10 Best Single Arm Shoulder Exercises to build Deltoids

If you are searching for the best Single arm shoulder exercises, then you are at the right place. Here we cover the anatomy, functions of your deltoid, and know the best single arm shoulder exercises, execution techniques, pro-tips, for the best possible shoulder development.

In fitness, “shoulder exercises” refers to resistance exercises that target the deltoid muscle.

Shoulder Muscle (Deltoid Anatomy)

The deltoid is the superficial muscle that forms the rounded contour of your shoulder. While the deltoid is technically a single muscle, anatomically speaking it has three distinct sets of muscles fibers and muscle bellies, which are referred to as “heads.

The deltoid muscle of the shoulder consists of three separate sections or heads.

Shoulder Anatomy

In this post, we will give you some tips on how to grow your deltoid by performing single-arm exercises and providing you with single arm shoulder exercises.

10 Best One Arm Shoulder Workout

Here are the best Shoulder Exercises that you can do with one arm. It is the best unilateral exercise that increases shoulder strength, stability, and symmetry.

1. Dumbbell One Arm Shoulder Press

If you’re looking for straightforward Single Arm shoulder exercises to add to your routine, Dumbbell one-arm shoulder press, is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is an exercise that isolates the heads of the shoulders. The single-arm dumbbell shoulder press is a unilateral exercise that increases shoulder strength, stability, and symmetry.

Performing the exercise with one arm at a time will actively engage the core throughout the range of motion.

One Arm Shoulder Press
Muscles Worked

Primary: Anterior deltoid.

Secondary: Lateral deltoid, triceps, trapezius, upper pectoralis.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your one hand.
  2. Extend through your elbow to lift the dumbbell directly above you.
  3. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  4. After completing all reps on the right side, repeat on the left side. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Tips
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Don’t allow your torso to sway to one side or the other as you press the weight overhead.
  • Keep the tension on your shoulder as you press the weight up.

2. One-Arm Dumbbell Upright Row

Heavy Upright Row is one of the excellent single arm shoulder exercises to build huge Trapezius muscles and create that deltopectoral separation. Heavy Upright Rows along with shrugs can build massive traps.

One arm dumbbell upright row is the unilateral variation on the dumbbell upright. The single-arm dumbbell upright row is a popular movement for building stronger and bigger traps and shoulders.

One Arm Dumbbell Shrug
Muscles Worked

Primary: Lateral deltoid, Trapezius.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand at your side.
  2. Slowly shrug your left shoulder up toward your ear. At the top, pause for a moment and contract the muscles.
  3. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  4. After completing all reps on the left side, repeat on the right side. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Tips
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Keep your back straight and core tight.
  • Pause and squeeze the traps at the top of the movement, and then lower the dumbbells really slowly if you want to add a bit of intensity to the exercise.

3. Lying Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Lying Dumbbell Lateral Raise is another great exercise for your Single Arm Shoulder Exercises

It increases strength and stability throughout the entire shoulder. This exercise more specifically targets the side deltoid.

Having a great lateral head will give the illusion of a super-wide set of shoulders. Incline side laterals are perhaps difficult for beginners, but it is an interesting variation on conventional lateral raises.

Lying Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Muscles Worked

Primary: Lateral deltoid,

Secondary: Posterior deltoid, trapezius, rhomboids, infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie sideways on a flat bench, propping yourself up onto your elbow, so it is perpendicular to the bench.
  2. Hold the dumbbells so that they rest sideways on your upper thigh
  3. Slowly lift the dumbbells up and out to the sides of your body, pulling through the rear delts and middle traps.
  4. Pause a moment at the top of the motion before slowly lowering the weights back down to the starting position. The “top” of the movement is when the shoulder joint is at a 90-degree angle to the body.
Tips
  • Do not lift backward or forward.
  • Avoid using momentum. Focus on moving in a slow and controlled fashion the entire time.
  • Your working elbow should be slightly bent during the lift.

4. Dumbbell one-arm lateral raise

This Dumbbell shoulder exercise is performed with one arm at a time. Dumbbell one-arm lateral raise is an excellent exercise to isolate and build side deltoids. Must add this exercise in your single arm shoulder exercises arsenals.

To build the middle head of the deltoid muscle, make Dumbbell one-arm lateral raise a part of your deltoid exercises.

Dumbbell one-arm lateral raise
Muscles Worked

Primary: Lateral deltoid.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid, trapezius, supraspinatus.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand holding a dumbbell with one hand. Feet are shoulder-width apart and knees are slightly bent.
  2. Now bend your elbow and raise the dumbbell to your side.
  3. Lift them to a point slightly higher than your shoulder. Now lower the dumbbell in a controlled manner back to the starting position.
  4. Perform all reps on one side and then repeat with the other arm.
Tips
  • Pause for a moment at the top before slowly lowering the dumbbell back to the starting position.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Avoid arching of the lower back.
5. The Landmine overhead Press

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your one arm Shoulder workout, why not try Landmine Press?

It is not a popular exercise, yet it is one of the best single arm shoulder exercises that provide many benefits with regard to progressing your anterior deltoid and upper chest.

It can be performed in a standing position, which increases core involvement and can improve core stability and strength of the abdominal muscles.

The Landmine Chest Press
Muscles Worked

Primary: Inner and upper Pectoralis major, anterior deltoid

Secondary: Lateral deltoid, core, and triceps

Execution Technique
  1. Stand holding the weighted end of the barbell with both hands in front of your chest.
  2. Make sure the barbell is wedged securely in a landmine device or corner.
  3. Your feet should be level and shoulder-width apart.
  4. Press the weight up with both hands until your arms are extended, then bring it back down slowly.
Tips
  • Hold a neutral spine throughout the movement to prevent injury.
  • Exhale on pushing movement, inhale when returning to starting position.
  • Contract the chest muscle at the top of the movement.

6. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

The rear deltoid row exercise is simple and effective, that is used to target your lats and rear deltoids. This exercise is very similar to a basic one-arm dumbbell row for the lats, except with a couple of important modifications.

Although I do prefer the one-arm dumbbell variation since it allows you to keep your lower back supported and each arm works independently. Rear delt rows can also be done on both hands as well.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Row
Muscles Worked

Primary: Posterior deltoid, Lats

Secondary: Traps, Biceps, Rhomboids, Trapezius and Forearms.

Execution Technique
  1. Start by placing your right foot on the floor with your left knee resting upon a bench, keeping your body weight supported by your left arm.
  2. While keeping your back flat, pick up a dumbbell in your right hand.
  3. Begin by leading up with your elbow, bringing your arm up close to your chest, and squeezing with your back muscles.
  4. Once you reach the top of the exercise, stop and hold for a count, then return to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat.
Tips
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Always use weights that you can comfortably handle.

7. Side-Lying Rear Delt Fly

The side-lying rear delt fly is a shoulder exercise used to target the rear delts. It is a great unilateral exercise used to target a smaller and often lagging muscle group. Instead of lying on the floor, you can lie on a bench.

The side-lying reverse dumbbell fly is also known as the side-lying dumbbell rear delt raise.

Side-Lying Rear Delt Fly
Muscles Worked

Primary: Posterior Deltoid

Secondary: Lateral Deltoid, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Rhomboids, Middle and Lower Trapezius.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie on the floor on your right side, and grasp the dumbbell with your left hand using a neutral grip (palm facing downward).
  2. Keeping your elbow fixed and your body still, exhale as you raise the dumbbell from the floor until it is almost vertical. Hold for a count of two.
  3. Inhale as you reverse the movement and lower the dumbbell towards the starting position, stopping before the dumbbell touches the floor.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Repeat the exercise on your opposite side with your right arm.
Tips
  • Do not allow the dumbbell to touch the floor.
  • Keep the abs braced, and don’t arch the back at the top of the movement.
  • Allow the arms to move freely, but don’t lock out the elbows.

8. Single Arm Cable Front Raise

The front raise is one of the most common shoulder exercises you’ll see being done because it is effective in building the front delts.

By performing the Single Arm cable front raise exercise unilaterally, you’ll be able to focus on one side at a time. You’ll also be made aware of if you have any muscle imbalances that need attention.

One Arm Cable Front Raise
Muscles Worked

Primary: Anterior deltoid.

Secondary: Upper pectoralis, trapezius.

Execution Technique
  1. Attach a single grip handle to a low pulley cable machine. Stand facing away from the machine and grip the handle with your right hand using an overhand grip (palm facing down).
  2. For balance, stagger your feet. The foot in front should be the one that is opposite to your working arm.
  3. Keeping your elbow very slightly flexed, exhale as you raise the stirrup (handle) forward and upward in a semicircular motion until your arm is above horizontal.
  4. Hold for a count of two. Inhale as you slowly reverse the motion and lower the stirrup to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.
Tips
  • This is an isolation exercise, so the focus should be on form and muscle contraction, not weight.
  • Do not allow the handle to touch your body, and do not allow your body to move (or swing) throughout the movement.
  • Keep your back straight and your head up. Keep your body still. Only your arm should move.

9. One Arm Cable Lateral Raise

The one-arm cable lateral raise is an isolated shoulder exercise that targets the deltoids, while increasing stability in both the wrists and the core.

Cable lateral raise is a shoulder exercise that works the middle head of the deltoid muscle, which is the rounded muscle at the very top of each shoulder.

You can use both arms while performing the exercise, but it’s often recommended to use just one to add more difficulty to your workout and stimulate more gains.

One Arm Cable Lateral Raise
Muscles Worked

Primary: Lateral deltoid.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid, trapezius, supraspinatus.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand next to a cable pulley machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and the handle attachment adjusted to the lowest setting.
  2. To maintain good posture, push your chest forward, and point your shoulders back while slightly bending both knees.
  3. Grab the handle and stand straight up with your arm fully extended and feet facing forward. Maintaining a slight bend in your working elbow, raise your arm up to shoulder height.
  4. Hold for a second, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
Tips
  • Keep your torso still, your back straight, and your elbow slightly bent.
  • Don’t just swing your arms. Keep controlled motion throughout the exercise.
  • Always use weights that you can handle comfortably.

10. Cable Twisting Overhead Press

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective Single Arm Shoulder Exercises, try the Cable Twisting Overhead Press.

The twisting cable overhead press is a very effective shoulder press variation which works the anterior (front) deltoids. Now, it’s a pretty simple exercise to perform and anyone can do it effectively, which makes it ideal for size and strength gains.

The twisting cable overhead press is brilliant for developing unilateral upper-body strength, as well as improving your balance and the strength and stability of your core.

Cable Twisting Overhead Press
Muscles Worked

Primary: Anterior deltoid.

Secondary: Lateral deltoid, triceps, traps, upper pectoralis, Serratus Anterior, Gluteus Maximus, Core.

Execution Technique
  1. Attach a stirrup (handle) to a low or waist-high pulley. Grasp the stirrup with one hand.
  2. Spread your legs and squat a little, keeping your torso upright. Position the stirrup to the side of your body, with your elbow flexed and tucked in to your side.
  3. Exhale as you straighten your legs, twist your body, and press the stirrup diagonally upward and away from the pulley.
  4. Hold for a count of two. Inhale as you reverse the motion and return your body and the stirrup to the starting position.
  5. Complete the desired number of reps with your right arm. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.
Tips
  • You can place your free hand on your hip. You can squat as deep as you want to.
  • Furthermore, you can only perform this exercise with one arm at a time.

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