Strong Shoulders >> 5 Quick and Effective Exercises to Strengthen Them

Woman doing arm circles

by Viktoria Wolffhardt, Slalom Canoeist

Recovering from injuries, warming up before working out, or just in between: you don’t need much time, equipment, or expensive machinery to strengthen your shoulders.

Slalom canoeist Viktoria Wolffhardt explains five exercises you can do anywhere at any time.

1. Shoulder stability exercise

Woman doing a shoulder stability exercise

You might know this exercise from the adidas Training app, it’s called an Up Down. Start in the low plank position and push off from the floor into the high plank. Make sure that you engage your core and keep your hips as stable as possible. Then return to the low plank position and repeat. Alternate between starting with your left and right arm.

Repeat this exercise ten to twelve times per side and do a total of three sets.

Good to know:

“This is also a good warm-up exercise before an upper body workout,” says Viktoria Wolffhardt.

2. Strengthen your rotator cuff

Woman doing shoulder exercise with a resistance band

Stretch a resistance band between your forearms. Move your left and right shoulder in circles in both directions along the wall. You can do this exercise at different heights to stimulate your muscles more.

Repeat the exercise ten to twelve times on each side and do a total of three sets.

3. Arm circles with weights

Woman doing arm circles with light weights

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a light weight (e.g. 1 l water bottle) in your left and right hand. Let your arms hang loosely at your sides and lift the bottles upward making small circles until they are in a horizontal position. Briefly hold this position and then slowly lower your arms again.

Repeat this exercise ten to twelve times per side, alternate between forward and backward circles. Do a total of three sets per side.

Be careful:

“Make sure you don’t arch your lower back. Pull your chin back a bit, so that your back stays straight through the exercises.”

4. Water bottle stabilizer

Woman doing an exercise with a workout bottle

Fill ¾ of a 1.5 l water bottle with water. Pick up the bottle with your right hand and stretch your arm straight out in front of you. Make sure your hand is at the height of your shoulder and your arm is straight. Now try to hold the bottle steady.

Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides and repeat the exercise. Do three sets per side.

What the exercise does:

“This develops the small muscle groups in the shoulders to relieve strain on the tendons and joints. It is especially good to do when recovering from shoulder injuries.”

5. Internal and external rotation with resistance band

Woman does should exercise with resistance bands

Attach a resistance band to a door handle (or another anchor point) and stand with your side next to it. Take the resistance band in your hand and pull it until it’s tight. Check that your arm is at a 90 degree angle and keep your elbow in near to your body. If this is impossible, reduce the tension on the band by standing closer to the door handle. Keeping the position of the arm, externally rotate your shoulder so that your hand moves in the direction of the door handle. Then internally rotate the shoulder by pulling the fitness band back towards your body against the resistance of the band.

Repeat this exercise ten to twelve times per side and do three sets.


“Your pelvis should be stable and facing forward – there should be no rotation of the upper body or hips.”

Have fun working out! 

About Viktoria Wolffhardt:

Viktoria Wolffhardt has been a slalom canoeist for 15 years. The runner-up world champion and two-time winner of the U-23 championship is always looking for new challenges. Her motto is: “Be fast, be good, have fun, and always be yourself!”



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