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:
3D shoulders require a balance between these three shoulder muscles. Luckily, bodyweight shoulder exercises will help you build your practical fitness.
Before we get started, here’s a quick tip: Investing in a paid calisthenics course can easily 10X your fitness progression, without having to leave your own house. These bodyweight exercises are legit and are a great way to get you fit.
Whether your goal is to build muscle or to learn new skills, these courses have got you covered:
40 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises
1. Pike Push-Up
Pike push-ups and variations are great beginner shoulder exercises.
Use pike push-ups to build your strength so you can advance to more difficult exercises, like handstand push-ups. It’s basically the regular push up position, but with your butt raised in the air. Push-ups meet downward dog.
2. Elevated Pike Push-Up
The elevated pike push-up takes you one step closer to emulating the handstand push-up. Those shoulder blades will get a workout with this one.
3. Plank To Alternate Pike
Starting position in your plank and then jumping to your pike position and then back to plank. This is a great exercise for strong shoulders.
4. Pike Crunch
The Pike Crunch adds a bit more core work to the shoulder exercise. We like core work!
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
This push-up variation is excellent for the shoulder blades as you round your back. The stretch is amazing as well. Bend your elbows to come down into your push-up before coming back up to your plank push-up position. One rep done!
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
Place your hands on the floor in your regular push-up starting position with your hands shoulder width apart. Press your butt up into the air and then come back to your push-up position. One of the best bodyweight exercises for your whole body, but especially the upper body and shoulders.
11. Handstand Push-Up
This is probably the best bodyweight shoulder exercise! But it’s a beast to learn.
Since you’re 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. Instead of pushing yourself back up to the starting position, you bend your elbows and just slowly work your way down. This is hard, but it will train those shoulders so that you can get that handstand push-up in no time.
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. Another great exercise for the shoulders as you are working to stabilize your body in the hold.
15. Wall Push-Up Walkup
This wall push-up walkup combines core, chest, and shoulder strength into one brutal exercise.
Not only is this a great shoulder workout, but the wall walkout helps you learn how to get into a handstand push-up position.
17. Handstand Wall Walks
18. Shoulder Tap
Plank position and lift one hand up to tap the opposite shoulder and then put it back down on the floor. Reverse everything on the other side. It’s harder than you think and takes a lot of stability.
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 cuff.
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 especially those shoulders.
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 rear deltoids.
30. Single-Arm Plank
The single-arm plank requires you to stabilize your body through your shoulders. While you are in the regular plank position, lift one arm off the ground.
It cuts out the resting hold of the traditional plank.
31. Side Plank
Starting position for the side plank is on your side with one elbow on the floor. Lift your body up stabilizing everything with your shoulder. Make sure you keep your elbow under your shoulder.
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!
Bodyweight tactics for the experienced.
The bodyweight 2.0 is the sequel to the reader favorite Bodyweight 1.0. It adds a bit of difficulty, though it can be done by beginners by adjusting loads and reps.
- Skill level: Intermediate
- 4-week program, 4 workouts each week
- Workouts vary in length, up to 45 minutes
- No equipment required, but a yoga or exercise mat, towel, and water bottle are helpful.
- Free Bonus: Intro to Nutrition and Healthy Eating
- Links to videos, detailing each exercise
- Printable PDF workout calendar
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 workout:
Try these exercises for yourself and see what you like.