How to Improve Shoulder Strength

How to Improve Shoulder Strength

Improving your shoulder strength is an important fitness goal for numerous athletes, including pitchers who want to throw harder or tennis players who wish to serve faster. Strong shoulders also help you in everyday situations, from lifting heavy objects to showing off your physique on the beach. Make sure your workout plan covers all the key shoulder muscles, including the three deltoids and the rotator cuff.

Warm up your muscles before you start working your shoulders with at least five minutes of aerobic exercise. Include jumping jacks in your warm-up to stretch your shoulders dynamically and prepare them for some heavy lifting.

Perform shoulder presses to target the anterior deltoid in front of each shoulder. The exercise also works the lateral, or middle, deltoid, plus the triceps in your arms. The triceps assist during many shoulder movements, so developing these muscles helps protect your shoulders. To do barbell presses from a seated position, hold the barbell with an overhand grip, spread your hands shoulder-width apart and point your elbows toward the floor. Begin with the bar in front of your upper chest, press it straight up toward the ceiling, and then lower the bar under control to the starting position.

Target your lateral delt -- while also working your front deltoid and several rotator cuff muscles -- with dumbbell upright rows. Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hang down with your palms facing the tops of your thighs. Keep the weights close to your body as you pull them straight up to shoulder height and then lower them slowly to the starting position.

Stand facing a twin-pulley cable machine to perform reverse flyes. The exercise targets your posterior delts and also works the lateral deltoid plus rotator cuff muscles such as the infraspinatus and teres minor. Grasp the handles with your palms facing each other in front of your upper chest. Step back so the cable is taut and assume a split stance, with one foot a bit forward of the other. Keep your arms fairly straight but not locked as you pull both cables back and to each side so your body forms a T shape. Return under control to the starting position.

Target the supraspinatus in your rotator cuff by doing front lateral raises. The exercise also works your lateral and anterior delts. Stand straight and hold a dumbbell in your right hand with your arm straight, the weight in front of your right thigh and your palm pointed to your right. Keep your arm extended as you move the dumbbell up and slightly to the right until the weight is above your head. Return slowly to the starting position. Do the exercise with both arms.


Perform eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. If the weight isn’t sufficiently challenging, add 5 to 10 percent more weight during your next workout.


See your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.