Weight-Free Workouts: 5 Moves to Strengthen Your Shoulders

Getting to the gym is hard enough as is, and the wait for equipment once you’re there makes it even worse. Fortunately, you can get a great workout without any dumbbells, barbells, or fancy machinery. Our Weight-Free Workouts series focuses on a different muscle group each time to show you how to build strength, even when you don’t have access to a gym. With these moves, any time can be workout time. 

Whether you typically don a suit or a more casual T-shirt, strong shoulders are the key to a broad, great-looking upper body. As wonderful as it feels to look like a model in your favorite clothes, aesthetics become a lot less important when you consider the vital role shoulders play in everyday life. Anything involving pressing, pushing, throwing, and basically moving the arm at all relies on the shoulder joint. Its composition makes this joint the most flexible in the body, but all that movement makes it extremely prone to injury.

By addressing both strength and flexibility with these five exercises, you’ll be able to keep your shoulders in great shape. This can benefit everything from your basketball game to your ability to change a lightbulb. And yes, you’ll also look stellar in your clothes.

1. Inchworms

man in downward dog position

Inchworms are great for the shoulders. | iStock.com

Despite the silly name, this exercise is a serious challenge for your back, chest, arms, abs, and shoulders. Though isolated moves to target your shoulders specifically are important, these types of full-body moves will help build your coordination. It won’t do you any good to have strong shoulders if you aren’t able to use them in conjunction with the rest of your body. It’s also a good idea to balance your shoulder workout days with other workouts so you don’t stress the area too much, which can lead to a tear or other injury.

Begin standing with your feet almost touching and your hands at your sides. Bend at the hips, keeping your knees straight but not locked, until you can reach the floor with your hands. Use your hands to walk yourself forward until you are in a plank position with your palms on the floor directly below you shoulders. Perform one push-up, then walk your feet toward your hands while keeping your palms planted. When you get close to your hands, switch to walking with your hands to perform the next sequence. ACE Fitness suggests aiming to cover 10 to 15 yards. As the move becomes easier, perform several push-ups in each downward phase to increase the challenge.