Want to train your shoulders but don’t have any weights to help you get them?
We have the solution for you—an at-home shoulder workout that you can do without any dumbbells or weight plates.
So how do you train shoulders at home? When training shoulders at home with no weights, you need to find ways to hit each area of the muscle, including the deltoids and rotator cuffs by your own bodyweight, and common house accessories to act as the resistance.
Need a workout program? Get 3 free workouts on Fitbod right now.
Targeting Your Shoulder Muscles: Parts of the Shoulder
Your shoulders are made up of three muscle groups: the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid.
During your at home shoulder workout you’ll want to make sure to select exercises that target each of these three parts of the shoulder.
Let’s break the deltoids down further.
1. Anterior deltoid
The anterior deltoid is what helps you move your arm up and down, that is, it’s responsible for your shoulder flexion.
2. Lateral deltoid
The lateral deltoid helps to raise your shoulders to the sides of your body when the shoulder is internally rotated. I wrote a complete guide on how to train your side delts.
3. Posterior deltoid
The posterior deltoid is located at the back of the shoulder. This area of the shoulder is responsible for bringing your arms and hands from the sides of your body to the midline, in other words, its main function is transverse abduction.
Related Article: 13 Best Rear Delt Exercises (Dumbbells, Cables, Bands)
How to Warm Up For Your At-Home Shoulder Workout
It’s essential that you warm up properly for your at-home shoulder workout, even if there are no weights involved. Warming up will reduce the risk of injury, prep your muscles for an intense workout, while also getting you mentally focused.
Here are some dynamic exercises that you can do before your training session.
Related Article: 3 Awesome Resistance Band Shoulder Workouts
STRAIGHT ARM CIRCLES
This will increase your shoulder mobility and range of motion. Keep your body still, except for your arms and shoulders.
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your hands extended out on either side.
2. Start drawing a circle in the air with both arms, moving both in the same direction.
3. Slowly begin to make the circle bigger, until you’re drawing one large circle on both sides.
4. Repeat the circles in the opposite direction. Remember to start small before progressing to larger ones.
PRONE Y’S AND T’S
1. Lie on your stomach on a flat surface. Keep your head down and your arms overhead so that they are forming a Y-shape. Your thumbs should be up, closest to the sky, and your pinky closest to the ground, palms facing each other.
2. Lift your arms slightly off the floor, engaging your shoulder muscles, before bringing them back down, without touching the ground. Then repeat for a set of 6.
3. Next, we are going to work on our T’s. This is similar to the Y’s, except your arms are going to be extended out to the side to form a T-shape with your body. Your thumbs are still up and pinkies are still down.
4. Lift your arms from the ground before lowering it back down, for a set of 6.
Grab a light resistance band for this rotator-cuff warm-up.
1. Tie the resistance band around a pole or anything vertical. Hold the other end with the hand that is furthest away from the pole. Your elbow should be tucked in and your forearm should be parallel to the ground.
2. Rotate your shoulder away from the pole, bringing that hand out to the other side as far as possible before bringing it back. This is an external rotation.
3. Repeat on the other side.
Related Article: Boulder Shoulder Workout: Must-Do Exercises + Sample Program
This warm-up exercise also requires a light resistance band.
1. Tie one end of the resistance band to a vertical pole.
2. This time, grab the other end with the arm that is closest to the pole. Remember to keep that elbow tucked in and your forearm parallel to the ground.
3. Now, move the band into your body as far as possible, focusing on the internal rotation.
4. Repeat on the other side.
A light resistance band is needed.
1. Grab each end of the resistance band with each arm, about shoulder-width apart.
2. Hold your arms in front of you, arms straight.
3. Pull the band apart as far as you can, so that your left arm moves to your left side and your right goes to the other side.
4. Bring the band back together to your midline, and repeat.
Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try 3 free workouts on Fitbod.
Your At-Home Shoulder Workout (No Weights)
So, let’s get started on your at-home shoulder workout.
These exercises don’t require any weights like dumbbells or plates so don’t worry if you don’t have access to any of them.
For some exercises that require a load to carry, we offer recommendations like water bottles or a towel so you can still do this at-home shoulder workout.
The numbers next to the exercise name reads as sets x reps.
PIKE PUSH UP (3X10)
Muscles used: anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, triceps, back, and core
1. Place both hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, with your feet matching. Your hips should be up in the air so that your body forms a triangle with the ground.
2. Bend at the elbows and lower your head to the ground, moving in the direction towards your hands.
3. Push yourself back up to the starting position.
Muscles used: triceps, delts, pecs, lats, rhomboids and levator scapulae
While triceps are the main muscles involved in dips, your shoulders will also gain a great workout with this exercise.
1. Sit on the edge of a chair.
2. Hold the edge of the chair with your hands, shoulder-width apart. Then, move off the chair so your arms are supporting you. If you need more space, then use two chairs sitting side by side, with one hand on each chair.
3. Keep your elbows tucked into your body as you lower yourself as far down as you can go.
4. Push yourself back up to the starting position.
Notes: If you want a larger range of motion, then grab another set of chairs to place your feet on, so you’re supporting yourself on the chairs with your body suspended in the air. Then, when you dip, you have more space to move.
DOLPHIN DIVE (3X10)
Muscles used: anterior deltoids, arms, core
1. Begin this exercise on your forearms and toes. Your feet should be walked in a few inches from your typical plank position so that your hips are raised in the air and you’re making a triangle shape with the floor.
2. Dive forward with your body, until you resume a forearm plank position. Your shoulders move forwards while your returns to a straight line. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles contracted.
3. Then, return to the starting position and repeat.
FACE PULLS (3X10)
Muscles used: posterior deltoids, rhomboids, external rotators, trapezius
This exercise requires a light resistance band.
1. Wrap your resistance band around a pole or any other vertical standing.
2. Hold the ends in each hand, palms facing in.
3. Bend your knees slightly and pull the band towards your face so your hands come to either side.
4. In a controlled movement, bring the band back to the starting position.
FRONT SHOULDER RAISE WITH TOWEL (3X15)
Muscles used: anterior deltoid
This exercise requires a towel.
1. Roll a towel up into a cylinder and grab both ends (shoulder-width apart) with one hand each. Hold it with your arms extended so that it’s sitting at your hips.
2. Slowly raise the towel until it’s in front of you, your arms parallel to the ground.
3. Pull the towel apart as far as you can.
4. Release and lower your arms slowly.
LATERAL RAISES WITH WATER BOTTLES (3X15)
Muscles used: lateral deltoid, anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid, upper trap, rotator cuff
This exercise requires two water bottles. You can change how light or heavy the load will be by filling it with as much water as necessary.
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one water bottle in each hand, palms facing towards you.
2. Raise your arms to each side (laterally) until it is shoulder height. Your elbows and knees should be slightly bent.
3. In a controlled motion, lower the bottles back to your side.
Notes: Be careful not to use a swinging motion as momentum to get the weights up. Your body should be still, with only your shoulders doing the work. If this is too difficult, then lighten the load.
SHOULDER PRESS WITH TOWEL (3X15)
Muscles used: anterior deltoid, middle deltoid, posterior deltoid, triceps, trapezius, pectoralis minor.
This exercise requires a towel.
1. Roll the towel into a cylinder. Hold the towel at both ends so that your hands are shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows tucked in and down so that the towel is close to your chest.
2. Pull the towel apart.
3. Raise your hands and the towel overhead until your arms are fully extended and are above you. Remember to keep pulling the towel apart.
4. Slowly lower your arms and repeat.
This at-home shoulder workout requires no typical weights you’ll find in the gym, so you can do this in the comfort of your own home. It’ll hit the main muscles of your shoulders while still giving you the resistance needed to build bigger and stronger muscles. If you would like more shoulder exercises, then take a look at the FitBod app for some great ideas.
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.