Best Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises
Performing a shoulder workout with dumbbells is fairly straightforward. Unlike back exercises, there are a number of ways to build shoulders with dumbbells. The exercises you can do at home are varied, and target each part of the deltoid (front, rear, and side).
Here is a selection of dumbbell shoulder exercises for you to try out:
Neutral Grip Push Press
This exercise is ideal for using at home, or in a crowded gym. It takes up very little space, only requires a set of hex dumbbells, and can burn a lot of calories.
- Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand resting at shoulder height. Use a neutral grip so that your palms are facing each other. The feet should be shoulder width apart. Bend the knees slightly, and then drive the dumbbells straight up in the air as you straighten your legs. Pause at the top, and then return the dumbbells to the starting position. The push press allows to lift a heavier weight as it incorporates lower body into the movement, creating momentum. It also works the whole body, so It is possible to burn more calories.
Bent Over Rear Delt Flyes
The rear delts are situated at the back of your shoulder and are crucial for good posture and injury prevention. The bent over rear delt fly is a great way to protect you against muscle imbalance, and it can really help to improve stability in your other exercises.
- Hold a light dumbbell in each hand, place the feet shoulder width apart and then bend your knees. Push the chest out and pull the shoulder blades together. Then bow forward until the chest is at a 45 degree angle to the floor. Hold the dumbbells with slightly bent arms, so that they are hanging below your chest. Then, with arms still bent, pull arms apart stopping once you feel a stretch at the back of your shoulder. Pause, and then return your arms to the starting position.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
The dumbbell shoulder press is one of the most effective shoulder exercises around. You can perform it either standing upright or seated on a bench. For this description, we will focus on the seated version (the upright version is almost identical to the push press, but without the bent knees).
- Sit on a bench with a dumbbell resting on each knee, raise the knee up and use the momentum to help raise the dumbbell to shoulder height. Bring your elbows out sideways with your palms facing forward (while holding the dumbbells tight). This is your starting position. Take a deep breath and then (while breathing out) drive the dumbbells up in the air and in an arc so that they finish together directly above the head. Pause, and then lower weights back down to shoulder height.
The dumbbell lateral raise is an excellent choice for strengthening the lateral deltoid. As with the bent over rear delt flyes, use a light weight and focus on technique.
- Stand upright with a set of hex dumbbells, one in each hand. Push the chest out and pull the shoulder blades together. Hold the weights by your side. Take a deep breath and then raise the dumbbells sideways until they are parallel to the ground. You should resemble a capital T at this point. Pause, and then slowly lower the weights back down.
Best Dumbbell Exercises for Back
The back is made up of the lower-back muscles, the latissimus dorsi (lats), and the trapezius (traps). There are also smaller muscles such as rhomboids that usually get classed as shoulder muscles.
We have included four exercises in this list, but only one of them is traditionally considered a true “Back” exercise in bodybuilding circles (bent over dumbbell row). Good Mornings work the lower back, upright rows and shrugs work the traps.
Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
This exercise is excellent for working the lats, biceps, and traps. You will often see people perform barbell bent over rows, but rarely the dumbbell version. The dumbbell row actually offers a better range of motion (which will lead to increased strength and hypertrophy).
- Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Push your chest out, pull your shoulder blades back together, and then bow forward so that your torso is at a 45 degree angle. Have your arms hanging down below your chest, then pull each dumbbell up until it is beside your chest. Pause, and then lower the weights back down again.
This exercise is amazing for strengthening the lower back, and it will make exercises such as bent over rows or bent over rear delt flyes a lot easier to perform. You will need a light set of dumbbells for this, ideally rubber ones as they need to be somewhat comfortable while resting on your shoulders.
- Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing straight forward. Bend your knees very slightly, but after that they need to stay static throughout. You want to place each dumbbell on your shoulders and have them rest there. Now you are going to pull your shoulder blades together and push your chest out. Then bow forward until your chest is almost parallel to the ground. Pause, and then return to the starting position.
Dumbbell Upright Row
- Grab hold of a light pair of dumbbells and put one in each hand. Stand upright with chest pushed out, shoulders pulled back, and feet shoulder width apart. Using an overhand grip, hold the dumbbells to your waist. Next, you want to pull the weights up your body, with your elbows flaring out to the side. Stop once your elbows are just past your shoulders, the dumbbells should be close together at the centre of your chest. Pause, and then lower the weights back down.
Shrugs are a great exercise for your traps and using dumbbells in a neutral grip can really help to improve the range of motion.
- Stand upright holding a hex dumbbell in each hand resting by your sides. Push your chest out and pull your shoulder blades back. Take a deep breath and then shrug your shoulders up as high as you can. Pause, and then slowly return them, breathing out as you do so. It is as simple as that.
Best Dumbbell Exercises for Arms
There are many variations of dumbbell exercises for your arms, but they are all remarkably similar to each other. We thought we would name two of our favourite dumbbell exercises. One for the biceps and one for the triceps.
The hammer curl works the biceps primarily, but also works the muscles in your forearm. Helping to increase your grip strength while also building bigger biceps.
- Stand upright with your chest pushed out and shoulders pulled back. Hold a hex dumbbell in each hand, hold the dumbbell like you would a hammer, with a neutral grip. Take a deep breath and then curl one arm upwards with your elbow locked in place beside your torso. Pause when the dumbbell has reached shoulder height, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back down again. Once the weight is back down to the starting position you can swap hands and repeat the movement.
The final exercise we are going to look at is one of the best tricep exercises out there. All you are going to need is an exercise bench and a pair of hex dumbbells. Lie on the bench with your head right at the very edge of it.
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip and raise your arms so that the dumbbells are directly over your chest with palms facing each other. Keeping your upper arms and elbows rigidly in place, curl the dumbbells until they are resting either side of your head. Pause, and then drive them back up to the starting position, keep your elbows straight and the exercise will target your triceps exclusively.
Exercises for your Shoulders, Back and Arms: Final Thoughts
In this article we have outlined what we believe to be the best dumbbell exercises for your shoulders, back and arms, perfect to tone up, burn calories and achieve goals like to get back in shape after the vacations. If you use all ten of these in your workouts you will see some amazing improvements in your upper body strength. Giving you toned arms, a great calorie-burning workout, and a reduced risk of injury.
Remember, rest in between sets, perform each rep with perfect form, and use a weight that is both challenging and safe. Good luck!