How to get the Best Shoulder Workout at Home - Our Top Tips

shoulder workout and traps

Getting a good shoulder workout at home isn’t as hard as it might seem. A great shoulder workout doesn’t require loads of equipment, and you can do many exercises with as little as your body weight or a pair of dumbbells. So, even if you have limited or no workout equipment, you can still get a great workout and focus on turning those shoulders into boulders! In this article, I’ll outline my top shoulder exercises with and without equipment. So let’s get started!

Lateral Raise

Perhaps the king of all shoulder exercises, the lateral raise is a simple way to grow your shoulders with minimal equipment. This is my favorite shoulder exercise, and I would argue that it can hold its own against any cable shoulder workout.

To perform a lateral raise, grab a pair of dumbbells (you’ll want to go light with lateral raises, trust me) and hold them with an overhand grip. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly. With the dumbbells resting at your sides, slowly raise your arms to the side until the dumbbells are level with your shoulders. To complete a rep, slowly lower the dumbbells back to your sides.

Beginners new to lateral raises should pick a light weight at first. Then, gradually build up your reps and weight over time, focusing on form over weight. In no time, you’ll be a master of lateral raises!

Lateral Raises work the following muscles:

  • Anterior Delts
  • Lateral Delts
  • Upper Back

Military Press

If I’m doing a shoulder workout at home, you can guarantee I’ll be doing a few sets of military press. They’re enjoyable, versatile, effective, and make you look professional! 

Here are four variations for you to try:

Standing Barbell Military Press: If you’re looking for a shoulder workout with barbells, the standing barbell military press is a great variation to try. Grab a barbell and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Some people like to stagger their feet but do whatever feels comfortable. With your palms facing away from you, lift the barbell over your head until your arms are straight, ensuring your back is straight, and your core is engaged. Slowly lower the weight back to shoulder height to complete a rep.

Seated Barbell Military Press: If you’re struggling to keep your back straight during a standing military press, or you want to eliminate other muscle groups, putting all of the stress on your shoulders, a seated barbell military press is perfect. Grab a bench and put it on a very slight incline. Then, perform reps as described above. If you have a power rack or squat in your home gym, use it to complete the seated military press for added safety and benefit.

Standing Dumbbell Military Press: If you don’t have a barbell in your home gym, don’t worry, you can use dumbbells instead. The motion is very similar; make sure to lift each dumbbell simultaneously for maximum effectiveness.

Seated Dumbbell Military Press: This is my favorite military press variation, as I find that I can assist the weight up to my shoulders with my knees, allowing me to use a heavier weight. The motion is the same as a seated barbell press; just use dumbbells instead!

All variations of the military press will work the following muscles:

  • Anterior Delts
  • Medial Delts
  • Upper Back
  • Triceps


If you’re looking for a great chest and shoulder workout, push-ups are a great choice. Unfortunately, many people assume that push-ups only work your chest. But, they’re a great way to train your triceps and shoulders, too, making them an excellent addition to any chest triceps and shoulder workout.

Performing a push-up is pretty simple. Start on the floor on your toes, with your hands around shoulder-width apart. Next, lower your arms and chest until your chest almost touches the floor. Keeping your core engaged, explode back up with your arms to complete a rep.

If you’re struggling to complete a rep, try starting on your knees instead of your toes. This will make the technique much more manageable but still give you a great chest and shoulder workout at home. Conversely, if you want to make the exercise harder, try adding a backpack full of books on your back or some resistance bands.

Press ups will work the following muscles:

  • Delts (all heads)
  • Pecs
  • Triceps
  • Lower back
  • Core

Handstand Push-Ups

If you’re looking for a challenging shoulder workout without weights, try a handstand push-up. They are complex and will require a lot of practice. But they’re far from impossible and will make you look like a superhero!

You’ll need to be near a solid wall to perform a handstand push-up. First, do a handstand against the wall and keep a straight position. Next, bend your arms at your elbows until your head nearly touches the floor. Hold this position for a second (or a couple if you want to make the exercise harder) and drive back up with your arms to complete the rep.

Now, handstand push-ups can be pretty dangerous, especially when first starting. As such, it’s probably a good idea to have a spotter nearby to catch you if you fall. Or, have a mat beneath you to soften the blow if you lose your balance.

It’s worth noting that should you feel any pain performing these exercises, immediately stop. Consulting a GP or personal trainer is advisable for advice if any of these exercises cause pain.

Handstand push-ups will work the following muscles:

  • Delts (all heads)
  • Triceps
  • Traps

Pike Press

The pike press is another great bodyweight exercise to implement into your shoulder workout at home. They’re pretty easy to do but are incredibly effective. Also, as you don’t need any equipment, they’re perfect for beginners. When I was new to working out, I performed a pike press nearly daily!

To perform a pike press:

  1. Start in a traditional press-up position.
  2. Push your hips back as far as comfortable with your rear in the air and torso and legs forming a triangle with the floor.
  3. Lower your body by bending your arms until your head reaches the floor, and then push back up and straighten your arms to complete a rep. If you want to make this exercise harder, hold each rep at the bottom for a few seconds before coming back up.

Pike Presses make for an excellent shoulder workout without weights. They’ll also train the following muscles:

  • Anterior Delts
  • Triceps

Shoulder Shrugs

Did you know that former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson used to perform 500 shoulder shrugs daily with a 66-pound weight? Well, he did, and their effectiveness can clearly be seen in the size of his shoulders. Shrugs are one of the best shoulder workouts for home, and you should consider implementing them into your shoulder workout.

To perform a shoulder shrug:

  1. Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Take two dumbbells and rest them by your sides.
  3. Shrug your shoulders as far as you can and pause for a second.
  4. Slowly lower your shoulders back to the starting position to complete a rep.

Shoulder shrugs can be completed seated or standing. I prefer the standing variation, as it allows me to keep my back straighter, and I feel I have more control over my form. But, do whatever feels natural to you, and you’ll have Tyson-like shoulders and traps in no time!

Shoulder shrugs make for a great trap and shoulder workout, working the following muscles:

  • Delts
  • Traps
  • Upper back/neck

Frontal Raise

One of my favorite at-home shoulder workouts with dumbbells is the frontal raise. It’s often overlooked, but it’s one of the most effective ways to grow your anterior delt. They also require minimal equipment, making them perfect for a shoulder workout at home.

To perform a frontal raise:

  1. Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells, gripping them with your palms in (the dumbbell grip should be vertical, not horizontal).
  3. Slowly lift the dumbbells simultaneously until they reach shoulder height.
  4. Hold this position for a second before slowly lowering the weights to complete a rep.

A frontal raise is a perfect companion to the lateral raise, and performing the two together can make for an excellent shoulder workout at home. Consider forming a superset to test your limits. Trust me; it’ll be more challenging than you think!

Frontal raises work the following muscles:

  • Anterior delt (primary focus)
  • Traps
  • Pecs
  • Biceps

Final Thoughts

So, there are seven shoulder exercises to grow your shoulders at home. You don’t need fancy cable equipment, kettlebells, or smith machines to work out your shoulders seriously. If you stick to these basic body weight and dumbbell/barbell exercises, you’ll see results in no time at all. Experiment with these exercises, and make sure you pick movements to work all three deltoid heads (anterior, lateral, posterior) to grow your shoulders effectively.

About the Author

James is a freelance writer with a passion for fitness. He has written for multiple businesses, and takes great pride in producing high-quality articles. When he’s not pounding away at the keyboard James is sweating it out at the gym, boxing, watching tennis, and playing video games

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