Last Updated on August 8, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
Exercising is very important for our general health, but some of us have preferences for what to work on and how to workout.
There’s nothing wrong with this, and variety is always recommended when it comes to exercising.
However, sometimes you can get a little lost in the world of fitness and wonder what sort of exercises will be the most beneficial to your workout goals.
Perhaps you want to work your shoulders to gain strength for a sport or perhaps you do a lot of lifting at work and would like to make this work easier by building your shoulder muscles. Regardless, almost everyone wants to find the most effective and best possible choice to get results.
Well, dumbbell exercises should definitely be considered which is why we’ve decided to write this handy guide.
We’re going to show you some fantastic dumbbell exercises and shoulder workouts that will give you the best possible results you could hope for.
Read on to learn more!
The Dumbbell Shoulder Press
The dumbbell shoulder press is perhaps one of the most well-known exercises for this category.
It can be very beneficial if you carry out the exercise correctly and consistently.
When you do this workout, you’ll work a whole host of muscles but primarily you’ll be working the triceps and anterior delts.
There are a number of ways you can conduct this workout.
You may choose to do it sitting down or standing up, but it’s recommended that you do it sitting.
This is because not only will this isolate the muscle groups you want to work, but it also gives you a little more support and balance to your legs and back muscles.
The best way to do this workout is in reps of 10-15 per set, however, if you need to work your way up to this quantity please do so slowly to prevent injury. Since the shoulder muscles are considered smaller muscles, you will want to target them with higher reps instead of higher weight.
Even if you feel you can increase your weight more rapidly as you progress through your workouts, the shoulders are not the area you want to push yourself too hard on and you need to be sure you do not overload yourself and these muscles.
Again, think higher reps with the smaller muscle categories and feel free to allow yourself to go heavier on the bigger muscles, like chest, and legs. More often than not, the injury that sidelines someone and prevents them from working out is typically an injury within a smaller muscle category and is usually due to improper form or too much weight for the targeted area.
What To Do
To do this workout, you should:
- Select your chosen weight that works for you and know the amount of reps and sets you will be doing
- Lift the dumbbells at the same time above your shoulders and let them sit
- Ensure your palms are facing forward and push the weight straight up to the sky, allowing the weights to touch at the top
- Ensure you are doing full reps, both down and up, to get the most out of your workout
- Continue and repeat until your targeted sets and reps are completed
The Dumbbell Front Raise
If you’re looking to target the front of your shoulders, then the dumbbell front raise is a great workout for you.
Again, for this exercise you should use even lighter weights than normal as the front of your shoulders will tire easily. This will also allow you to really isolate the area you’re working on.
When doing your reps, make sure that you have a solid base and ensure that you’re not swinging the weights or using momentum to propel the weights in front of you.
What To Do
To do this one, you need to:
- Stand with two dumbbells with the correct weight that is right for you
- Raise one dumbbell in front of you, keeping your arm straight, while the other remains by your side
- Once your arm is parallel to the floor, bring the weight back down in a controlled manner
- Now switch sides and do the other arm with the other dumbbell
- Repeat this until your chosen sets have been completed
The Dumbbell Side Raise
This is a workout that will work the sides of your shoulders, which many people often overlook when it comes to shoulder exercises.
This is strange because this is the muscle that, when it builds, contributes the most to the overall appearance of the shoulder muscles.
Once again, it’s better not to use weights that are too heavy so that you can continue the reps and sets for longer.
You can also do this workout seated or standing, but it is still recommended to do this seated for the additional support.
What To Do
To carry out this workout, you need to:
- Get a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang at your sides with the weight
- Lift both arms out to your sides, keeping your arms straight, until they are stretched all the way out and parallel to the ground
- You should appear to be in the “bird” position with both arms straight out from your sides
- Slowly lower the weights at the same time
- Repeat for a chosen amount of reps and sets
- Ensure all reps are controlled
The Dumbbell Upright Row
This particular workout is lesser known among gym-goers, but it is very beneficial if you do them correctly.
This workout will target your shoulders and isolate all of the shoulder muscles, giving you a real burn. Like all shoulder exercises, make sure you are moving the weights in a controlled fashion and make sure you are not swinging back and forth or using your momentum to assist with the exercise.
What To Do
To do this exercise, you need to:
- Use can use slightly heavier weights as this is a compound exercise
- Stand upright with perfect posture, holding the weights with your palms towards you and weights resting on your upper thighs
- Move the dumbbells from your thighs to the top of your pecs, keeping the weight close to your body as you pull them up
- Keep your hands in a straight line up from your thighs which should be close to shoulder width
- Once lifted, pause at the top and then bring the weights down slowly
- Repeat this motion, working both shoulders at once, until to complete your desired reps and sets
The Dumbbell Bent Over Raise
If you’re looking to workout your delts, this is a great exercise for that.
This workout will work the muscles in your shoulders that are normally not utilized.
It’s better to use very light weights for this exercise and really focus on good, solid reps, as this one not only can injure your shoulders but can also injure your neck or back if not done correctly.
What To Do
To carry out this exercise, you need to:
- Ensure your head is in a neutral position so that you don’t cause damage to your neck
- Bend slightly at the waist, place your arms in front of you with your dumbbells, and bend your elbows slightly
- In a controlled manner, complete a reverse fly movement. You’ll move the dumbbells slightly behind your back, extending your arms out to your sides with the weights.
- Pause on the top, then lower the weights slowly, continuing until your workout is complete
The Dumbbell Swing
You don’t always have to have a kettlebell to do swing weight exercises! Using a dumbbell can be as beneficial and often is more readily found.
The dumbbell swing is really pretty simple, but again, you will want to make sure that it’s the shoulder muscles that are doing the work and not the momentum of the movement.
What To Do
Quite simply, to do this workout you need to:
- Find a moderate weight that’s right for you, gripping the weight with both hands with your arms straight out in front of you
- In a strong, balanced standing position, swing the weight slowly between your legs
- Allow your body to lower into a squat position as the weight comes down and then propel the weight forward as you stand back up
- You can stop the weight when your arms are straight out or you can lift the weight above your head for additional load
- Repeat this movement 10-15 times for your desired number of sets
The added bonus of this workout is that your heart rate will increase more than most of the others on this list, which will allow you to burn more calories!
The Bottom Line
When it comes to working out the shoulder muscles, we can often get confused and overlook certain muscle groups that we shouldn’t ignore.
To get the most out of a shoulder workout, you should always look to incorporate dumbbells and ensure you are always using weights that you can comfortably handle.
Remember, consistency is always going to be paramount when we are talking about any type of fitness, and this means ensuring you are always careful and never let your ego force you into an injury. It’s better to lift lighter today but be able to come back tomorrow versus lifting heavier today but unable to return to fitness for days or weeks at a time.
We hope this guide has been useful for you!