Top Ten Best Exercises for Your Shoulders

Everyone has heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This statement holds true for your arms and shoulders. No matter how strong your biceps and triceps are, if your shoulders aren't able to support them, you'll forever be limited.

The shoulders server to raise and lower your upper arm in relation to your trunk. Whether it is lifting something over your head or lifting something off the ground, your shoulders will be involved.

There are a lot of shoulder exercises out there that may feel like they are effective but end up doing more harm than good. With your rotator cuff being such an important and delicate part of your arm and shoulder structure, you need to be very careful which exercises you do. Having to undergo shoulder surgery (one of the most painful recovery processes) because you used bad form or regularly did a faulty exercise would be tragic.

Below are some of the best and safest shoulder exercises you can do.
The Top Ten
1 Prison Pushups

Do a regular pushup, keeping your elbows next to your ribs. At the top of the pushup, explosively jump to your feet and stand up. While standing, raise your straight arms over your head until your hands touch (like a jumping jack motion). Then reverse back down into a pushup.

2 Dumbbell Press

A dumbbell version of a military press: sit with your back supported and your arms holding dumbbells at shoulder level. Raise your arms straight overhead without leaning back and engaging your back. The important thing is to not let your elbows flare out to the sides but keep them pointing forward. This will protect your rotator cuff.

3 Side Dumbbell Flyes

Stand with your arms straight at your sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Raise both arms at the same time until they are level with your head. At the top of the motion, turn your thumbs down like you're pouring out a pitcher of water. Reverse and lower.

4 Car Drivers

Hold a round weight out in front of you with straight arms - a barbell plate works great. Turn your arms side to side like you're driving a car with a very loose steering wheel. Go for maximum rotation in each direction.

5 Barbell Row

Stand over a barbell, hinging at your waist at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your butt is sticking out behind your heels and not directly over your feet to protect your back. Grab a barbell with light weights and pull toward your chest. This is essentially a reversed bench press. Lower the weight back to straight arms.

6 Leaning Lateral Raises

Grab hold of something sturdy with one arm so that you can lean out to your side at a 30-45 degree angle. Keep your body straight, not sagging or curved. Hold a weight with a straight arm on the other side. Raise the weight until it is head level, then lower it back down without swinging.

7 Lawnmower Pulls

Do these instead of upright rows to save your wrists and shoulder joints. Stand leaning over a bench or chair. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and pull it back like you're starting a lawnmower. Keep your wrist straight.

8 Handstand Pushup

Do a handstand against a wall and slowly lower your head until the top touches the ground. Keep your back and body straight to avoid injury. Press back up into a handstand with straight arms. Keep your elbows pointing forward and not flaring out to the sides.

9 KettleBell Swings

Do these the original Russian way, not the American way. Stand with your legs slightly wider than your hips. Squat down with a straight back and grab a kettlebell or dumbbell on the floor. Squat the weight up and swing with your arms until the weight is 60 degrees out in front of you. It should be higher than your head but not directly overhead, which would release the tension. To release, lower the weight all the way back down to the floor (or near it) by bending your knees like a squat.

10 Barbell Overhead Press
The Contenders
11 Turkish Getup

This one might be easier to look up as it can be complex. Lie on your back with a weight above your face in one hand. Work your way to standing with the weight overhead. Reverse the movement with control. Look up a good video to get the form right.

12 Wide Stance Push Up
13 Planche
14 Bent Over Reverse Fly
15 Reverse Pec Deck
16 Front Raise
17 60° Incline Bench Press
18 Bench Press
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