Want to build strong and sculpted shoulders like Arnold Schwarzenegger? Or, do you simply wish to impress your crush with a solid build?
Whatever your reason, calisthenic shoulder exercises are your way to go!
Do you know you can get iron shoulders without lifting weights, using just your body weight?
Besides making you look bulky, toned shoulders help improve your posture, boost mobility, and make it easy for you to knock out the house chores. Whether you want to enhance your pull-up skills or want to accomplish a handstand, a shoulder calisthenics workout is what you need.
Keep reading to know more!
What Are Calisthenics for Shoulders?
Calisthenics shoulder exercises are strength training exercises that primarily target the shoulders. The purpose is to build shoulder muscles by using your body weight. These exercises can improve mobility, build endurance, and strengthen your upper body.
To understand the concept of shoulder calisthenics better, you need to understand your shoulder’s anatomy (4). Your shoulder consists of three muscle groups: the anterior deltoid, the posterior deltoid, and the lateral deltoid. Each of these muscle groups performs different functions.
Your anterior deltoids work when you move your arms in front of you or in an upward direction. Your posterior deltoids work when you pull your arms backward. Similarly, your lateral deltoids work when you move your arms upwards by your sides.
Targeting a single muscle group in typical calisthenics or gym workout sessions is impossible. The calisthenics bodyweight shoulder exercises specifically target muscle groups, helping you build a strong chest, shoulders, core, and back.
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What Are Three Exercises that Strengthen Your Shoulders?
Did you know that calisthenics is like the superhero of workouts for beginners? It’s like the “no-equipment-needed” champion of the fitness world. So, if you’re just starting your fitness journey and don’t want to deal with fancy machines and gizmos, calisthenics is your friendly neighborhood workout!
The calisthenics shoulder workout with no equipment doesn’t only strengthen but also tones your shoulders. Performing these exercises regularly can enhance your endurance and upper body strength. Think of it, you won’t be just building your shoulders but also benefit from a stronger core, chest, arms, and back. But first, you must do a calisthenics warm-up to avoid injuries later, as you will exert a lot of stress on your shoulders.
An important thing to note when performing exercises is that you must establish a strong mind-muscle connection, i.e., feel your muscles working and bearing your body weight. It would be best to visualize your muscle groups moving to take the weight before and during your exercise. This can help activate muscle engagement and potentially build them effectively (8).
Let’s take a look at the best calisthenics shoulder exercise for you to do at home (1):
Pushups is a conventional yet the best calisthenics arm and shoulder workout you can do anywhere. They use your maximum body weight and exert pressure on your shoulders and arms, improving their strength (10).To do traditional pushups:
- Find a comfortable place and get on all fours on the ground.
- Ensure your arms are placed shoulder-width apart and are straight.
- You must slightly round your upper back to prevent stiffness and engage your core.
- Slightly bend your legs at the hips.
- Your knees, legs, and feet must be placed on the ground.
- Inhale and lower your body as low as possible by bending your elbows.
- Your abs must be tight, and your knees must be resting on the ground.
- Exhale and return to the starting position by straightening your arms.
- Do this exercise for three sets of 5-10 reps.
Alternatively, you can do wall pushups and inclined pushups on a table. Wall pushups could be listed as the best calisthenics shoulder exercises for beginners. To perform wall pushups:
- Find a wall and stand in front of it.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the ground and your hands on the wall. They must also be shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale, tighten your core, and press your body towards the wall by bending your elbows to over 90 degrees and reaching near the border.
- Exhale and return to the starting position by straightening your elbows.
- Do wall pushups for 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps.
If you want to build a strong back, consider doing pull-up exercises, one of the ideal calisthenics back exercises (11). You can find any elevated surface or use a pull-up bar to perform this shoulder workout:
- Stand near the pullup bar or an elevated surface from which you can hang.
- Jump to grab the pullup bar with your hands.
- You can bend your legs and feet backward to support your weight.
- Ensure your hands are shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale and slowly lift yourself using your arms till you reach the bar. You will feel much pressure on your arms, shoulders, and back.
- Exhale and lower yourself down to the starting position. That’s one rep.
- Repeat this exercise for 2-3 sets of 4-5 reps.
- Lie on the ground facing away from the wall.
- Walk your feet up the wall until your soles touch the wall.
- Begin by walking away as far as possible and then return to the starting position by stepping down.
- Do this exercise a few times until you feel at ease. You can then move onto handstands.
The challenging yet the most interesting handstands are an ideal calisthenics chest workout. They are perfect for individuals looking to take their calisthenics to the next level (5). To perform a handstand:
- Stand opposite to the wall.
- Get into a pushup position with you facing away from the wall.
- Lift your feet and walk up to the wall until you are upside down.
- Slowly move your hands a bit forward until you are standing on your hands without the support of the wall.
- Return to the wall and do this again.
You can also include handstand pushups in the advanced calisthenics shoulder exercises. To do this, get into a handstand position. Bend your elbows to reach the ground and straighten them to return to the original position.
If handstands are too advanced for you, you can do pike pushups. Pike pushups effectively target anterior and lateral deltoids and are the best calisthenics shoulder workout for beginners (9). To perform this exercise, take the following steps:
- Get onto an elevated surface like a table.
- Place your hands firmly on the ground so that your back is vertical and your legs are horizontally placed on the table.
- The closer you place your hands to the table, the better.
- Begin by lowering your head as much as you can to the ground and return to the starting position. This counts as a single rep.
- Repeat this exercise for 2-3 sets of 4-8 reps.
Can You Grow Shoulders With Just Body Weight?
You can build attractive shoulders with your body weight through calisthenics shoulder exercises. Given that you are using resistance from your body weight, you can build steel shoulders with nothing but your endless efforts.
Here are a few exceptional and results-oriented shoulder calisthenics you must do.
Shoulder taps are another exceptional calisthenics workout for the core and shoulder. It is an advanced version of a traditional plank. To perform this:
- Get into a plank position on the ground.
- Be sure your arms and legs are straight with your hands pressed firmly on the ground.
- Begin by tapping your right hand on your left shoulder and alternate as you continue.
- Repeat this for 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps.
Declined pushups target your shoulders, particularly your anterior deltoids, more specifically, so they are the best calisthenics shoulder exercises (4). To perform the decline push-ups:
- Find an elevated surface like a chair or a table.
- Get into a pushup position with your legs and feet on the table.
- Place your hands firmly on the ground and ensure they are straight.
- Begin by lowering your body till you reach at least an inch above the ground.
- Return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
- Perform three sets of decline pushups for 5-10 reps.
Mountain climbers are excellent calisthenics as they provide benefits of both strength training and cardio. They can enhance your muscular strength and endurance in your shoulder and abs (13). To perform mountain climbers:
- Get into a plank position.
- Ensure your hands are placed on the ground, and your legs are slightly bent.
- Begin by pulling your right knee toward your left chest while keeping the other leg straight.
- Repeat the same with your other knee.
- Try to increase the speed and alternate between both knees.
- Repeat this exercise for three sets of 8-12 reps.
If you are just starting out and want to build your shoulders, consider doing this calisthenics shoulder workout for beginners (1).
- 15 Push-ups
- 30 Mountain climbers
- 20 Dips
- 20 Shoulder taps
- 20 Plank to down dog
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Do You Need Strong Shoulders for Calisthenics?
Yes, you need some shoulder swagger to perform calisthenics. Shoulder strength is the gateway to conducting expert-level movements. If you don’t take time to train your shoulders, you won’t be able to make significant progress in calisthenics.
The good news is that building strong shoulders isn’t as difficult as some may perceive. This means that you can perform them even if you are a beginner. You will need ample shoulder strength to perform advanced calisthenics like handstands or decline pushups. Hence, you can begin with easy exercises like wall pushups or mountain climbers.
Gradually, you may feel better at executing these basic calisthenics shoulder exercises. Then you can advance to difficult ones.
What Are the Benefits of Calisthenics Shoulder Exercises?
Shoulder calisthenics do so much more than enlarging your shoulders. They can improve stability and endurance and make you feel more energetic. Here are a few benefits of performing these exercises (2).
The first benefit of performing shoulder calisthenics is increased shoulder strength. When you exert your body’s weight on your shoulders, they respond more to the intensity and can increase strength and muscle mass.
The best benefit of calisthenics is that they can be performed anywhere and everywhere. You don’t need to hit the gym or lift weights to build sexy shoulders. All you need is a comfortable place and your body to get going.
Shoulder calisthenics mimic everyday movements like lifting, pulling, and moving. These exercises can help improve functional movement mobility and flexibility. As a result, you can perform these daily activities easily.
Better Joint Stability
Exercising your shoulders can improve joint stability and make you less prone to serious issues like a frozen shoulder, dislocation, or strains.
Builds Strong Core
Calisthenics shoulder exercises can build your shoulders and enhance core strength as you engage your core in many exercises like planks, pushups, or mountain climbers. As a result, you can get a strong core and a strong upper body.
Calisthenics has various levels so you can perform them according to your fitness. If you are a beginner, wall pushups may be ideal, but if you have ample upper body strength, you can do handstand pushups easily.
Alleviates Neck Pain
Calisthenics shoulder exercises not only build shoulder strength but can also help alleviate shoulder fatigue and neck pain.
What Are Some Effective Calisthenics Shoulder Exercises?
If you want to build bulky shoulders, here are a few effective exercises that can help you out:
Commandoes are advanced conventional planks that simultaneously engage your shoulders and core, increasing strength and endurance (6). To perform this exercise:
- Get into a plank position with your elbows pressed firmly on the ground and your toes pressed into the floor.
- Begin by rising into a standard plank position and returning to the starting position after a second or two.
- Repeat this exercise for a few times.
- Do commandos for 2-3 sets of 4-5 reps.
Dips are an excellent arm and shoulder exercise that can build your triceps (6). To perform dips:
- Grab a dip bar. You can use two chairs or a table if you don’t have one.
- Jump and grab the dip bar with your hands.
- Keep your knees and legs bent backward.
- Inhale and lower yourself until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees or more.
- You will feel pressure on your shoulders and arms.
- Raise yourself until you return to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise for three sets of 5-6 reps.
While planks are mostly done for abs, side planks can effectively build lateral deltoids (7). To perform side planks:
- Press your left arm firmly on the ground.
- Keep your body straight and balanced on your left arm with your right arm on the side.
- Ensure your legs are placed firmly on the ground.
- Begin by lifting yourself and getting into a side plank position.
- Maintain this position for as long as possible and then return to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise for a few times.
The IYT exercise may help build the core, arms, and shoulders. You can perform them anywhere (12). To perform this exercise:
- Lie flat on the ground.
- Extend your arms straight ahead with your palms facing the ground to make an I position.
- Bring them back and extend them again, but keep a distance between them to make a Y position.
- Return them to the starting position and raise them sidewise in opposite directions to make a T position.
- Repeat this for a few times.
Is it OK to do calisthenics every day?
It is okay to do calisthenics daily as long as you are warming up properly and not overworking yourself. If you are a beginner, starting slow and doing basic exercises before advancing to difficult ones is advised. Make sure to follow a well-balanced program to prevent over-training.
What exercise targets all shoulders?
Shoulder press with Dumbbells or a barbell, and Arnold press are two excellent exercises that target all muscle groups of the shoulders.
What works shoulders the most?
Exercises like the barbell overhead press, Arnold press, and push press are the best when it comes to working shoulders the most.
The Bottom Line
Shoulders are like the secret weapon for awesome calisthenics moves. And calisthenics shoulder exercises are the best yet most convenient for building immense strength. We have broken down to ensure readers understand proper form and technique, helping them minimize the risk of injury and maximize their progress.
If you do these shoulder exercises, you’ll get better at calisthenics. Just remember, be safe, and get your moves right. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or already a pro. Strong shoulders are the key to nailing bodyweight exercises. With this in mind, start your shoulder-strengthening journey and watch your calisthenics skills skyrocket!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 3 Shoulder Calisthenics Workouts for All Fitness Levels (n.d., runninforsweets.com)
- 9 Great Shoulder Exercises with No Equipment (2023, issaonline.com)
- 50 Exercises for a Bodyweight Workout You Can Do Anywhere (2020, greatist.com)
- Calisthenics Workout for Iron Shoulders (n.d., bodyweighttrainingarena.com)
- Empower Your Home Workouts With the 10 Best Pieces of Calisthenic Equipment (2023, dmoose.com)
- Get Strong Arms, Shoulders And Core, All At Once With This Exercise- Watch Video To Try It Now! (2020, ndtv.com)
- How to Do a Side Plank: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes (2022, verywellfit.com)
- Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Pike Push Ups Beginner Tutorial: Build Bigger Shoulders (n.d., gymless.org)
- The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- The Benefits of Pullups (2019, healthline.com)
- Try the Superman Exercise to Stand Tall and Proud (2023, healthline.com)
- What Muscles Do Mountain Climbers Work? (2022, healthline.com)