You need strong shoulders in order to develop the rest of your upper body.
But if you don’t have a gym full of dumbbells and squat racks, don’t panic!
No gym – no problem.
Below, we’ve compiled the top 40 bodyweight shoulder exercises.
You’ll find all the exercises necessary to develop the three heads of the shoulder:
- Anterior Deltoid
- Lateral Deltoid
- Posterior Deltoid
3D shoulders require a balance between these three shoulder muscles. Luckily, bodyweight shoulder exercises will help you build your practical fitness.
Let’s get started.
40 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises
1. Pike Push-Up
Pike push-ups and variations are great beginner shoulder exercises.
Use the pike push-up to build your strength so you can advance to more difficult exercises, like handstand push-ups.
2. Elevated Pike Push-Up
The elevated pike push-up takes you one step closer to emulating the handstand push-up.
3. Plank to Alternate Pike
4. Pike Crunch
The Pike Crunch adds a bit more core work to the shoulder exercise.
5. Push-Back Push-Up
This exercise takes the push-up emphasis away from the chest and focuses instead on the shoulder muscles.
6. Archer Push-Up
This is a great exercise for building your anterior deltoids. This exercise will also help later when you progress to archer pull-ups.
7. Bridge Push-Up
8. Dive-Bomber Push-Up
Focus on slow controlled form. You won’t be cranking out as many reps as you would with push-ups, but that’s okay.
Take it nice and slow, feeling the burn on those shoulders.
9. Hindu Push-Up
The Hindu push-up is very similar to the dive-bomber push-up.
But the Hindu push-up actually gives you a further range of motion and improved flexibility.
10. Reverse Push-Up
11. Handstand Push-Up
This is probably the best bodyweight shoulder exercise! But it’s a beast to learn.
Since your basically shoulder pressing your entire body, no other exercise puts the same stress and tension on your deltoids.
The handstand variations below will help you progress into the exercise.
12. Wall Handstand Push-Up
Like handstand push-ups, wall handstand push-ups put all your mass onto your shoulders, but leaning against the wall takes some of the stress away from your stabilizing muscles.
13. Negative Wall Handstand Push-Up
If wall-assisted handstand push-ups are still too difficult, this eccentric variation will help you.
14. Wall Handstand Hold
You can do the wall handstand hold alone, or you can add 5-10 seconds holds in between your push-ups.
15. Wall Push-Up Walkup
Not only is this a great shoulder workout, but the wall walkout helps you learn how to get into handstand push-up position.
17. Handstand Wall Walks
18. Shoulder Tap
19. Wall Shoulder Tap
You can also alternate tapping your hand against your opposite shoulder, as well.
The planche is another advanced bodyweight shoulders exercise.
The three fundamental exercises below will help you in your planche progression.
21. Planche Lean
The planche leans conditions the shoulder muscles necessary to hold your body in the leaning position.
22. Pseudo Planche Push-Up
23. Tuck Planche Hold
You can practice the planche hold on the ground (like in the video) or between parallel bars.
24. Victorian Cross
A surprisingly difficult exercise. This might look simple – but give it a try!
25. Arm Circles
Arm circles help develop your shoulders and loosen up your rotator cuffs.
This is a great warm-up exercise before you get into heavier bodyweight shoulder exercises.
26. Angry Cat Walks
Angry cat walks are great for overall shoulder development, targeting the scapula.
Not something you want to try at the gym…but a great at-home exercise.
27. Crab Walk
Awesome for shoulder warm-ups and mobility.
28. Bear Crawl
There’s a reason the bear crawl is a favorite for football strength coaches. This is an effective, challenging exercise that will whip you into shape.
29. Inverted Row
The inverted row is mainly a back exercise but by raising your arms past a 45-degree angle, you’ll begin putting more pressure on your posterior delts.
30. Single-Arm Plank
The single-arm plank requires you to stabilize your body through your shoulders.
It cuts out the resting hold of the traditional plank.
31. Side Plank
32. Bodyweight Side Lateral Raise
Bodyweight side lateral raises work the lateral head of your deltoid.
33. Korean Dip
Korean dips are a difficult exercise that requires powerful triceps.
If you have any shoulder mobility issues, avoid this exercise for now.
34. Rear Deltoid Raise
If you don’t have a TRX, then you can use a towel secured around a lampost, pole, etc.
35. Front Shoulder Raise
36. Archer Pull-Up
37. Head Banger
Muscle-Ups require a strong back, core, shoulders, chest, and triceps.
If you want a great compound exercise for complete upper body development, go for the muscle-up.
39. Plank Ups
Pretty simple, but effective, exercise for working your shoulders and core.
40. Roof on Fire
Roof on Fire is a shoulder-burning exercise that packs a punch. Give it a try!
Our Favorite Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises
You don’t need to do all the exercises above to develop complete shoulders, but you do need a nice variety in order to target all three deltoid heads.
Here are our go-to shoulder exercises for complete shoulder development:
- Pike Push-Ups
- Wall Handstand Push-Ups
- Wall Handstand Holds
- Pseudo Planche Push-Ups
- Bear Crawl
- Inverted Rows
- Dive-Bomber Push-Ups
- Bodyweight Side Lateral Raises
Try these exercises for yourself and see what you like.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. Many times the content is not written by a single author, instead it is usually a team effort.