shutterstock

Target – Lateral (side) deltoids, anterior (front) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, triceps, biceps, abs, obliques, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

How To Do Side Plank

  1. Lie down on your right side. Your right forearm should be at 90 degrees with the upper arm. Keep your palm flat on the floor, the right elbow exactly below the right shoulder. Place your left hand on your waist.
  2. Lift your hips off the floor. Make sure your neck is in line with your spine. Do not drop it down.
  3. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
  4. Do it on the other side as well. Do 3 sets of 30-60 seconds hold.

8. Pec Deck Butterfly

Peck deck butterfly is the best shoulder exercise for women
Image: YouTube @biohackingbombshell

Target – Anterior (front) deltoids, pectoralis major (chest muscle), triceps, and lats.

How To Do Pec Deck Butterfly

  1. Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lift the dumbbells by bending your elbows such that your upper arms are parallel to the ground, and your forearms are upright and at 90 degrees with the upper arms.
  3. Engage your abs and bring your elbows close in front of your face.
  4. Push them back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

9. Elbow Plank

Elbow blank is the best shoulder exercise for women
Image: Shutterstock

Target – Anterior (front) deltoids, lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, triceps, abs, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

 How To Do Elbow Plank

  1. Get on all fours. Bend your elbows and rest them on the floor. Extend your legs behind.
  2. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds. Do 3 sets of 30-60 seconds hold.

10. Overhead Tricep Extensions

Steps of overhead tricep extensions the best shoulder exercises for women
Image: Shutterstock

Target – Posterior (back) deltoids, triceps, lats, serratus anterior (side of your chest), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

How To Do Overhead Tricep Extensions

  1. Grab a dumbbell with both hands. Rest your palm on the inner side of the top dumbbell head, and sit on a bench or a chair.
  2. Raise your arms and bring the dumbbell right over your head. This is the starting position.
  3. Flex your elbows, and keeping your upper arms stationary, lower your forearms so that the dumbbell is directly behind your neck.
  4. Lift your forearms and get back to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

11. Plank Ups

Target – Anterior (front) deltoids, lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, triceps, biceps, abs, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

How To Do Plank Ups

  1. Get into a plank position. Keep your core engaged, neck in line with your spine, and look down.
  2. Flex your right elbow and place your right forearm flat on the floor.
  3. Flex your left elbow and place your left forearm flat on the floor. You are now in an elbow plank position.
  4. Without pausing, place your right palm flat on the floor and extend your right arm. Place your left palm flat on the floor and extend your left arm. Now, you will be in a push-up position. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

12. Seated Bent-over Rear Delt Raise

Seated bent-over rear delt raise is the best shoulder exercise for women
Image: YouTube @tylerkoronich6976

Target – Lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, biceps, triceps, lats, serratus anterior (side of your chest), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

How To Do Seated Bent-over Rear Delt Raise

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a flat bench. Keep your legs together and bend your upper body forward. Let your chest be near your knees.
  2. Place your hand by your calves. Keep your neck in line with your spine.
  3. Exhale and lift the dumbbells straight to your sides until both the arms are parallel to the floor. Make sure your elbows are slightly bent.
  4. Pause, inhale, and slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Note: This exercise can be performed in the standing position, but if you have lower back pain, it is better to do it in the sitting position with precautions.

13. Push-ups

Steps of push-ups the best shoulder exercises for women
Image: Shutterstock

Target – Anterior (front) deltoids, lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, biceps, triceps, lats, serratus anterior (side of your chest), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

How To Do Push-ups

  1. Get down in a plank position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders, abs tight, and body in a straight line.
  2. Bend your elbows to the sides and lower your body towards the floor. Make sure your body remains in a straight line.
  3. Press up back to the starting position. Don’t forget to breathe. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
protip_icon Did You Know?
If push-ups are difficult for you, start doing modified push-ups on your knees instead of your toes until you build the strength to do a regular one.

14. Dumbbell Upright Rows

Target – Lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, biceps, triceps, lats, rhomboids, serratus anterior (side of your chest), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

How To Do Dumbbell Upright Rows

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand. Stand straight with the legs hip-width apart, shoulders rolled back, and palms facing your thighs.
  2. Draw the dumbbells up to your chest level by flexing your elbows. Keep your elbows away from your body, upper arms at shoulder height, palms facing inward, and wrists lower than your elbows.
  3. Slowly lower the weight to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

15. Pike Push-ups

Steps of pike push-ups exercise the best shoulder exercises for women
Image: YouTube @livestrongwomen

Target – Anterior (front) deltoids, lateral (side) deltoids, posterior (back) deltoids, triceps, serratus anterior (side of your chest), and pectoralis major (chest muscle).

How To Do Pike Push-ups

  1. Get into the plank position and push your hips up towards the sky such that you are in the Downward Dog pose.
  2. Bend your elbows, and try to touch your head to the floor and press up. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

These are the 15 best shoulder exercises for women. You must cool down and relax after you complete your workout session. Here’s what you should do.

Cool Down

Cooling down is as important as warming up your muscles. It will help you relax and prevent any delayed post-workout injury. Check out this video and follow the instructions to cool down.

Infographic: Top 5 Shoulder Exercises For Women To Try

The right exercises can increase your stamina and strengthen your shoulders. From the elaborate list above, we have highlighted the top 5 exercises to help you get toned shoulders that you can show off in a gorgeous new dress. Check out the infographic below to know more!

top 5 shoulder exercises for women to try (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Shoulders play a key role in our day-to-day tasks and posture, so keeping them fit and strong is extremely important. The shoulder mobility exercises for women listed above help strengthen the front, side, and back deltoids, lats, biceps, traps, triceps, pectoralis major (a chest muscle), the side of your chest, and neck, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and abs. Overall, it primarily helps you strengthen your upper body. Do warm-up exercises before this shoulder workout session and cooling exercises like shoulder stretches post-session. Get in touch with your trainer immediately and start doing shoulder exercises at the earliest!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some shoulder exercises for women?

Some of the best shoulder exercises for women are:

  • Lateral raises
  • Dumbbell front raises
  • Reverse fly
  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Standing dumbbell shoulder press
  • Seated overhead press
  • Bent arm lateral raises
  • Side plank
  • Pec deck butterfly
  • Elbow plank
  • Overhead tricep extensions
  • Plank ups
  • Arnold press
  • Seated bent-over rear delt raise
  • Push-ups
  • Dumbbell upright rows
  • Pike push-ups
  • Military press exercise
  • Push press exercise

How can I reduce shoulder fat?

You must do cardio 3 times a week and eat healthy foods to help burn fat. After 3-4 weeks, you will start to see results. You can then start strength training or lifting weights to tone your shoulders. Lift weights under the supervision of a professional trainer.

How can I increase shoulder size at home?

You can increase shoulder size at home by incorporating shoulder stabilization exercises, dumbbells, barbells, and resistance bands to your shoulder workout routine. Along with exercise, you must also consume protein powders.

How to strengthen the rotator cuff?

Stretching and strengthening the muscles that support the rotator cuff is important. But you must do exercises and stretches under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Do the following rotator cuff exercises to reduce pain:

  • Pendulum
  • Doorway stretch
  • Crossover arm stretch
  • Shoulder external rotation
  • Shoulder internal rotation
  • Resisted shoulder extension
  • Shoulder abduction using resistance band exercises
  • Reverse fly
  • Side-lying external rotation
  • Sleeper stretch
  • Standing row
  • Elbow flexion
  • Elbow extension
  • Scapula setting
  • Scapular retraction/protraction
  • Bent over horizontal abduction

Do push-ups work?

Yes, push-ups work your shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, and core. Doing push-ups regularly will help you build toned and strong shoulders.

When should I see a doctor for shoulder pain?

You must see a doctor if there is swelling, pain, redness, and skin surface heat and if it affects mobility. If a pain-subduing spray doesn’t work, it is better to get an X-ray done and consult a licensed orthopedician.

Key Takeaways

  • Elbow plank is a simple yet challenging workout that strengthens your overall body, especially the front, side, and back deltoids.
  • Dumbbell front raise is an excellent exercise if you wish to work your deltoid muscles and increase shoulder strength.
  • Shoulder shrugs with dumbbells target the lateral and posterior deltoids, side of the neck, and chest muscles.


Get ready to improve your posture and feel more confident. Check out this workout video and learn how to fix rounded shoulders and hunchback.

Personal Experience: Source

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Dr. Sudhansu Singh is a Physiotherapist, Sports and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, and Neuro Physiotherapist with 8 years of experience. He is a member of the Federation of Indian Manual Therapists (FIMT) and an active member of the Delhi Council of Physiotherapy and FIMT Australia Association. Dr. Singh earned his Bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy from Padmashree Institute of Physiotherapy, Bangalore, Rajiv Gandhi...read full bio

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