bodyweight shoulder exercises
Fitness

17 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises That Don’t Require A Gym

Muscular shoulders are among the most impressive body parts of the human body. Made up of three heads – the anterior, lateral, and posterior -they add width to your upper body and accentuate the classic V frame.

You don’t need to go to a gym full of barbells, dumbbells, and cables to get a great shoulder workout. In fact, you can do it with nothing but your own body weight.

Here are the 17 best bodyweight exercises for muscular, strong shoulders that you can do at home with no equipment whatsoever. 

1. Push Ups

via Gfycat

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, chest muscles, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands shoulder width apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe. Keep your elbows under shoulders.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 4 sets to failure (the point you cannot do another rep with proper form)

Tips 

Maintain a rigid body position; do not lift your butt into the air.

2. Handstand Push Up

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, chest muscles, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your back to a wall. Drop your hands to the floor and begin to walk your legs up the wall until you are completely upside down with your legs extended up the wall. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and arms extended. You will now be in a handstand position with your back and legs against the wall.
  2. From this starting position, lower your body to the floor until your head almost touches the ground.
  3. Push back to the start position.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Tips 

This is a very difficult exercise. Progress to the full handstand pushup by moving your hands further away from the wall. This is one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do for strong shoulders.

3. Decline Push Ups

via Gfycat

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, chest muscles, triceps

Equipment used 

Bench

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and your feet on a bench. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe at an angle of about 30 degrees.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position. Keep your feet shoulder width apart.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 4 sets to failure (the point you cannot do another rep with proper form)

Tips 

Increase the height of the bench to make the exercise more intense.

4. Triple Stop Push Ups

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, chest muscles, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands about shoulder width apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body to a half way position between the top and bottom of the movement. Hold for a count of 3.
  4. Continue descending until your chest is about an inch from the floor. Hold for another 3 count.
  5. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to come back up to a half way position. Hold for a further count of 3.
  6. Carry on to complete the rep.
  7. Perform 3 sets to 8-10 reps.
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Tips 

This is a difficult move; perform it slowly with full control, focusing on quantity rather than quality and using a deliberate motion. Maintain a neutral position through the spine.

5. Medicine Ball Push Ups

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, posterior delts, chest muscles, triceps, core muscles

Equipment used 

Medicine ball

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands on top of a medicine ball and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chin touches the medicine ball.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Tips 

This exercise does a great job of recruiting the stabilizer muscles around your shoulders and in your core. Keep your entire body tight and perform each rep slowly and deliberately. Maintain a neutral position through the spine.

6. Push Up Plus

Muscles worked

Rear deltoids

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor resting on your forearms which are set at shoulder width and with your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. From this starting position, drop your shoulder blades and shrug downward.
  3. Reverse the action to shrug your shoulder blades up in an exaggerated motion.
  4. Perform 3 set of 12 reps.

Tips 

The only actin should be through your shoulder blades and rear deltoids. Keep it strict to really hit this area.

7. Pull Ups

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, rear deltoids

Equipment used 

Pull Up Bar

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Hang from a pull up bar with your hands slighter wider than shoulder width apart in an overhand grip and your body straight (do not bend your knees)
  2. Depress your shoulder blades, engage the lats and thrust your chest up.
  3. Pull yourself up to the bar to bring your chin over the bar.
  4. Lower to full extension.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Tips 

Do no use momentum or ‘kip’ to get your body up to the bar.

8. Pull Up Hold

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, rear deltoids

Equipment used 

Pull Up bar

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Hang from a pull up bar with your hands slighter wider than shoulder width apart in an overhand grip and your body straight (do not bend your knees)
  2. Depress your shoulder blades, engage the lats and thrust your chest up.
  3. Pull yourself up to the bar to bring your chin over the bar.
  4. Hold the top position for a 5 count
  5. Lower to full extension.

Tips 

  1. Tense your delts very strongly during the 5 second hold; keep your body straight throughout the movement.

9. Bear Crawl

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, lateral deltoids, rear deltoids

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on all fours, with the points of contact with the floor being your palms and toes. Your hands should be directly under your shoulder.
  2. From this starting position, lift your butt and begin crawling forward taking large ‘steps’ with your one hand at a time and then following through with your legs. 
  3. Crawl forward 5 steps and then back 5 steps to perform one rep.
  4. Perform 5 ‘reps’ of this exercise.
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Tips 

Keep your butt in the air and put your body weight on your shoulder muscles and your arms. Maintain a neutral position through the spine.

10. Close Grip Push Up

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, triceps, pectorals, posterior delts

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands about two inches apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top regular push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 4 sets to failure (the point you cannot do another rep with proper form)

Tips 

This is a difficult form of push-up. If you cannot perform more than 4 reps, bring your hands wider apart, to a distance of about six inches between your thumbs. Keep your body steady throughout.

11. Handstand Walkout

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, pectorals, triceps, posterior delts

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your back to a wall. Drop your hands to the floor and begin to walk your legs up the wall until you are completely upside down with your legs extended up the wall. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and arms extended.
  2. From this starting position, walk your body out from the floor three ‘steps’.
  3. Walk back 3 steps to return to the start position.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Tips 

Keep your upper body tight throughout the movement. Perform your reps in a fluid manner without any pause.

12. Shoulder Tap

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, pectorals, triceps, posterior delts, middle delts

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands under your shoulders and your feet wide apart. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top plank position.
  3. Bring your right hand up and cross to touch your left shoulder.
  4. Lower and repeat with the left hand.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.

Tips 

To make this exercise more intense perform a push-up between each shoulder tap. Maintain core stability throughout the exercise in the plank position. 

13. Half Planche Push Up

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, pectorals, triceps, rear delts, rotator cuff muscles, middle delts

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands alongside your chest, palms on the floor on  reverser position with your fingers pointing behind you.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  4. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is a few inches from the floor.
  5. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Tips 

This is a very intense exercise. Perform it slowly and deliberately, increasing your range of motion as you become more proficient.

14. Crab Walk

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, pectorals, triceps, medial deltoids, posterior delts

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on all four in a face up position with your palms nd heels being the points of contact. Your hands should be in a reverse position with fingers pointing forward.
  2. Bend your knees and keep your hips down.
  3. Begin a backward crawl by walking your hands and feet back five paces and then coming back 5 paces to the start position.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 5 reps.

Tips 

Keep your hips down and your weight on your shoulders and arms in the crab position.

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15. Inverted Row

via Gfycat

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, posterior delts, middle delts

Equipment used 

Bar 

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Set up a bar about four feet from the floor. Lie under and grab the bar with hands shoulder width apart. Your body should be form a straight line with your heels on the floor.
  2. Pull your body up to the bar until your chin touches.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.

Tips 

Engage the lats as you pull up to the bar; keep your core tight throughout the movement. Move through your reps in a fluid motion.

16. Archer Push Up

Muscles worked

Lateral deltoids, pectorals, triceps, posterior delts

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands under your shoulders and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Extend your right arms out to the side to full extension, keeping the left hand under your shoulder.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8 reps on each side.

Tips 

This is an advanced push-up variation that will really engage your lateral deltoids. If it is too tough for you, bring your extended hand a little closer to your body. Progressively extend it out further over time. 

17. Archer Pull Ups

Muscles worked

Front deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, middle delts

Equipment used 

Pull Up Bar

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Hang from a pull up bar with your hands wide apart in an overhand grip and your body straight (do not bend your knees).
  2. Depress your shoulder blades, engage the lats and thrust your chest up.
  3. Pull yourself up to the bar to bring your chin over the bar.
  4. Now pull your body across to touch the chin to your right hand.
  5. Lower to full extension.
  6. Pull your body up to the bar and move across to your left hand.
  7. Perform 3 sets of 6-8 reps on each side.

Tips 

This is an advanced exercise. Keep your upper body rigid and perform your reps slowly and deliberately.

Conclusion

You don’t have to join a gym to blast your deltoids to new growth. The body that you were born with provides everything you need to hit all three delt heads to create thick, wide 3-d shoulders that will take your physique to the next level.

Work through our 17 best exercises for shoulders, selecting 2 each workout and performing a total of 8 sets with reps ranging between 20 and 6. Do this every 5 days and you will be rewarded with huge, wide boulder shoulders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you build shoulders without presses?

Yes, you can build shoulders without presses. Overhead presses are not an effective shoulder developer as they do not move any of the 3 deltoid heads through their range of motion. The best exercise for the front delts is the seated front press. Hit the side delts with cable side laterals and concentrate on rear delts with reverse cable cross-overs.

How do I get defined shoulders at home?

To get defined shoulders at home, work through the 17 shoulder bodyweight exercises covered in this article. Combine this with a reduced-calorie low-carb diet to strip off body fat and bring out your body’s definition.

Is it OK to do push-ups every day?

I would recommend not doing push-ups every day as you need to allow your chest, shoulder, and triceps muscles time to recover and grow between workouts. Allow at least 48 hours between push-up workouts for maximum effect.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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