Shoulder Workout With Dumbbells At Home

Shoulder Workout With Dumbbells at Home

If you’re looking for the best shoulder workout with dumbbells at home, you’re in luck. This workout can be just as effective as any gym-based workout, so long as you do the exercises correctly and stay consistent.

Dumbbells You Need for Home Shoulder Workout

Two sets of dumbbells are all you need – a pair of heavier and a pair of lighter dumbbells.

Dumbbells Setup for a Home Workout

To achieve a very effective home dumbbell workout, you really only need two sets of dumbbells (4 dumbbells total):

  • One light set of dumbbells for smaller muscles (biceps, triceps, shoulders)
  • One heavy set of dumbbells for larger muscles (back, chest, legs) 

That way, with only two sets of dumbbells, you don’t have a full room packed with a rack of 20 dumbbells (unless of course you want that). And more importantly, it’s not necessary to achieve a really great workout.

The dumbbells you purchase are based on your experience and fitness level, as well as your general strength. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Beginner
    Light: 5 or 8# Dumbbells
    Heavy: 15 or 20# Dumbbells
  • Intermediate
    Light: 10 or 15# Dumbbells
    Heavy: 20 or 25# Dumbbells
  • Advanced
    Light: 15 or 20# Dumbbells
    Heavy: 30 or 40# Dumbbells

If you’re not sure about the weights, take a visit to your local Walmart, Sports Authority, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or similar store and test them out.

A good test to check your light and heavy dumbbell, is to do some dumbbell side raises to gauge your light dumbbell, and bicep curls to gauge your heavy dumbbells. You want to have mild resistance for each one, but not overloaded.

There is variation here, and it’s a very personal preference. 

We highly recommend the rubber dumbbells at Rogue Fitness. They are very durable, and are superior at protecting your floors.

For shoulder workouts, you will need lighter dumbbells for side raises, and heavier dumbbells for shoulder presses (above your head).

You can generally use the same two sets of dumbbells for all of your home workouts.

The Shoulder Workout With Dumbbells at Home

A good shoulder workout with dumbbells at home will have 3-4 unique exercises, each of which emphasizes a different head on the shoulder muscle. 

The shoulder muscle, called the deltoids, is a triangular-shaped muscle made up of three heads:

  • Anterior (front)
  • Medial (middle)
  • Posterior (back)

Dumbbell Shoulder Press (Seated or Standing)

Primary Shoulder Muscle Worked: 
Anterior & Medial & Posterior (all 3 muscles)

Shoulder Workout at Home With Dumbbells

  1. From a seated or standing position, start with the heavy dumbbells at your side.
  2. Lift the dumbbells up to the starting position, so they are above and slightly in front of your shoulders as shown. This is the start position.
  3. Lift the dumbbells straight up in a steady and controlled motion. Extend your arms until they’re nearly straight, and this is the up position.
  4. Return to the start position.

Dumbbell Side Raises

Primary Shoulder Muscle Worked: 
Medial (Middle) Deltoid

Shoulder Workout at Home

  1. From a standing position with good posture, hold the dumbbells at your side, with palms facing each other. This is the start position.
  2. Lift the dumbbells straight out to your side until your arms are parallel to the ground. Hold the up position for 2 seconds.
  3. Return to the start position.

Dumbbell Front Raises

Primary Shoulder Muscle Worked: 
Anterior (Front) Deltoid

Shoulder Dumbbell Workout at Home

  1. From a standing position, hold the dumbbells in front of you as shown, with your palms facing your body.
  2. Lift the dumbbells straight out to the front, until your arms are parallel to the floor. Hold the up position for 2 seconds.
  3. Return to the start position.

Bent Over Dumbbell Side Raises

Primary Shoulder Muscle Worked: 
Posterior (Rear) Deltoid

Bent Over Dumbbell Side Raises

  1. With dumbbells at your side, bend at the waist so that your upper body is nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight. 
  2. Hold the dumbbells straight down below you. This is the start position.
  3. Lift the dumbbells straight out to the side, in a reverse flyes motion. Hold the up position for 2 seconds.
  4. Return to the start position.

Shoulder Workout With Dumbbells

Dumbbell Shoulder Press36-12
Dumbbell Side Raises36-12
Dumbbell Front Raises36-12
Bent Over Side Raises36-12
Dumbbell Shoulder Workout Dumbbells

Proper Shoulder Warm-up is a Must

A proper warm-up is a must. You need to prepare your body before you push yourself physically. 

Do some arm rotations, arm swings, and basic shoulder and arm movements for 2-3 minutes. A full dynamic stretch is the best warm-up to do before any resistance training.

And click for more detailed shoulder stretches to do after your workout.

Proper Hydration for Workouts

Proper hydration is vital for good performance and adequate post-training recovery. According to most research, we should aim for at least two liters of fluids every day and have some before, during, and after our workouts. (1)

A Healthy Diet and Proper Nutrition

Healthy nutrition is vital for building lean muscle. Make sure to eat plenty of veggies, lots of protein sources (meat, fish, etc.), and healthy carb sources for fuel – rice, oats, bananas, etc.

Get Plenty of Rest for Your Muscles to Grow

Our muscles grow while we rest. So, making sure to rest enough is of utmost importance for adequate recovery and optimal growth. (2)

Shoulder Anatomy

Shoulder Muscle Anatomy

Despite being a relatively small muscle, the shoulder has three distinct heads – a posterior or scapular (rear), a lateral or acromial (middle), and anterior or clavicular (front). (3)

Each of the three heads has unique functions, and each contributes to different movements. For example, the front and side heads of the shoulder contribute to pressing movements like the overhead and bench press. The side head is also involved in movements such as lateral raises.

The rear head is involved in pulling exercises, especially those where the elbows are raised to the sides. For example, on a cable rope face pull.

Shoulder Injury and Safety

And always keep top of mind, that shoulder injuries can be very challenging indeed. They can easily set you back months, so always make sure to prioritize safety in all your shoulder workouts.

  1. Only lift dumbbells that are well within your comfort zone.
  2. Increase weight only when you’re certain that it’s safe.
  3. Always do some dynamic stretching with arm swings and arm rotations prior to your workout.
  4. Always remember the age-old adage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take caution to avoid a shoulder injury, as it’s much easier than trying to heal one.

If you do have some shoulder pain, or worse yet an injury, there are some good resources at Center TRT to help with healing and recovery. Always err on the side of caution! If you think your shoulder is healed and ready, then wait one more week to be sure!

The Merits Of Home Training

While many people scoff at the idea of home training, there are many benefits to it. For one, you don’t have to spend time and money on commuting and gym memberships. You also get to save time, and you can have great workouts in the comfort of your home.

And you don’t need a full rack of dumbbells. Just a few dumbbells from Rogue Fitness and you’re in business. And these dumbbells are amazing at protecting your home and floors.

Shoulder training at home with a pair of dumbbells can be as practical as any shoulder workout in the gym. Unlike muscle groups like the legs or chest, where having a squat rack or bench press is useful, shoulder workouts need little else apart from a pair of dumbbells to be fantastic.

Click for more home workouts, and also our video library of shoulder workouts.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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  1. Dr. Jasmine Shaikh, M. D. (2021, September 17). Is it safe to drink 2 liters of water a day? Hydration Health Benefits. MedicineNet.
  2. Healthy buffs: Making gains with your rest days. CU Boulder Today. (2018, November 13).
  3. Deltoid muscles: What are they, anatomy, Location & Function. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.).

Click to see our medical disclosure.