Defined shoulder muscles, or deltoids, are something nearly every bodybuilder wants. However, the deltoid muscles are also used all-day, every day, so whether you’re concerned with how your muscles look or simply want to maintain healthy shoulders, it’s essential to work your deltoids regularly. These simple yet effective calisthenics shoulder exercises can be done in your home, without any need for costly or bulky equipment.
Understanding the Deltoids
It’s not uncommon from gym-goers to work one head of the shoulder muscles while neglecting the other heads. The shoulder muscles include the front (anterior), rear (posterior) and side (lateral) deltoids, and because the front deltoids are the ones most commonly developed, the side and rear deltoids often get forgotten. In fact, the rear deltoid muscles are some of the most neglected muscles in the body.
The front deltoids are used when lifting the shoulder in front of the body, while the back rear deltoids balance the front deltoids and are used when performing any shoulder extension. The side deltoids, between the front and rear deltoids, are what move the shoulder out to the side past 30 degrees.
All three heads of the deltoid muscles must be exercised to prevent an imbalance in shoulder muscle strength, which can lead to poor posture, shoulder injuries and unnecessary pain.
Shoulder Workouts From Home
You don’t need any equipment to build stronger shoulders at home. However, its essential to perform shoulder movements that use several angles to work the three parts of the deltoid muscles. The best bodyweight exercises for the shoulders feature a number of movements to work the deltoid muscles and rotator cuff to improve stability, strength and mass if desired.
Performing an inclined push-up means your upper body must be higher than your lower body when performing this exercise. Inclined push-ups can be done on a step, a sturdy box, a bench or any stable, elevated item you have in your home. Be sure to keep your shoulders, hips and feet in line while lowering your chest down to the surface on which you’re pushing. The core should be engaged throughout the entire exercise.
Any exercise with the word “handstand” in it sounds intimidating. However, push-up handstands are a lot less scary than they sound. Simply stand facing a wall, then place your hands on the ground and kick your feet up until you’re in a handstand position with your feet against the wall. This maneuver is often done more easily with a partner. Using your arms, while engaging your abs and glutes, lower yourself toward the ground. Push yourself back up and repeat the exercise.
Unlike traditional push-ups, which tend to work the front deltoid more, push-up handstands work the front, rear and side deltoids. They’re ideal for building strength and hitting the parts of the shoulder that often get neglected.
This calisthenics exercise is one that works both the front and side deltoids, allowing you to work shoulder sections at once. Pike push-ups can also be a stepping stone to mastering the handstand push-up above. Place your body in a V position with your rear raised into the air and palms and toes on the ground. Your head should be pointing toward the ground with your eyes looking at your legs, and the spine should be in a straight line. Using your arms, lower your head toward the ground as far as possible, then push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat the same motion.
Dive Bomber Push-Up
This advanced push-up strengthens the shoulders and improves thoracic spine mobility while also working the core, triceps and chest. You’ll begin with your hands and feet on the ground, and your hips raised with your body in a V position. From here, lower the shoulders, moving your chest forward, bringing your chest between your hands and lifting it up toward the ceiling. Reverse the motion, bringing the hips back upward into the V position. This advanced yet effective exercise also improves rotator cuff flexibility.
Lateral Plank Walk
This bodyweight exercise begins with your body in the pushup position. Move your right leg out wide while crossing your left hand over your right. Then, bring the right hand out, and move your left leg into a regular push-up position. This will create a walking motion to the right, which should be repeated 10 times before switching direction and “walking” to the left 10 times. Keep your core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body.
When to Work Your Shoulders
Strong, sculpted shoulders require consistent workouts. While the amount you should work your shoulders depends on your age, ability to recover and a number of other factors, performing two to three shoulder exercises two to three times per week. Perform three to four sets of each individual exercise.
Building Wider Shoulders
Strengthening your shoulders can add width to them, but specifically working the lateral, or side, deltoids can add even more. Adding more strength, and ultimately size, to your lateral deltoids will make your shoulders appear wider, which in turn makes the waist look smaller. Working the lateral deltoids is a win-win.
Nutrition to Build Shoulders
Shoulders aren’t built without the fuel they need to strengthen. It’s essential to eat a healthy diet with the correct amount of protein to enhance strength while promoting proper muscle recovery. Consuming whey protein immediately after a workout can help you achieve the shoulder muscle strength and appearance you’re seeking.
Shoulder muscles are consistently used in our everyday lives, and stronger shoulder muscles don’t just look amazing. They make it easier to lift your kids, carry groceries and perform the countless other tasks that involve lifting, pushing or pulling. Strong, healthy shoulders will keep you mobile, promote better posture, and ultimately, improve your daily life. What are you waiting for? Start building healthy shoulders at home now with the bodyweight exercises above.