5 Exercises to Help You Get Bigger Shoulders at Home

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A dedicated routine of pull-ups and push-up variations can help you build bigger shoulders, even at home.
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Getting bigger shoulders at home takes hard work and consistency, but it's more than achievable. When you can't get to the gym, a simple shoulder exercise routine — performed three times a week, on non-consecutive days — will help you quickly build stronger shoulders right in the comfort of your home, without spending lots of money on fancy equipment.

"A great way to build bigger shoulders at home is through pull-ups and push-ups," says Michelle Miller, CEO of MM Fitness in Tallahassee, Florida, and owner and founder of My First Workout.

"It's quite easy and inexpensive to install a pull-up bar or an over-the-doorframe model," she says. "They're super handy because they are portable and require very little assembly, and there is no permanent installation. If that's not an option, find a local playground: There are always monkey bars there."

Pull-Up Bars to Try

But don't underestimate the power of equipment-free moves for building shoulder strength. Relying on your own body weight while performing basic push-ups will target the shoulders and help build lean muscle mass quickly. And there are plenty of ways to enhance your push-ups to challenge yourself and increase intensity of your at-home shoulder workout.

"A few of my favorite variations are decline push-ups and explosive push-ups," Miller says. "I love to work the same muscle group in as many positions as possible in the course of a workout."

In short, the possibilities for shoulder-building at home are wide-ranging. Here are some of the best exercises for shoulders to get you started.

Tip

Beginners should start with one set per exercise for the first week to reduce the risk of severe muscle soreness. Build up to 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise, and rest between each set.

1. Basic Push-up

  1. Start in a high plank with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to toes.
  2. Contract your ab muscles so that your hips don't sag and your back doesn't arch.
  3. Bend your elbows as you lower your chest to the ground, keeping your hips level. Your elbows should be at about a 45-degree angle away from your body.
  4. Once you lower as far as you can, push yourself back up to a plank.

2. Decline Push-up

  1. Start in a plank with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart on the floor or a mat.
  2. Place your feet on an elevated surface that's about 12 to 20 inches off the floor (such as a bench or step).
  3. Contract your ab muscles so that your hips don't sag and your back doesn't arch.
  4. Perform a classic push-up movement (see above): Bend your elbows as you lower your chest to the ground, keeping your hips level.
  5. Once you lower as far as you can, push yourself back up to your starting position.

3. Explosive Push-up

  1. Start at the top of a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees and elbows completely straight.
  2. Lower yourself to the bottom of the push-up position with your chest hovering just above the ground.
  3. Press yourself up as quickly and explosively as possible so that your hands leave the ground.
  4. Return to the ground and your starting position.

4. Pike Push-up

  1. Lie on your stomach with your hands and feet approximately shoulder-width apart.
  2. Steadily push yourself off the floor by extending your arms and raise your hips in the air.
  3. Push your weight back toward your heels and form an inverted angle with your body, hips raised. Maintain this position as you bend your elbows and lower yourself down.
  4. Stop when your forehead is an inch above the floor, push yourself back up.

5. Doorway Pull-Up

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar (either in a doorway or using the monkey bars at a playground) with your palms facing out and your hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lift your feet behind you if you can still touch the ground while holding the bar.
  2. Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
  3. Slowly lower yourself back down with control.

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