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Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises

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Too much weight and too little stability are the reasons we’ve cited that increase risk of a shoulder injury. Dumbbell shoulder exercises are at the crux of these two because they incorporate weight and require you to have proper form. This is why controlling your shoulders during these exercises is key. The less random movement the better. Dumbbells also add the ability to use alternating shoulder exercises. Here are a few things you can do to help reduce the risk of injury when performing these exercises.

Tip for Proper Shoulder Workout Form

There are small tips that you can use in the gym when performing dumbbell shoulder exercises that will help reduce the risk of your injury. We’ve said that you should be mindful to have the least random movement possible. This can be vague. Let’s look at an example for how to bring this into the gym. When doing any type of shoulder press, press the weight straight up and down. You will see a lot of people in the gym touching the weights together at the top of the press. This isn’t ideal, because it’s an unnatural movement. You don’t gain anything by pushing the heavy weight together at the top of the press. Instead, push the weight straight overhead. Single-arm movements are another common shoulder exercise. There’s even more opportunity to sway your shoulders off the course. Whether alternating shoulder presses or dumbbell front raises keep the weight going straight up-and-down instead of side-to-side.

Exercise Instructions: Dumbell Shoulder Exercises

You can see a list of dumbbell shoulder exercises below. You can learn more about shoulder workouts here, or if you’d prefer to get started doing workouts right now, start your free trial on Daily Spot. You may also notice that some of these workouts involve cables. We've included cable workouts here because they work the same muscles as dumbbell workouts, but they may offer a more controlled alternative. Consult with the trainer at your gym if you have questions about your form.

Cable Reverse Fly

Stand at cable machine and grip the cable handle with the opposite arm. Keeping elbows high, extend cable handles to sides, maintaining

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Dumbbell Arnold Press

Sitting on bench, hold dumbbells with your palms facing you, weights in front of face. Keep core tight and upper-body still. Press the weights above your head while rotating your palms forward. Slowly return to starting position.

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Dumbbell Farmers Walk

Stand between dumbbells and lift them up by driving through your heels. Keeping your back straight and your head up, walk taking short, quick steps. Typically walk for 50-100 feet

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Standing with feet shoulder width apart, hold DB's in front of you with palms facing each other. Raise the weights by raising your arms out to the sides, elbows bent slightly, until you reach shoulder height. Lower the weights back to starting position.

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Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, start with the weights at shoulder height. Exhale and press the dumbbells over your head by straightening your arms. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

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Dumbbell Shrug

Stand with feet shoulder width and a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended on the sides. Lift the dumbbells by raising the shoulders as high as possible.

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Incline Bench Dumbbell Reverse Fly

Lay chest down on an incline bench with DBs in hands at sides. Contract your rear delts to raise DBs up laterally.

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Single-Arm Cable Lateral Raise

While standing at cable machine, hold handle at your side. Without rocking your body, lift the handle by raising your arms out to the side until you reach shoulder height. Lower the weights back to starting position.

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Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Stand with your feet shoulder width and dumbbells at shoulder height. Exhale and press the dumbbells over your head by straightening your arms. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

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Standing Single-Arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Stand with a dumbbell in one hand, start with the weight at shoulder height. Exhale and press the dumbbell over your head by straightening your arm. Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. After set, switch arms.

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Barbell Shoulder Exercises

There are primary benefits of shoulder strength which include size, injury prevention, and appearance. Shoulders, like biceps, have [relatively] minimal fat covering up the muscle. This means that your shoulders are one of the first muscles that you’ll notice visual results from after you begin working out. Those are the primary benefits. There are also secondary benefits to performing barbell shoulder exercises. For example, improved control and gains in your other lifts. Your shoulders are present in some capacity in most of your upper body (and some of your lower body) lifts. Increasing shoulder strength will have a noticeable impact on your other upper-body lifts.

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Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

In our section about shoulder workouts at home we discussed a few of the key bodyweight shoulder exercises. One of the quickest ways to hit on shoulders only using your bodyweight is to modify push-ups. After all, the major force that you’ll need to make use of here is gravity. Instead of discussing the value of bodyweight shoulder exercises, we’ve included two examples below and will provide instructions on how to do them. These can be done anywhere – your office, your home, or anywhere that there is a place to elevate your feet.

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