5 Exercises to Build Strong Shoulders Without Weights

Woman is doing a plank to down dog

Today we’re talking about the shoulders. Now it might seem more intuitive for a man to train his shoulders because “men need and want strong arms,” right? Wrong! Everybody needs to strengthen their shoulders because while the shoulder is extremely mobile, it’s also extremely unstable and susceptible to injury.

Shoulder injuries are really common because the potential range of motion is great, yet not very many people do what it takes to strengthen and work on shoulder flexibility. If that’s not enough reason for you, strong and defined shoulders can create the illusion of making your waist appear smaller. Now you’re listening…

While many of us aren’t really thinking about the role our shoulders play in everyday activities, let me remind you: bringing in the groceries, lifting up the kids, picking things up off of the floor and putting them in the closet, cleaning up — you’re using your shoulders.

You can try out the bodyweight exercises listed below to help tone sexy shoulders while strengthening all the tendons, ligaments and muscle tissue (of course!). And the great thing, you don’t even need any weights at all.

But before we start, let me give you a super quick anatomy lesson. The shoulder (deltoid) muscle has 3 heads: the anterior (front), medial (side) and posterior (rear) deltoid. We’re going to hit all of them.

5 Exercises for Shoulders Without Weights

1. Inclined push-ups

Woman is doing inclined push-ups

Having your upper body higher than your lower body in this movement is going to recruit more of the anterior deltoid. Make sure that your core is engaged and your hips, shoulders and feet are in one line (as in a regular push-up). You want the edge of whatever surface you’re doing this exercise on to come right underneath your chest (or boobs).

2. Plank to down dog

Woman is doing a plank to down dog

Woman is doing a plank to down dog

This is a great move for shoulder flexibility — especially the rotator cuff. You don’t need to perform this exercise quickly, take your time.This is actually a bodyweight warm-up exercise before you start your shoulder training.

3. Pike push-ups

Woman is doing pike push-ups

This exercise is a step on your way to mastering a handstand push-up and is great for the anterior as well as the medial deltoids. Make sure that you look at your legs (not your hands) while keeping your spine neutral and the crown of your head pointing towards the ground.

4. Elevated pike push-ups

Woman is doing elevated pike push-ups

Ready for that next step? Elevate your legs on a step, bench, curb, chair…whatever. Same rules apply: keep that neutral spine position and the crown of your head pointing towards the ground. If you’re attempting to do this for the first time alone, put a pillow under your head just in case 🙂

5. Prone ball wide row with rotation

Woman is doing Prone ball wide rows with rotation

Prone ball wide row with rotation

Last, but not least, we’re hitting the posterior (rear) delts as well as the rotator cuff muscles. Be sure that your elbows stay at the height of your shoulders throughout the movement. And, like the plank to downward dog, this is not a race…slower and more controlled is better and safer!

Looking for more exercises you can do to build a strong and sexy body without the weights? Download the adidas Training app and start your complete 12-week personalized bodyweight training plan today!



Lunden Souza Lunden Souza is an Online Fitness & Lifestyle Transformation Coach. She helps people all over the world create a sustainable healthy lifestyle, so they'll never have to "start over" again! Connect with @lifelikelunden for real-life strategies to get on track for long-term health in both body and mind. View all posts by Lunden Souza »