For the first exercise, we’re going to target the front and middle heads with dolphin push-ups.
Get down on all fours and plant your elbows into the ground like you’re about to perform a plank.
Get into a plank, but your hips should be higher up in the air, in a downward dog position.
Lower your hips and shift your body weight forward. Your shoulders should go past your elbows. Try to get low enough to have your chest touch your hands.
Reverse the movement concentrating on moving your bodyweight back up with your shoulders. So don’t just press up with your chest.
Focus on flexing your shoulders almost like you’re trying to raise your elbows up. Don’t just pull your hips back, let your arms do the work.
As you push back your hips should come right back up into a downward dog position. From there, you’ll repeat for reps.
To make this more challenging, simply walk your feet in. To make it easier, walk them further back.
The pike push-up is a similar exercise to the dolphin push-up. Many people perform these on the ground, which is fine if you don’t have other options.
But you’ll probably find that your head gets in the way of achieving full range of motion for your shoulders.
If you want more of a challenge, you can elevate your hands on two platforms. You can use furniture, chairs, or a stack of books.
Place your feet on one platform and each of your hands on the other two. Once again, find yourself in an elevated downward dog position.
Bend your elbows and lower yourself down, slowly, until you feel a nice stretch in your chest and shoulders.
Press yourself back up until you’re back to the starting position, and repeat for reps.
This exercise will work your lateral head as well as your core. You can perform these on your elbow, or with your arm fully extended.
To target the shoulder better I recommend doing it on your hand.
Plant your hand on the ground under your shoulder and stack your feet so that you’re in a side plank position.
Raise your hips up off the floor aiming to get up higher than a typical side plank.
As you’re doing this, concentrate on pushing your body away from your hand.
Lower your hips almost to the ground. From there, flex your shoulder and push your hips back up and repeat for reps.
Another simple but effective shoulder exercise that hits the rear delts, the lats and the rhomboids is the towel lat pulldown.
To do this one you’ll need a towel or a broomstick. I’ll be demonstrating with a towel.
Lying flat down on the ground, grab each end of the towel and raise it above your head.
Lift your upper body off the ground. You can lift your lower body off the ground too to hit your glutes and lower back as well.
Either way, really try to pull the towel apart as you pull your elbows down. It should look like a floor lat pull down.
When you get your elbows all the way back, squeeze hard for a second before rising back above the head. Repeating for reps.
Another exercise for the back of the shoulder is a variation of the reverse fly. Instead of bending over and facing the ground, you’re actually going to lay on your back.
Spread your arms out with a slight bend in your elbows, just like you would with a reverse fly.
Press your arms and elbows back into the ground and raise your upper body up.
Hold yourself up and squeeze for a second before slowly returning back down and repeating for reps.
Keep in mind – this one does have a very short range of motion. But if you squeeze and concentrate on using the correct muscles, you’ll definitely challenge you rear portion of your shoulders.
Moving back to an exercise that targets the front and middle head of the shoulder very effectively, we have dive-bombers.
Get down on the ground on all fours and raise your hips up into the usual downward dog position.
Lower yourself to the ground for what looks just like a pike push-up.
As you get near the bottom of the movement, and your chest comes closer to the ground, drop your hips to the ground and press your upper body up. This way you’ll wind up in what looks like a cobra stretch.
Reverse the entire movement by bending your elbows and lowering your upper body to the ground.
Meanwhile, raise your hips back up into downward dog. Then press yourself up until your elbows are straight. From there, just repeat for reps.
#7 Leaning lateral raises… with home equipment!
Next, I want to move on to a lateral raise where we use whatever you have at home. You can use a book bag, duffle bag, or simply loop a belt through some gallons of water.
All of these can be used to load some weight if you’re at home and don’t have access to dumbbells/barbells.
We’re going to use one of these objects to perform leaning lateral raises since all of these household objects tend to be bulky.
Grab something like a door frame and lean away from it. This will provide space for the bag or gallons of water to hang down.
While leaning, raise the bag to your side with your elbow slightly bent.
Just like with a regular lateral raise, lower back down and repeat for reps.
Another exercise that you can perform with basic household items is the regular bent-over reverse fly.
All you really need are two gallons of water. The back of your shoulder is a relatively small muscle, so it doesn’t require much weight for effective targeting.
If you need more weight, you can use the bigger 2.5-gallon jugs. You can also use matching laundry detergents or any other similar household items. I’ll be demonstrating with water jugs.
Grab the gallon of water in each hand and bend over while maintaining the neutral curve in your spine.
Open your arms in an arch-like path, aiming to bring your hands up and out to your sides.
While doing this remember to keep the elbows slightly bent the whole time.
Slowly return the gallons back to the starting position, still keeping the elbows slightly bent.
Repeat for reps.
This bodyweight exercise is a variation of a regular push-up. It targets the shoulders and specifically the front head in a much more intense way than regular push-ups.
Get down on all fours and come up to a push-up position. Except, with these push-ups you want your hands to be a good amount behind your shoulders.
With a regular push-up, your hands would be directly underneath your shoulders. In this case, it’ll feel like you’re leaning forward. That will put much more tension on the shoulders.
From that push-up position, simply lower yourself for a push-up and press yourself back up.
Keep in mind – your elbows should stay closer to the body than regular push-ups. Make sure you’re not flaring your elbows out.
#10 Suspension training exercises
Last but not least, we have suspension training exercises.
Ideally, you would want to get a TRX for these. But you can also use other household items like towels or drapes.
Tie a knot at the end and put that knot on the other side of a door and close it. But I have a number of TRX’s at my gyms.
Also, the ones that I get from Amazon are cheap and worth it if you’re exercising at home without weights.
There are a bunch of effective shoulder exercises that you can do with TRX straps. For example, you can do reverse flies.
Grab a strap in each hand and lean back spreading your arms to your sides.
Slowly return back down and repeat for reps.
Remember, with TRX exercises it’s important to keep your body in a relatively straight line across your heels, hips, and shoulder blades.
Also, the further you walk your feet in the more challenging the exercise will become. The further you walk them back the less challenging the exercise becomes.
With reverse flies, since the posterior deltoid is a relatively weak muscle as mentioned, it’s harder to walk in further. You only need to take a few small steps.
But another exercise you can do for the back of the shoulders is the TRX high row.
Walk in a little further with your arms fully extended, while leaning your upper body back.
Row your elbows back and flare them up so that they’re about 90 degrees away from the body.
Row back until your hands are almost even with your chest. Then slowly lower back down and repeat for reps.
Another variation for the front and middle parts of your shoulders is the TRX overhead raise.
Again, you would start in a similar position, with your body in a straight line, leaning back.
Instead of rowing or performing a reverse fly, raise both hands straight up over the head. Keep a slight bend in each elbow.
Slowly lower back down and repeat for reps.
Workout set up tips
If you want to set this up as a workout, here’s a plan for you.
Take a few of these shoulder exercises, (about 6), mixing up between the front, middle, and back shoulder heads.
Then, simply do 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps for each. For some exercises you can do more reps. The forward-leaning push-ups are an example.
If you can do 15-20 reps, make sure you do push yourself. There’s no reason to stop yourself short.
Over time, you can challenge yourself more by squeezing out a couple of extra reps. Do this about every couple of times you do the workout.
That about wraps it up. You should now have a good idea of the different shoulder exercises you can do at home with limited equipment.
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