21 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises: Beginner to Advance

Big, strong, rounded shoulders have numerous benefits besides just looking good. The deltoids are amongst the most important muscles in the body as we use them in everyday life activities to push, pull and lift objects over our heads.

Not only does the shoulder joint have the largest range of motion in the body, but the muscles of the shoulder girdle are also responsible for moving your arms wherever you need them to go.

In this Post, we will cover the best bodyweight Shoulder exercises, execution technique, pro-tips, for the best possible shoulder development.

Know About Shoulder Muscles

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

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

Benefits of Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

Several advantages come from incorporating Bodyweight shoulder exercises at Home into your deltoid workouts plan.

  • Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises allow for greater joint safety and stabilization.
  • It affords a greater level of variety, which prevents physical and mental burnout.
  • It’s allow unilateral training (training one limb at a time), increase core stability for athletes, and improve any muscular imbalances.
  • Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises allow the joints to move naturally within their range of motion by creating more joint stability.
  • Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises are perfect for the at-home exerciser with the limited space.

21 Bodyweight Exercises to Strengthen Your Shoulders

Try these 21 bodyweight exercises from the pros to help you get your shoulders in shape.

Beginner Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

1. I, Y, T, W

These exercises focus on the shoulder and back muscles, mainly the middle and lower part of the trapezius. They also hit all rotator cuff muscles which include the infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor, and supraspinatus muscles. These work together to stabilize the shoulder and move the arm.

Execution Technique

  1. Lay with your stomach flat on the ground with your arms and legs fully extended.
  2. Point your toes away from your body and fully extend your elbows and fingers, positioning your palms facing inwards.
  3. Brace your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine, depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders back and down) and attempt to hold these positions (I, Y, T, W) throughout the exercise.
  4. Align your head with your thoracic (upper) spine.

I’s

I’s
  1. Gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor (maintain a formation of the letter “I”), with palms facing inward.
  2. Keep your head aligned with your thoracic (upper) spine.
  3. Focus on generating most of your lift through your shoulders and not the low back, although some low back extension (arching) is acceptable.
  4. Hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds, then relax and return to your starting position.

Y’s

Y’s
  1. Gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor, moving your arms into the “Y” formation (45-degree angle to form the letter “Y”) as illustrated with palms facing inward.
  2. Maintain your head alignment with your thoracic (upper) spine.
  3. Focus on generating most of your lift through your shoulders and not the low back, although some low back extension (arching) is acceptable.
  4. Hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds, then relax and return to your starting position.

T’s

T’s
  1. Gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor, moving your arms into the “T” formation (90-degree angle to form the letter “T”) as illustrated with palms facing forward.
  2. Maintain your head alignment with your thoracic (upper) spine.
  3. Focus on generating most of your lift through your shoulders and not the low back, although some low back extension (arching) is acceptable.
  4. Hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds, then relax and return to your starting position.

W’s

W’s
  1. Gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor, flexing (bending) your elbows and dropping them to a 45-degree angle to the sides of your body as illustrated with palms facing inward (“W” formation to form the letter “W”).
  2. Maintain your head alignment with your thoracic (upper) spine.
  3. Focus on generating most of your lift through your shoulders and not the low back, although some low back extension (arching) is acceptable.
  4. Hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds then relax and return to your starting position.
Pro Tips
  • Try holding for only five or 10 seconds for the first time, and work up to 30 seconds in future workouts.
  • Move your arms slowly up and down in each position of I, T, and Y.
  • To increase the difficulty for either version, add a 1-3 pound weight in each hand.
  • Do not hold your breath. Breathe regularly.

2. Incline Push-Ups

Pushups are a great multi-functional exercise because they work the entire upper body and back. Push-Ups can be a real challenge if done from various angles.

 Incline Push-Ups

Execution Technique

  1. Stand in front of the bench. Place the hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the bench.
  2. Adopt an incline plank position by extending the legs backward until the legs and back form a straight line.
  3. Slowly bend the arms to lower the chest toward the bench. Remember to keep the elbows and arms close to the body.
  4. Slowly push the body away from the bench, extending the arms but maintaining a slight bend in the elbow.
Pro Tips
  • Exhale while you exert.
  • Stand at a comfortable distance from the bench.

3. Forearm Side Plank

The forearm side plank is one of the best abs exercises for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles and shoulder muscles.

You will hold your body on your side in a straight position, supported only by one arm and the side of one foot. Strong obliques can be quite useful as core stabilization muscles.

Forearm Side Plank

Execution Technique

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on top of the inner side of your right foot and your left arm rested on top of your left side.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right forearm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Lift your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath you with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the floor.
  4. In this position, only your right forearm and the outer side of your right foot are making contact with the floor and your body forms a diagonal line that is at about a 20-degree angle to the floor.
  5. Keep your abs pulled in tight and hold this position for as long as you can and then repeat on the left side.
Pro Tips
  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during this oblique exercises.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

4. Bench Dips

A bench dip is a medium-intensity exercise that uses your own bodyweight to strengthen your triceps and deltoid.

Bench dips are fairly simple to learn and can be done almost anywhere, making them bodyweight shoulder exercises for home-workout.

Bench Dip

Execution Technique

  1. Place your hands on the side of a flat bench so that your body is perpendicular to the bench when you place your feet out in front of you.
  2. Only your heels should be on the floor and your legs should be straight. Keep your knees and hips bent.
  3. Your arms should be fully extended with just your palms on the bench.
  4. Bend your elbows to lower your body down until your elbows reach 90 degrees.
  5. Now extend your arms to lift your body back to the starting position, flexing your triceps hard at the top.
Pro Tips
  • Really squeeze the triceps at the top of the movement to get the most out of this exercise.
  • Do not dip down too low as it places unnecessary strain on the shoulder joints.

5. Bird Dog Exercise

The bird dog is an exercise that looks elegant and is also very effective for training the abs muscles, lower back, and shoulder muscles. Several other muscles are also addressed, including the glutes and hamstring. 

The bird dog is a real stability exercise that ensures a stable trunk. It owes its name to the position which alternates between sitting on hands and knees (dog) and stretching the arms and legs (bird).

Bird Dog Exercise

Execution Technique

  1. Get on your knees and place your hands on the floor in front of your body at shoulder width.
  2. Contract your abs and lift one hand and the opposite knee slightly off the floor. You are now balancing on the other hand and knee.
  3. Now extend your arm and leg all the way out. Try to form a straight plane from your hand to your foot.
  4. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the other side.
Pro Tips
  • This exercise gets harder when you perform the exercise on your toes instead of your knees.
  • Don’t raise your leg and arm higher than your back. The exercise works best when you form a straight plane from your hand to your ankles.

Intermediate Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

6. Plank to Push-up

A Plank to Push-up is a full-body exercise and variation of a plank. The move takes a standard plank to the next level by adding an element of controlled, moving arm work.

Maintaining a plank position, you alternate between a forearm plank and a high plank. This exercise serves as an excellent core and upper body strengthener.

Plank to Pushup

Execution Technique

  1. Lie faces down on an exercise mat with hands should be shoulder-width apart; your knees should be about hip-width apart, your head facing forward, and palms flat on the floor.
  2. Start to get in a pushup position, bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands.
  3. Keep your core, butt, and quads tight, and avoid arching your back. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
  4. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut. Press your body up into the top position of a pushup by extending your arms one at a time.
  5. Pause, then reverse the movement and return to your elbows. That’s 1 rep
Pro Tips
  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during the exercise
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

7. Plank to alternate pike

The plank pike is an effective exercise that develops shoulder strength and core stability while increasing stability and mobility throughout the spine and hip region.

Must add this exercise to your Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises in your workout arsenal.

Execution Technique

  1. Start in plank position resting on your elbows directly beneath your shoulders, and your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Make sure that your body is in a completely straight line from your shoulders to ankles.
  3. Tighten your abs and raise your hips into the air as high as possible, pausing for a moment at the top before lowering back into the starting position.
Pro Tips
  • Do not allow your back to round at any point.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes to maintain stability throughout the entire exercise.
  • Press down forcefully with your forearms to make your abs work harder.Tip

8. Tabletop Reverse Pike

Table-top reverse pike targets and trains your arms and core and improves your overall strength and stability. This exercise additionally engages your shoulders, glutes, and legs. Providing you with excellent full-body exertion.

Tabletop Reverse Pike

Execution Technique

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place your palms, with fingers spread wide, on the floor slightly behind and outside your hips.
  2. Press palms into the ground and lift hips off the floor until knees are at 90 degrees, and body is parallel with the floor.
  3. Arms should be straight with hands directly under the shoulders with ankles directly under knees.
  4. Engage your abs and balance on your heels and hands.
  5. Hold this position for a set amount of time.
Pro Tips
  • Your arms should be vertical and your body should be perfectly straight.
  • Don’t allow your hips to sag or your shoulders to hunch.

9. Crab Walk

The Crab Walk is an excellent full-body exercise that particularly works the upper arms, shoulders, upper legs, and core.

It is excellent for toning, effectively targeting all your muscle groups and working them hard to build strength.

Moves like the crab walk are great total-body exercises that don’t require any additional equipment, making them ideal moves to perform when you don’t have a lot of time or fitness gear on hand.

Crab Walk

Execution Technique

  1. Position your hands and feet so that they are flat on the ground, and you are face up.
  2. Lift your butt up off the ground by tightening your gluteal muscles.
  3. Begin “walking” by first moving your hands and then your feet.
  4. Avoid excessive shoulder strain by moving your hands no more than 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) at a time.
Pro Tips
  • As a caution, do not let your feet get moving too fast for your upper body so as not to injure your shoulders.
  • Control your movements

10. Hindu push-up

The Hindu push-up is a traditional Indian-style exercise practiced by wrestlers. Each repetition includes going from a downward dog position to a cobra pose, swooping by holding the head and body close to the ground.

The arms would be straight at the beginning and the end of the exercise. This variety of push-ups has existed for centuries among Indian martial artists. It works on core strength, shoulders, hips, and triceps.

Hindu pushup

Execution Technique

  1. Start in a downward dog pose, with your hands shoulder-width apart, your body in a V shape, and your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows and lower your chest until it’s just above the floor, going into low plank pose.
  3. In a scooping motion, scoop your head upward while arching your lower and upper back and go into cobra pose.
  4. Return to the starting position, you do not need to reverse back through the sweeping, arching motion. Simply push back into the starting position.
Pro Tips
  • Engage your core, relax the spine and neck, open the shoulders and keep the movement smooth.
  • keep the elbows close to your body.
  • Remember to breathe correctly as you do the push-ups.

11. Archer Push-Up

In Archer push-up, the arms are kept wider than the normal push-up position and as you lower your body, you transfer the majority of your weight to one of your hands and incline towards that hand while the other hand is kept straight. Simultaneously move your body to both sides. You have to maintain a tight, steady, and controlled body to perform an Archer push-up. 

Archer Push-Up

Execution Technique

  1. Start in a standard pushup position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and elbows completely locked out.
  2. Maintain a strong core position and shift your upper body toward your right side. Pull your right chest toward your right hand as you bend your right elbow.
  3. As you lower toward the right side, allow your left arm to straighten. Your left arm should be fully extended, forming a straight line from your shoulder to your hand.
  4. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions, switch sides.
Pro Tips
  • Don’t let your hips raise up.
  • Make sure your body is in the straight line from head to the feet

12. Shoulder Tap Push Up

Shoulder Tap Push-Up is a full-body strength move that focuses on your arms, shoulder, and chest while also strengthening your core.

Once you can do at least 10 full push-ups, you should be able to start incorporating some shoulder taps into the mix. Be sure to rely on the strength of your core for most of the move.

Shoulder Tap Push Ups

Execution Technique

  1. Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you
  2. Lower yourself by flexing your elbows so that your chest comes within a few inches of the floor, making sure your body is in a straight line from your head to your knees.
  3. Raise your body to the starting position by pushing up with your arms. Tap your left hand to your right shoulder while engaging your core and glutes to keep your hips as still as possible.
  4. Place it back on the floor and repeat your next push up and shoulder tap with another hand.
Pro Tips
  • Tighten your core, engage your glutes, and keep your spine, head and neck aligned.
  • Do not let your lower back sag or your butt rise. Ensure your body is straight and rigid.
  • Your arms should resemble an arrow in the bottom position, not a “T”

13. Plank with Arm Extension

There are several variations to the basic plank exercise. Plank with arm extension is just one of these variations. Simply holding a plank position is a tough workout for your core. Plank with arm extension doubles the difficulty by asking you to hold that position with one arm raised in front of your body.

The main goal of this great core and shoulder exercise is to raise one arm off the floor so that your fingers are pointing straight ahead with your palm facing inward.

Plank with Arm Extension exercise

Execution Technique

  1. Lie face down on an exercise mat with your elbows to your sides, your head facing forward, and palms flat on the floor.
  2. Start to get in a push-up position, bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands.
  3. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
  4. Raise and straighten your left arm, and hold it so that it’s parallel to the rest of your body.
  5. Hold this position for a set amount of time and slowly lower to the starting position, then raise your other arm and repeat.

Pro Tips

  • Do not let your lower back sag or your butt rise. Ensure your body is straight and rigid.
  • Keep your glutes and core muscles contracted.
  • Your neck should be in line with your body, not tilted up, which could strain the neck.

14. Stability Ball Push Up

Using an exercise ball, giving you an uneven surface to increase the difficulty of exercise, which help to involve the shoulder and triceps more.

You’ll have to focus on maintaining your balance on the ball, which allows you to work more than you would be performing the standard, floor-bound version of the classic move.

Stability Ball Push Up

Execution Technique

  1. Lay with your chest on the stability ball. Place your hands on the ball at the sides of your chest. They will be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place feet back and lean forward so that your chest is directly over the ball and you are supported on your toes.
  3. Push your body up until your arms are almost straight (do not lock your elbows). Pause here for a second.
  4. Breathe out and extend your arms to bring your upper body back to starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Pro Tips
  • Do not let your lower back sag or your butt rise. Ensure your body is straight and rigid.
  • Keep your glutes and core muscles contracted.
  • Your neck should be in line with your body, not tilted up, which could strain the neck.

Advanced Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

15. High reverse plank

The reverse plank exercise is a great bodyweight Shoulder exercises for strengthening your core and the key muscles of your posterior chain, namely, your erector spinae, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings.

Beginners should start with learning the regular plank. Progress to holding the reverse plank for just a few seconds at a time with good form.

High reverse plank

Execution Technique

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place your palms, with fingers spread wide, on the floor slightly behind and outside your hips.
  2. Raise your hips off the floor until your body is straight. keep your arms and legs straight and Look up to the ceiling.
  3. Keep your entire body strong and form a straight line from your head to your heels.
  4. Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine
  5. Hold this position for a set amount of time.
Pro Tips
  • Your arms should be vertical and your body should be perfectly straight.
  • Don’t allow your hips to sag or your shoulders to hunch.

16. Inverted Row

The inverted row is another name for bodyweight rows. It’s also known as an Australian pull-up. The inverted row puts your body in a horizontal position, making it easier to perform.

It also works the back and shoulder muscles from a different angle and improves scapular retraction.

Inverted Row

Execution Technique

  1. Adjust the height of the chair and bar so that it’s a little higher than arm’s length from the floor.
  2. Lie under the bar with your legs and body straight. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip that’s a little wider than shoulder width.
  3. Keeping your legs and body straight, exhale as you pull your chest up to the bar. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your back muscles.
  4. Inhale as you lower your body until your arms and shoulders are fully extended. Repeat.
Pro Tips
  • Do not allow your butt to sag. Flex your tummy, squeeze your butt cheeks, and keep your body stiff from your head to your toe.
  • Make sure you go down completely. Lower your body and ensure the arms are extended and raise your body until you touch the chest touches the bar.

17. Pike Push Up

Pike Push-ups aka shoulder push-up is a variation of the push-up that increases strength and stability in the shoulders and triceps. Performing the exercise in a more upright position will target the shoulders more than the chest.

The pike push-up looks like a mash-up of Downward-Facing Dog and Dolphin Pose, and this move can build major strength.

Pike Push Up

Execution Technique

  1. Start in a standard push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and elbows completely locked out.
  2. Lift the hips up and back until your body forms an inverted V shape. Keep arms and legs as straight as possible.
  3. Slowly lower the top of your head towards the ground. Once your head is about to make contact with the ground, pause for a second.
  4. Then slowly push back until your arms are straight, and you’re in the inverted V position.
Pro Tips
  • Make sure you maintain control throughout the movement.
  • Keep your back neutral and knees straight throughout the exercise.

18. Clapping push-up

Clapping Push-ups aka Plyometric (plyo) push up is an advanced exercise that works your chest, triceps, abs, and shoulders. With this type of push-up, a “jumping” element is added to the exercise to make it more challenging and explosive.

Plyo pushups can help burn fat and build muscle. Many athletes perform them to help improve their athletic performance by building strength, endurance, and speed.

Clapping push-up

Execution Technique

  1. Start in a standard Push-Ups with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core by contracting your abs.
  3. Start to lower your body as if you’re going to do a push-up until your chest is almost touching the floor.
  4. Reverse the motion by pushing hard through the palms, just as your arms reach full extension, pull your hands up off the floor. Rapidly clapping the hands together and placing them back in the original position before your body falls back to the ground.
Pro Tips
  • Be sure to exhale when exploding off the ground and inhaling on the way down.
  • Do not let the elbows flare out. Keep the elbows close to your sides throughout.
  • Keep the core tight and back flat throughout the movement.

19. Elevated pike push-up

By elevating your feet on a box, you advance these holds because you are now stabilizing a heavier percentage of your bodyweight on your arms.

Each of the setups steps from above still applies. This step allows you to make greater strength gains while also eliminating the fear of falling over.

Elevated pike push-up

Execution Technique

  1. Start in a standard push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and elbows completely locked out. Elevate your feet to an appropriate height for your current strength.
  2. Lift the hips up and back until your body forms an inverted V shape. Keep arms and legs as straight as possible.
  3. Slowly lower the top of your head towards the ground. Once your head is about to make contact with the ground, pause for a second.
  4. Then slowly push back up until your arms are straight, and you’re in the inverted V position.
Pro Tips
  • Be sure to have first mastered the pike press before trying the elevated pike press.
  • Make sure you maintain control throughout the movement.
  • Keep your back neutral and knees straight throughout the exercise.

20. Handstand Push Up

The handstand push-up also called the vertical push-up is a type of push-up exercise where the body is positioned in a handstand.

To prepare the strength until one has built adequate balance, the feet are often placed against a wall, held by a partner, or secured in some other way from falling. Handstand push-ups require significant strength, as well as balance and control if performed free-standing.

Handstand Push Up

Execution Technique

  1. Place hands about 6-12 inches away from the wall and slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Make sure palms are facing forward, or slightly turned out 5-10 degrees.
  2. Kick up into a handstand, with your heels touching the wall. Once you have kicked up, establish a strong, rigid midline position.
  3. While maintaining this position, lower yourself until the top of your head touches the floor/mat. Try to keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle as you lower.
  4. Once your head touches the floor, press up with the same tightness you had lowering yourself, until your elbows reach full extension.
Pro Tips
  • Not to arch your back and keep contract your abs.
  • Do not do this move on consecutive days. Rest for at least 2 days before trying this move again to give your body time to recover.
  • Point your toes, squeeze your glutes, and grip the ground with your fingertips for a better feeling of stability.

21. Parallel Bar Dip

Bar Dip is an excellent exercise to build lower Chest muscles. It also works on Triceps and anterior deltoid. This exercise is done on a pair of Parallel bars.

Parallel Bar Dips (Chest Dip)

Execution Technique

  1. Hold onto the parallel bars and raise yourself at arm’s length.
  2. Using your arms, lower yourself as low as possible, feeling a good stretch in your chest muscles.
  3. Press back up and feel a good chest contraction in addition to your triceps, which are obviously contracting hard now.
Pro Tips
  • Hold a dumbbell between your legs if you need additional resistance.
  • A little forward body bend will hit the chest muscles harder.

Conclusion

These Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises are highly recommended for anyone interested in building a wider shoulder and who wants to gain strength.

It not only allows for targeted muscle development, but also provides an overall 3D look to the shoulder. It is easy to do and requires no more scientific details and fancy equipment. Incorporate some exercise from these 21 exercises into your workout regimen.

If you do these Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises consistently, the results will speak by themselves.

Thanks for reading, enjoy working your Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises!

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