A Simple Classic
If you want to learn how to do body weight shoulder exercises, the push-up is a simple classic that you probably already know. While push ups need little explanation, it is important to remember to keep your abs and buttocks tight, forming your body in a straight line to protect your back. Additionally, you arms should fall directly below your shoulders and your head should remain relaxed as you look to the floor. You can modify your push-ups by doing them against a wall, dropping to your knees or even lifting your hands up onto kettlebells or medicine balls if you are looking for a challenge.
A Push-Up Without the Push
Another great calisthenic shoulder exercise is the plank, which is similar to a push-up, but eliminates the push. There are two ways to do the plank. First, rest face down on the floor, intertwining your hands in front of you and lift up your hips so that you are resting on your toes and forearms. Again, keep you body in a straight line with head relaxed and hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. You can make the plank a bit more difficult by straightening your arms and holding in a high lift.
Often we work only the front of the shoulders; however, exercises for the back of the shoulders are just as important. Sit upright on the floor with your legs together and toes pointing. Keep your spine straight and place your hands about 1 foot behind you, fingers pointing in. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, lean into your hands and lift your hips, rolling your feet so that they are flat on the ground. Your body should form a straight line and your arms should be directly below your shoulders. Keep your chin to your chest if you have a weak neck, or gently roll it back, lifting your chin up. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then gently drop your hips and lift your head.
Ready For a Challenge?
While there are many yoga poses for the shoulders, the side plank is one of the most challenging, working even the deep shoulder muscles. To begin, place yourself in a high plank with your arms straight and shift your weight onto your right side. Turn your right foot so that you are resting on the outside of the foot and engage your abs as you carefully place your left foot on top of the right and lift your left arm to the sky. Again, your right arm should be directly below the shoulder and body in line. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, gradually working up to 30 seconds. When ready, relax down slowly and repeat on the left side.