15 Best Shoulder Exercises For Women

Medically reviewed by Dr. Sudhansu Singh, Physiotherapist
by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Toned shoulders make women look attractive. Open and relaxed shoulders create an illusion of a smaller waist and make you look confident. Moreover, shoulder exercises help correct posture, strengthen the shoulders, and reduce the risk of shoulder pain. Hence, it is important for women to do shoulder exercises irrespective of their age, fitness, or profession. This article lists 15 best shoulder exercises for women. Grab your dumbbells and get started!

15 Shoulder Exercises For Strengthening And Toning

Before you jump directly to the shoulder exercises, you must dedicate 10 minutes to warming up your muscles.

1. Lateral Raises

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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

 

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

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

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

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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

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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

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.

7. Side Plank

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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

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

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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

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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

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

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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.

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

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.

Conclusion

Shoulder exercises are not only for men, and neither will they make you muscular. Doing a few shoulder exercises regularly will improve your upper body strength and add an X-factor to your personality. Talk to your trainer and start exercising your shoulders today. Good luck!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ 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 shoulder press
  • Bent arm lateral raises
  • Side plank
  • Pec deck butterfly
  • Elbow plank
  • Overhead tricep extensions
  • Plank ups
  • Seated bent-over rear delt raise
  • Push-ups
  • Dumbbell upright rows
  • Pike push-ups

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 adding 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 exercises to reduce rotator cuff pain:

  • Pendulum
  • Doorway stretch
  • Crossover arm stretch
  • Shoulder external rotation
  • Shoulder internal rotation
  • Resisted shoulder extension
  • Shoulder abduction using resistance band
  • 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.

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.
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