The Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises For Shoulders

The shoulders are an important part of a well-built physique. Your arms look great when your deltoids look stronger. And building a rounded shoulder is not as easy as building biceps or triceps. But dumbbell exercises help you achieve stronger and bigger shoulders.

Dumbbell shoulder workouts is a great way to stabilize delts and shoulder traps. There are multiple dumbbell exercises you can do to strengthen your shoulders like dumbbell overhead press, dumbbell front raise, side lateral raise etc. In this article, I’ve shared the top10 dumbbell shoulder exercises that are truly effective for all.

If you are a beginner and want to build shredded delts then you must workout your shoulders with the dumbbells.

Before moving on to the list of dumbbell shoulders exercises, let’s quickly find out how to target different shoulder muscles using the right dumbbell exercise.

Targeting the right muscles with the right exercises can help you to achieve your desired result. This is why I have shared some basic knowledge of shoulder anatomy for bodybuilding.


Which muscles you should target for developing the shredded shoulders?

To train shoulder, one must focus on Deltoids muscles, trapezius and rotator cuff muscles.


Deltoid has 3 parts

  • The anterior deltoid: The anterior deltoid is located on the front of your shoulder and the major function of this muscle is shoulder flexion. This means raising your arms in an upward direction such as over your neck and head.
  • Lateral or mid deltoid: The lateral deltoid is the main deltoid located on the outside of the shoulder. The prime function of this muscle is the “shoulder abduction”. It means raising your arms to the sides of your body.
  • Posterior deltoid or Rear deltoids: This muscle is located on the backside of the shoulder. Its primary function is shoulder extension. This means pulling your upper arms back at chest level to your mid-line of the body.

The rotator cuff muscles are basically small and complex part of the shoulder anatomy. These muscles are as important as deltoids. The functions of these muscles are to provide flexibility to the shoulder to perform a wide range of motion.


The trapezius or traps muscle stabilize your shoulder and upper back. This is a long muscle starting from the neck to upper back. It is important to build stronger traps to look muscular.

Now I’m going to list the best 10 shoulder exercises you can do with dumbbells, as well as, I have also mentioned which exercise target what muscle. So keep reading this.


A complete Shoulder Exercises Using Dumbbells


1. Dumbbell Overhead shoulder press

Dumbbell Overhead Press is one the best dumbbell exercises for shoulders you should never skip. It mainly works on the front and the lateral deltoids.

Dumbbell Exercises For Shoulders

Pic Source: Everkinetic / CC BY-SA (Edited)

How to do dumbbell overhead shoulder press

  • Stand straight with your feet or sit down on a bench. Grab one dumbbell each in both hands, palms facing upward.
  • Keep your elbows bend to the sides of the body and hold the dumbbells close to your shoulder.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Raise the dumbbells towards the ceiling until your arms being straight.
  • Hold for a moment then return to the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Anterior Deltoid

2. Dumbbell Front Raise

An another best dumbbell exercise for the shoulders which especially works on the front deltoid. To build shredded shoulders you must include in your overall shoulder workout routine.

Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises
Single Arm Dumbbell Front Raise
Pic Source: Everkinetic / CC BY-SA (Edited)

How to do dumbbell overhead shoulder press

  • Stand straight with your feet and grab one dumbbell each in both hands, palms facing your thigh.
  • Keep your arms straight and hold the dumbbells horizontally across your thigh.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Raise the dumbbells upward at the chest level until your hands become parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for a moment then return to the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • If you are doing single-arm front raise, then raise your hand one by one alternatively. When you complete both sides that will be one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Anterior Deltoid

3. Dumbbell Side lateral raise

Best Shoulder workout with dumbbells

Dumbbell Side lateral raise
Pic Source: Everkinetic / CC BY-SA (Edited)

How to perform dumbbell side lateral raise

  • Stand straight with your feet and grab one dumbbell each in both hands, palms facing your thigh.
  • Keep your arms straight and hold the dumbbells to sides of your thigh.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Raise the dumbbells out to the sides of your body till your shoulder level.
  • Hold for a moment then return to the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • You can also perform seated dumbbell Side lateral raise with the same way.
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Lateral or mid deltoid

4. Dumbbell Push Press

Dumbbell Push Press

How to do dumbbell Push Press

  • Stand with your feet and hold dumbbells in both hands just above your shoulder with your elbows bent and palms facing each other.
  • Slightly bent your knees and push the dumbbells towards the ceiling while extending your hips and legs.
  • Hold for a moment then return to the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Anterior deltoid

Related: 5 best exercises to build your Chest with Dumbbell


5. Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Bent over lateral is one the best dumbbell exercises for shoulders

How to do Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding one dumbbell each in both hands in front of your knees.
  • Slightly bend your knees and keep your back straight with a slight arch.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent and your arms should hang below your shoulders.
  • Raise the dumbbells to the sides until your elbows reached at shoulders level.
  • Slowly lower them down at the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Rear deltoids, traps and the rotator cuff.

6. Dumbbell lying shoulder extension

How to perform dumbbell lying shoulder extension
  • Lying down on a bench on your chest and belly holding one dumbbell each in both hands.
  • Slightly bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent and your arms should hang below your shoulders.
  • Raise the dumbbells to the sides until your elbows reached at shoulders level.
  • Slowly lower them down at the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Rear deltoids, traps and the rotator cuff.

How to perform Dumbbell lying one hand shoulder extension:
  • Lying down on a bench on your chest and belly, holding a dumbbell in one hand. Take support of bench with another hand to fix yourself on.
  • Slightly bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent and your arm should hang below your shoulders.
  • Raise the dumbbell to the side until your elbows reached at shoulders level.
  • Slowly lower them down at the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Rear deltoids, traps and the rotator cuff.

7. Dumbbell Shoulder upright row

Dumbbell Shoulder workouts
Pic Source: Everkinetic / CC BY-SA (Edited)

How to do dumbbell shoulder upright row:

  • Stand straight and hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your hips. palms facing your body.
  • Keep the dumbbells as close as to your thighs.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Pull the dumbbells up toward your chest and your knees out to the sides of your neck.
  • Hold for a second then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Traps and posterior deltoid.

Also check: A complete guide to the Free weights Exercise


8. Bent-Over One-Arm lateral Raise

Single Arm Bent Over Lateral Raise

How to do Bent-Over One-Arm lateral Raise

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in one hand between your legs
  • Slightly bend your knees and keep your back straight with a slight arch.
  • Keep your elbow slightly bent and your arm should hang below your shoulder.
  • Raise the dumbbell to the side until your arm reached at just above the shoulder.
  • Hold for a second then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Lateral deltoid, traps and rotator cuff.

9. Standing Dumbbell Straight Arm Front Deltoid Raise

Shoulder exercises with dumbbells
Standing Dumbbell Straight Arm Front Deltoid Raise

How to do Dumbbell Straight Arm Front Deltoid Raise

  • Stand straight with your feet and grab a pair of dumbbells in both hands, palms facing your thigh.
  • Keep your arms straight and hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Raise the dumbbells over your head towards the ceiling with slightly bent your elbows.
  • Hold for a moment then return to the initial position. That’s one rep!
  • If you are doing alternate straight arm front delt raise, then raise your hands alternatively. When you complete both sides that will be one rep!
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Anterior Deltoid and trapezius muscles.

10. Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs

Dumbbell exercises for shoulders
Gif: Tenor
How to perform Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs
  • Stand straight and hold a pair of dumbbells to the sides of your thighs. palms facing your body.
  • Keep the dumbbells as close as to your thighs.
  • Keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Raise the dumbbells by slowly raising your shoulders in a shrugging motion.
  • Hold for a second then slowly return to the initial position.
  • Complete 10 reps of 3 sets with 1-2 minutes gap between every set.
  • Targeted muscle: Trapezius

Final Words

Many of the shoulder exercises perform by dumbbells. As because dumbbells allow complete ranges of motion which help to target specific muscles. Every dumbbell exercises that I mentioned in this blog are the best for building stronger and bigger deltoids and traps.

What you need to do is to add all these dumbbells exercises in your shoulder workout plan. These dumbbell exercises for shoulders are effective for everyone, either you’re a man, woman or a beginner.

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