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Shoulder Workout Calisthenics Guide For Beginners

Calisthenics exercises

The shoulders are a pivotal part of our physical framework, playing a crucial role in almost every bodily movement. Their health and strength directly impact our overall mobility and performance. However, they are often overlooked in traditional workout routines, leading to imbalances and injuries. Here’s where calisthenics comes into play. It offers an effective approach to shoulder training, focusing on bodyweight exercises that promote mobility, strength, and endurance without the need for extensive gym equipment. This guide will provide you with a solid foundation to incorporate shoulder workout calisthenics into your fitness routine.  Here’s everything you need to know to master the basics and enhance your shoulder strength.

How Can I Make My Shoulders Bigger?

To make your shoulders bigger, you need to consistently engage in a well-rounded exercise routine that targets the three main muscles in your shoulders: the anterior deltoid, the lateral deltoid, and the posterior deltoid (13). 

Incorporating a variety of exercises into your workout routine is key to effectively stimulate shoulder growth and strength.

The shoulders are unique because they’re one of the most mobile joints in the body, capable of a wide range of movements. This mobility comes from the interaction of several muscles and tendons.

The three deltoids – anterior (front), lateral (middle), and posterior (rear) – play a crucial role in this. Each deltoid has a specific function and needs to be individually targeted for balanced, overall shoulder development.

To target these muscles, incorporate exercises like overhead presses, lateral raises, and rear delt flyes into your routine. Overhead presses are excellent for working the anterior deltoid, while lateral raises target the lateral deltoid, and rear delt flyes focus on the posterior deltoid (4).

See also
Upper Body Bodyweight Exercises: Unlock Your Strength with Calisthenics

Read More: The Ultimate Full Body Calisthenics Workout For Beginners

How Do Calisthenics Athletes Train Shoulders?

Calisthenics athletes train their shoulders by incorporating a variety of bodyweight exercises that target all three shoulder muscles – the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids. These exercises include handstand push-ups, dips, pike push-ups, and inverted rows.

Calisthenics is an effective method for shoulder training because it focuses on functional strength and mobility, which are crucial for overall shoulder health and performance. 

The bodyweight exercises used in calisthenics not only target the individual shoulder muscles but also engage the synergistic muscles and core, promoting balanced muscle development and improving overall upper body strength (5).

Handstand push-ups, one of the most challenging calisthenics exercises, mainly target the anterior deltoids while also engaging the whole shoulder girdle and core. Dips, on the other hand, primarily work the anterior and lateral deltoids. 

Pike push-ups are a more accessible exercise that still effectively targets the entire shoulder region. Lastly, inverted rows are excellent for targeting the posterior deltoids, often neglected in typical shoulder workouts.

shoulder workout calisthenics

What Is The Best Calisthenics For Big Shoulders?

When it comes to calisthenics for bigger shoulders, the focus should be on technique, frequency, and progression. The goal is to stress the shoulder muscles in a controlled manner to stimulate growth, but also give them enough time and adequate rest to recover and grow bigger  (6).


Proper form is crucial in calisthenics. It not only prevents injury but also ensures that the targeted muscles, in this case, the shoulders, are being effectively worked (10). Therefore, take time to learn and master the correct form of each exercise.

See also
Calisthenics Body Type: 6 Real-Life Benefits You Need to Know


Training frequency refers to how often you work a muscle group.

For optimal shoulder development, aim to incorporate shoulder-focused calisthenics into your routine 2-3 times per week (2). This allows enough time for muscle recovery and growth.


Over time, your body adapts to the exercises you’re performing. To continue seeing results, you need to progressively increase the challenge – whether that’s adding more reps or sets,, introducing more difficult variations, or decreasing rest time between sets.

Rest And Recovery

Rest periods are just as important as the workouts themselves. They give your muscles time to repair, grow, and get stronger. Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and nutrition to support your training and recovery.

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Sample Calisthenics Shoulder Workout For Beginners

Exercise 1: Wall Push-Ups

  • Position: Stand at arm’s length from a wall
  • Execution: Bend elbows, bring body toward the wall, then push back
  • Sets & Reps: 2 sets of 10-15 reps

Exercise 2: Plank To Downward Dog

  • Position: Start in plank position
  • Execution: Lift hips to transition into downward dog pose
  • Sets & Reps: 2 sets of 10 reps

Exercise 3: Arm Circles

  • Position: Stand with arms extended out to the sides
  • Execution: Make small forward circles with arms for 30 seconds, then reverse direction for another 30 seconds
  • Sets & Reps: 2 sets in each direction
See also
Does Calisthenics Build Muscle? A Dive Into Scientific Evidence

Exercise 4: Inchworms

  • Position: Start from a standing position
  • Execution: Bend over, walk hands forward to plank, then walk them back and stand up
  • Sets & Reps: 2 sets of 8-10 reps

Exercise 5: Shoulder Taps

  • Position: Start in high plank position
  • Execution: Lift one hand to tap opposite shoulder, repeat with other hand
  • Sets & Reps: 2 sets of 10 taps per side

Read More: Calisthenics Beginner Workout Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

shoulder workout calisthenics

How Do I Get A Bigger Upper Body With Calisthenics? 

Building a bigger upper body with calisthenics requires a comprehensive approach that targets all the muscles related to the shoulder. These include:


This muscle group covers the shoulder and is made up of three parts – anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (back). Each part needs to be worked out for balanced shoulder development.


Located at the back of the upper arm, triceps are often engaged in push movements and exercises that target the shoulders.


These muscles at the front of the upper arm help with pulling movements and stabilize the shoulder during certain exercises.


This large muscle extends down the back of the neck and upper spine. It helps control shoulder blade movements.


Located between your shoulder blades, rhomboids play a key role in retracting the scapula, which is crucial for many shoulder exercises.


Your chest muscles are also involved in many shoulder movements, particularly pushing exercises.

To get a bigger upper body with calisthenics, you need a balanced workout routine that targets all these muscles.

shoulder workout calisthenics

Exercises To Include In A Calisthenics Chest And Shoulder Workout

The chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and minor, work closely with the shoulder muscles (deltoids) to perform movements like pushing, pressing, and arm rotation.

See also
Calisthenics Workout App: The Ultimate Bodyweight Training Companion

Strengthening these muscles together ensures balanced development and can reduce the risk of injury (8).


Start in a high plank position, lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, then push back up.


Hoist yourself up on parallel bars, lower your body until your arms are at a 90-degree angle, then push back up.

Pike Push-Ups

Start in a downward dog position, lower your head towards the ground while keeping your hips high, then push back up.

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Exercises To Include In A Chest Tricep Shoulder Workout Calisthenics

The triceps brachii muscle is located in the back of the upper arm and assists the shoulder in reaching and pushing motions. It works in conjunction with the chest and shoulder muscles for coordinated upper body movement(1).

Diamond Push-Ups

Start in a push-up position but with your hands close together so that your thumbs and index fingers form a diamond shape, lower your body, then push back up.

Bench Dips

Sit on a bench, place your hands next to your hips, move your buttocks off the bench, lower your body, and push back up.

Close Grip Push-Ups

Start in a push-up position with your hands closer than shoulder-width apart, lower your body, then push back up.

shoulder workout calisthenics

Exercises To Include In A Calisthenics Back And Shoulder Workout

The back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi, contribute to shoulder stability and posture (12).

See also
Calisthenics for Beginners: Women Edition (Benefits, Exercises and FAQ)

They also assist the deltoids in various shoulder movements, including adduction, extension, and internal rotation.


Hang from a pull-up bar with your palms facing away, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar, then lower back down.

Inverted Rows

Position yourself under a bar, grab it with an overhand grip, pull your chest towards the bar, then lower back down.

Tuck Front Lever Pull-Ups

Hang from a bar, pull your knees to your chest and lean back, then pull yourself up while maintaining the tuck position.

Exercises To Include In A Calisthenics Arm Workout

The muscles in your arms, specifically the biceps and triceps, play a significant role in supporting optimal shoulder function. They assist the shoulder muscles in various movements, including flexion, extension, and rotation (3).


Hang from a bar with your palms facing you, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar, then lower back down.

Tricep Dips

Position your hands shoulder-width apart on a bench, extend your legs out in front, lower your body until your arms are at a 90-degree angle, then push back up.

Commando Pull-Ups

Grab the pull-up bar with one hand in front of the other, pull yourself up while rotating your torso towards the leading arm, then lower back down.

Calisthenics exercises


  • Do Shoulders Like High Reps?

Yes, shoulders can benefit from high reps. High repetitions with lighter weights can help improve muscle endurance and hypertrophy (7). That said, it’s essential to also include low-rep, high-weight exercises for increases in maximal strength and muscle development.

  • Is Shoulder Workout Necessary?

Absolutely. Shoulder workouts are crucial for overall upper body strength and stability. They also play a significant role in daily activities that involve lifting or pushing. Moreover, training the shoulders can help prevent imbalances, improves posture, and reduces the risk of injury.

  • Does Calisthenics Build Shoulders?

Yes, calisthenics can effectively build shoulder strength and size. Exercises like push-ups, dips, and handstand push-ups, when performed with correct form and consistent frequency, can help improve shoulder muscle mass and functionality.

  • How Many Calisthenics Workouts Per Week?

The optimal number can vary depending on your fitness level and goals, but a general recommendation is to perform calisthenics workouts 3-4 times per week (9). This allows for ample recovery time between sessions, which is essential for muscle growth and preventing overtraining.

The Bottom Line

Mastering the basics of shoulder workout calisthenics can set you on a path to improved strength, better posture, and a more balanced physique. With consistency, proper technique, and a focus on all related muscles, you’ll not only see an increase in shoulder size but also experience enhanced overall upper body functionality.


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!


  1. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Shoulder (2022,
  3. Describe the roles of agonists, antagonists and synergists (2023,
  4. Different Shoulder Exercises Affect the Activation of Deltoid Portions in Resistance-Trained Individuals (2020,
  5. Effect of Progressive Calisthenic Push-Up Training On Muscle Strength and Thickness (2018, 
  6. Exercise and Older Patients: Prescribing Guidelines (2006, 
  7. Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum (2021, 
  8. Prevention of shoulder injuries in overhead athletes: a science-based approach (2015, 
  9. Resistance training – health benefits (2021, 
  10. STAY FIT. (2015, 
  11. The 4 most important types of exercise (2022, 
  12. The Stabilizing Function of Superficial Shoulder Muscles Changes Between Single-Plane Elevation and Reaching Tasks (2017, 
  13. Top 5 Exercises to Build Big Shoulders (2023,
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