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The best workouts for strong shoulders

The shoulder muscles not only help stabilise your head and torso, but they are also extremely important for your body's load carrying abilities.

The best workouts for strong shoulders.
The best workouts for strong shoulders. (Istockphoto)

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Shoulders occupy a very important position in our life. They are extremely visible, and therefore the obsession with broad shoulders. But they also perform a very important load carrying role in our day-to-day life. And, of course, there is a premium placed on good looking, strong shoulders.

Even discounting the aesthetic reasons, shoulder strengthening exercises should be included in your workout routine to keep your shoulder joint stable, says Pawan Jani, Pune-based coach and co-founder of Chakra Fitness. “To push a great volume of weight one must have strong shoulders,” notes Rahul Huidrom, strength coach at “This feels like an inspirational quote but it is absolutely true. Also, there are many daily activities that use the shoulder muscles — lifting things, carrying groceries, manual labour, household chores, moving furniture, etc. It is therefore critical that they are able to handle the load well.”

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While the shoulder complex has about eight muscles that attach to the scapula, humerus, and clavicle, it is also the most mobile and unstable joint in the body. “The ‘ball’ in the upper arm is actually larger than the socket that holds it, and with the range of motion being so great, it is susceptible to injury,” explains Huidrom. “To remain stable, it must be kept in place by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Therefore, it is very important to make sure these soft tissues are strengthened to keep the shoulder strong, flexible, coordinated, and conditioned to handle stress. By strengthening the shoulder muscles we can also protect ourselves from injuries due to overuse of the shoulders.” By developing shoulder strength, one can not only protect the shoulder joint but also combat many kinds of shoulder pains and prevent further injuries, adds Jani. Moreover, strong shoulders help you efficiently perform everyday tasks such as lifting heavy objects or play sports.

The deltoid is largest of the shoulder muscles and gives the shoulder its rounded-off shape. It plays an important role in raising your arms and preventing joint dislocation while carrying heavy objects. Four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) make up the rotator cuff and the cuff stabilises the shoulder. Triceps brachii in the back of the upper arm helps straighten the arm; latissimus dorsi helps in rotation; pectorlis major, pectoralis minor, biceps brachii and teres major make up the rest of the shoulder complex. 

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Shoulder strengthening exercises should be an important part of everyone’s regular exercise routine, advise both Huidrom and Jani. “Strengthening this major muscle group has several positives, including improved posture and decreased back pain.That’s not all. When you combine shoulder strengthening exercises with shoulder stretches, it also gives you the strength and flexibility to easily perform everyday tasks. Having strong shoulders can also help prevent injuries to the rotator cuff,” says Huidrom.

Anecdotal evidence points to women feeling they should have a shoulder workout routine different from that of men. “The general perception is lean and petite figure or frame for women and bigger and stronger [frame] for men,” says Huidrom. Both Jani and Huidrom don’t see the need for a gender-based shoulder workout routine. “Both genders can have the same workout routine for shoulders and, for that matter, overall fitness. There is no difference when it comes to exercise selection but the goals can be different. It should be noted that sometimes women can gain strength faster than men,” he says.

Rahul Huidrom’s Shoulder Workouts

Workout 1

Four sets

Barbell Shoulder press: 6-10 reps

Three sets

Seated Arnold Press: 10-12 reps

Four Supersets

Upright Rows: 8-12 reps

Seated Lateral Raises: 8-12 reps

Four sets

Front Plate Raises: 8-12 reps

High rope Face Pulls: 12-18 reps

Workout 2

Four sets

Seated dumbbell Shoulder press: 6-10 reps

Three sets

Single Arm Cable Lateral Raises: 10-12 reps

Reverse Pec Dec: 12-14 reps

Seated Smith Machine Press: 8-10 reps

Four sets

Upright Rows: 12-14 reps

Barbell Shrugs: 8-12 reps

Workout 3

Three sets

Seated Alt Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 6-10 reps

Four sets

Barbell Push Press: 6-8 reps

Three Supersets

Seated Dumbbell Front Raises: 8-10 reps

Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly: 8-10 reps

Four sets

Dumbbell Shrugs: 8-12 reps

Three sets

Upright Rows: 10-12 reps

Pawan Jani’s Shoulder workouts

Workout 1

Four sets

Barbell Overhead Press: 8-10 reps

Three sets

Arnold Press: 10 reps

Lateral Raises: 12-15 reps

Barbell Front Raises: 12-15 reps

Workout 2

Four sets

Seated Machine Press: 8-10 reps 

Upright Rows: 12 reps

Three sets

Pullovers: 12 reps

Shrugs: 15 reps

Workout 3 

Four sets

Seated Alternate Dumbbell Press: 8 reps (each side)

Three sets

Rear Deltoid Fly: 15 reps

Plate Front Raises: 12-15 reps

Waiter’s Carry: 25 steps

    04.04.2022 | 10:07 AM IST

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