Best Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

Your shoulders let us do things. They’re the fulcrum that allow your arms and hands to do everything that you do. This is why it’s important to keep them healthy. With good health, they are pain-free and can move in their full range of motion. Here are the best bodyweight shoulder exercises that will help keep them healthy.

Best Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder YTL Circuit

The YTL circuit is a combination of 3 different shoulder exercises. They target all heads of the shoulder: front, side and rear. Additionally, these exercises also strengthen your upper back.

Because of this, the circuit improves shoulder health and mobility. Just as importantly, it improves your posture and gets rid of that mid to upper back pain.

This is one set of exercises we recommend everyone do. A few minutes a day goes a long way in helping with pain relieve and you feeling beeter.

Exercise Ball Push-ups

Using an exercise ball with your usual push-up regime can be a more comfortable way to tone your shoulder muscles. You can also vary the exercise by changing the position of the ball on your legs. Doing so can intensify this workout.

For this exercise, form is what matters most.

How to Perform Stability Ball Push Ups

  1. Start with the ball firmly in your hands.
  2. Keep your body in a straight line as you roll the ball to your desired leg position.
  3. Place your hands directly below your shoulders and as wide as you need them to be.
  4. Focus on your form as you lower your body.
  5. Push yourself back into the straight starting position with control.
  6. Do 8-10 push-ups per set.

Pike Push-up

This move is a good one for your balance as well as your muscles. The short range of motion involved in this push-up variation gives your shoulders an intense and quick workout.

In addition to your shoulders and arms, your abdominals and calf muscles also get do some work as they help you maintain your form.

How to Do Pike Push Ups

  1. Start in a regular push-up starting stance.
  2. Walk your hands under you and raise hips until your body forms an inverted V.
  3. Keeping the previous step’s form, lower yourself until your chin is just above the floor.
  4. Take a moment to pause and then push your body back into starting position.
  5. Do 8-10 push-ups per set.

Side Plank

This is a variation on a regular plank that specifically targets your core and your shoulders. This is a stability exercise so you won’t be doing much moving. Instead, you’ll be holding the position for time.

Like many other exercises that work the deltoids, form matters most of all. Keeping form in this move can also help with balance and your core.

How to Perform Side Planks

  1. Start on a plank position.
  2. Then, pick whichever side you’d like to work on first and prop yourself up on that forearm.
  3. Raise the opposite arm to the ceiling. It will be perpendicular from your chest. As such, you should look like a T.
  4. Straighten your body out into a neat line. Make sure to keep this straight position throughout the exercise. Don’t let your hip drop.
  5. Hold the position by bracing your core and breathing deeply.
  6. We recommend starting with 15-30 seconds per side. You can move up to 1 to 2 minutes as you get stronger.

Crab Walk

That silly looking move from our childhood can be pretty useful to tone those shoulders. It usually can be a full-body workout on its own. But, with proper weight distribution it is perfect for your shoulders and triceps as part of a full body workout.

How to Do Crab Walks

  1. Start on all-fours but with your butt to the floor. This is the inverted table top position.
  2. Walk by moving your hands and feet at the same time. You can walk forward or backward. We recommend doing both to work different muscles.
  3. You can crawl for time or distance. If you’re going on time begin with 10-30 seconds. With distance, try 10-15 feet then crawling back.
  4. To change things up, try crawling side to side as well and diagonally.

Arm Circles

This is a really easy move that is perfect for when you don’t have a lot of time to get your workout in. This move helps with endurance because it only uses gravity and the weight in your arms.

We love this exercise because it allows your shoulders to go through the entire range of motion. Often, we only use a small range of movements in our day to day lives.

Arm circles work as part of a workout. Or, as a warm up to your gym workout.

How to Perform Arm Circles

  1. Hold your arms out at your side in a perfect T.
  2. Use your shoulder muscles to rotate your arms 180 degrees without bending your elbows.
  3. Once you get to half your count, reverse your arm circles for the second half.
  4. You can do arm circles for time or repetitions. With time, start with 10-30 seconds per arm. For repetitions, 20-30 reps is a good place to start.

Handstand Push-up

This is a highly intensive move that uses all of your weight against gravity. Beginners are advised to do this move against a wall for safety and ease. More experienced fitness hounds can work on their balance without the wall.

Handstand push ups are fairly straightforward. But, they’re very difficult to learn. For the best results, we recommend slowly building strength in the proper muscles towards this advance exercise.

The video below shows the progressions towards doing a handstand push up

How to Perform Handstand Push Ups

  1. Go into your handstand with fully extended arms. A good way to do this is to get into a push up position with your feet against a wall. Then, walk up the wall while your hands provide balance.
  2. Engage your core to stabilize yourself as you slowly lower your body.
  3. Slowly push yourself back into start position. Use a wall for support if too difficult.
  4. Do 3-10 reps. How much you do will be based on your experience level.

Floor Angels

Another move for beginners that not only tones the shoulders and upper back, but also increases the range of motion of your shoulders.

Floor angels can be quickly done for a rushed workout or to alleviate some minor muscle tension. This exercise is done on the floor. It has a counterpart exercise that you can do against the wall, the scapular wall slides.

How to Perform Floor Angels

  1. Lie firmly on your back with bent knees and your hands by your sides.
  2. Tuck your elbows close to your ribcage.
  3. Extend your arms and try to move them farther than your head.
  4. Keep your elbows and wrists to the floor throughout this move.

Jumping Jacks

Another basic move that everyone on this planet should know about. This is a low impact move that targets the quads and shoulders.

On its own, jumping jacks can be considered a full-body cardio workout.

How to Do Jumping Jacks

  1. Stand up straight with your feet together and arms down by your sides.
  2. Jump and spread your legs out to the sides while touching your hands above your head.
  3. Jump back to starting position and bring your hands back down.
  4. Repeat until set is complete.
  5. Do as many as you can until you feel the burn.