Skip to main content

Home Workout For Shoulder Strength: Small Dumbbells, Big Shoulders

workouts
(Image credit: Unknown)

If you were a regular gym-goer who would pick up a barbell and hit the cable machine when it was time to work your shoulders, you may have thought your deltoids would just have to go neglected during lockdown. Especially as many attempts to set up home gyms were frustrated when barbells and dumbbells of the weight you’d normally use sold out in the blink of an eye.

Well it’s time to dust your deltoids off, because hoisting the heaviest barbell possible isn’t the only way to build big shoulders. You can use light free weights (which are still available to buy) as long as you increase the time the shoulder muscles spend under tension. And that’s just what this home workout does.

There’s another advantage to this approach, which is that it’s safer. While your deltoids can handle significant amounts of weight, they’re also wrapped around one of the most injury-prone joints in your body, and once you blow a rotator cuff there’s not much you can do about it.

This home workout is designed to challenge the stabilizer muscles of your rotator cuff and then hit the delts from three angles, making sure they grow in every direction. Result: impressive, injury-free shoulders.

How To Do This Workout

Start with the push press: do ten to 15 reps over 30 seconds, then “rest” for 30 seconds with the weights held overhead. Repeat once for a two-minute set. Rest properly for two minutes, and do the whole thing twice more. Next, do 12 reps each of moves 2A, 2B and 2C without resting, then rest for one minute and repeat three times. If your shoulders feel toasty at the end, you’ve done it right.

1 30/30 push press

workouts

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Time 2min Rest 2min

For the working time, alternate between doing ten to 15 reps over 30 seconds, then holding the dumbbells overhead for 30 seconds.

Hold the weights by your shoulders, then lower into a quarter squat. Push up through your heels and press the weights overhead, then lower them under control. The “hold” is the challenging part, so use a weight that allows you to complete the move easily. During the hold, keep your midsection tight and brace your glutes to keep your lower back aligned and safe.

2A Lateral raise

workouts

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Start with the weights at your sides, then raise them to the sides, keeping them in line with your body and keeping your thumbs pointing slightly downwards. Stop just shy of shoulder-level to keep the tension on your delts.

2B Front raise

workouts

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Switch the focus to your front delts. Starting with the weights in front of you, slowly bring them up to just below eye level. Pause at the top, then lower slowly, keeping the weights under control.

2C Reverse flye

workouts

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 60sec

With a slight bend in your arms, bend forward at the waist – back straight, please – and bring the dumbbells up as if you were flapping your wings. Bring them back to the centre to complete the rep.

Model: Freddie Abrahams @WAthletic

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.