Dumbbell Shoulder Workout

By Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

Shoulder dumbbell exercises are a great way to workout and sculpt the shoulders in the gym or at your home.

Dumbbell shoulder workout on the beach

Which Exercise is Best for Shoulder?

Sculpting the shoulders is something you can do from home or in the gym.  At home, all you need is some dumbbells.  The shoulder is actually a joint group that moves to allow you to lift and move your arms.  Strengthening the shoulders with dumbbells is a great way to work all of the components of the shoulder.  Some of the best exercises for a dumbbell shoulder workout are:

  • Front Raises
  • Lateral Raises
  • Side-lying External Rotation
  • Horizontal Abduction
  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Biceps Curls
  • Triceps Extensions
  • Overhead Presses
  • Dumbbell Extensions

What Exercises are Bad for Shoulders?

Exercises that compress the rotator cuff muscles are not recommended for the shoulder. Using improper technique with shoulder exercise can be harmful to the shoulder, and the shoulder is avoided or adjusted.  Some examples of bad shoulder exercises include:

  • Lat pulldown exercises behind the neck can be compromising to the shoulder and the neck. It is best to pull the bar to the chest, in front of the body.
  • Military barbell press overhead behind the neck can also expose the shoulder and neck to problems. Bring the bar in front of the body.

To learn more about Bad Shoulder Exercises, Read this article on The 5 Worst Shoulder Exercises.

How Do I Build Muscles on My Shoulder?

In general, strength training is the key to better shoulder definition. Dumbbells are a great tool to use at home or in the gym. Choose a weight that allows you to perform the exercise properly for 8 to 12 repetitions.  It is also important to make sure the muscles around the shoulder blades are strong.  This can help place the shoulder in a better postural position and improve the mechanics of the shoulder.  It also may give the appearance of better muscle development.

At JOI Rehab, we recommend the following dumbbell exercises for your shoulder health.

Dumbbell Exercises for Shoulders 

Perform these exercises with 10 repetitions and try to do 2 to 3 sets.

Forward Raises

Dumbbell forward Raises help to the strengthen the shoulders.

Forward raises with dumbbells

Lateral Raises

Lateral Raises increase the strength of the deltoid muscles of the shoulder.

Lateral Raises with dumbbells

Side-lying External Rotation

Sidelying external rotation increases shoulder control.

Side-lying external rotation with dumbbells

Horizontal Abduction

Shoulder dumbbell exercises increase the strength of the back of the shoulder

Horizontal abduction

Dumbbell Rows


Dumbbell Extensions


Biceps Curls

Bicep Curls with dumbbells are good for the shoulders

biceps curls with dumbbells


Triceps workout with dumbbells can help sculpt the back of the arm.

triceps with dumbbells

Dumbbell Overhead Press

A dumbbell shoulder workout can be taught at JOI.

overhead press with dumbbells

What if I Have Pain With Shoulder Workouts with Dumbbells?

These are basic dumbbell exercises to increase strength and stability in the shoulder muscles. If you have pain or irritation with any of these exercises, attempt lowering the weight. It may be worth seeing a physician and getting a referral to physical therapy to develop a safe and effective exercise program for the shoulders if the pain does not go away.

If you would like to make an appointment with JOI, call JOI-2000. For physical therapy appointments, please call 904-858-7045, or click below for MD appointments.

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Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT is a content writer for JOI.

Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT – Medical Content Writer

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