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At-Home Shoulder Workout

Build bigger shoulders wherever you are without a single dumbbell, barbell, or machine with this hard-hitting routine.

At Home Shoulder Workout

In the first two installments of my At-Home Workout training series, I showed you how to get great leg and chest workouts using nothing but bodyweight and common items you can find around the house (a backpack, a chair or couch, etc.). Now, it's time to train shoulders at home.

I started writing this series of articles in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with gyms closing all over the world and people forced to stay at home and make do. These workouts, however, can be used any time you're unable to get to the gym (virus or no virus) and find yourself lacking training tools like dumbbells, barbells, and machines — but not lacking the motivation and desire to keep training hard and seeing gains in muscle size and strength.

In fact, taking a break from gym workouts could actually spark some new results, possibly helping you break through training plateaus due to the novel exercises and techniques employed in my at-home workouts. Maybe your muscles are in need of a change of scenery, a change of stimulus. That being said, here's a shoulder-stimulating routine like you've never seen. 

Workout Overview

Training shoulders at home can be a challenge, as your main shoulder moves are overhead presses, upright rows, and raises (lateral raises, rear delt raises, etc.). With just your body weight, you’re very limited. There’s the Pike Press, which mimics a shoulder press and is basically an inverted push-up, but this is a very difficult exercise for most people. Other than that, there are few ways to target the deltoids.

Yet, with some simple objects you probably have in your house – such as water/soda bottles or a backpack – and proper science-based programming (my specialty), you can get an amazing delt workout. That’s exactly what I’ve come up with in the below routine.  

Warm-Up: Arm Circles + Arm Swings

I highly recommend preceding the workout with a 10-15-minute general warm-up of riding a stationary cycle, walking or running, or calisthenics.

After that, the workout starts with the same dynamic warm-up I included for the chest, since both muscle groups (pecs and deltoids) involve the shoulder joint. You’ll do 10 small forward arm circles (about 1 foot in diameter), followed by another 10 in the opposite (reverse) direction. Then, you’ll do 10 forward arm swings with bigger circles (about 2 feet in diameter), and 10 big reverse arm circles. You’ll finish off with 10 horizontal arm swings, crossing your arms in front of your body.

If you do this routine in the same workout as the chest one, of course, you don’t have to do the warm-up a second time; your shoulders will be plenty warm by the time delts come around.

Power-Up: High Pull Throw to Overhead Press Throw

On the heels of the dynamic warm-up, we’ll keep things dynamic with some power training. Here, we’re going to combine an explosive pull with a power press, using a loaded backpack. Put whatever relatively heavy items you have (books, canned goods, etc.) into the backpack to provide resistance, and be sure to stuff it with clothes (like I show in this video) to keep the weight from shifting in the bag.

This combo exercise involves two movements – a high pull and an overhead press – each finishing with a throw for maximum height. You’ll be involving many muscles from head to toe, with an emphasis on the shoulders. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand with a hip- to shoulder-width stance over the backpack.
  2. Hold the top handle of the backpack with both hands (like you’d do with a kettlebell), with your arms hanging straight down in front of you.
  3. Quickly dip down into a quarter- to half-squat, then immediately extend your hips, knees, and ankles to explode off the floor. As you do this, pull the bag up in front of you using your upper body (similar to an upright rowing motion), and release the bag near the top position, throwing it overhead as high as possible.
  4. As the bag comes back down, catch the bottom of it in front of your chest with both hands. Pause for a moment and reset the bag in your hands if needed.
  5. From there, dip down again into a

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