21 Best Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises for Massive Delts

Fully developed, rounded shoulders are among the most impressive of all body parts. A massive set of deltoids give the appearance of width and add to the V-taper that is the epitome of male strength and vitality. For most guys, getting big shoulders means hitting the weights down at the local gym. Those of us who prefer using our own bodyweight, though, have plenty of delt destroying shoulder exercises of our own. Here are the best bodyweight shoulder exercises.

6 Beginner Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

Exercise #1: Arm Circles

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Medial deltoids
  • Secondary: Rhomboids

Execution method:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Straighten your arms and lift them to shoulder height so they are parallel with the floor.
  • Without bending your elbows, rotate from the shoulders to perform slow and controlled rolls.
  • Perform a set number of arm circles in one direction and then go in the opposite direction.

Exercise #2: Assisted Handstand Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Trapezius

Execution method:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your palms on the floor about three feet in front of your feet without bending your knees. Your legs and torso should now form a V-shape.
  • Bend your knees to bring your head down to the floor between your arms.
  • Exhale as you push back up. Make sure that your tailbone is pointing straight up in the air and the hands remain shoulder width apart.

Exercise #3: Crab Bridge

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Rear deltoids
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume a reverse plank position with knees bent and palms on the floor pointing forward.
  • Push your belly up into the air as you hold the crab bridge position.
  • Breathe naturally as you push down strong with your shoulders.

Exercise #4: Front & Lateral Raises

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Side deltoids

Execution method:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your arms at your sides and fists clenched.
  • Pivoting from the elbow, bring your arms out to the sides. Do not bend your elbows. Exhale as you lift your arms.
  • This time, lift your arms directly to the front, feeling for the burn in the front delts in the top position.

Exercise #5: Mountain Climbers

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Core

Execution method:

  • Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • With a tight core and your butt down, step one leg forward.
  • Jump and switch to alternate bringing each leg up, so that the elbow comes to the knee. Drive the knee up strongly each time to touch the elbow.

Exercise #6: Punches

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Pectorals

Execution method:

  • Stand at shoulder width with your arms bent up and closed fists facing toward you.
  • Alternately turn your fist out and punch out vigorously. Keep your elbows down.
  • Bring the fist back and around to face back to your chin.
  • Repeat with the other arm. Do not hyperextend your arm. Pull back before the arm is fully extended. Go for speed, punching continually for 30-60 seconds.

6 Intermediate Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

Exercise #7: Advanced Table

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Rear deltoids
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume a reverse plank position with knees bent and palms on the floor pointing backward. Lean back to put the focus on your delts and triceps.
  • Push your belly up into the air as you hold the crab bridge position.
  • Breathe naturally as you push down strong with your shoulders.

Exercise #8: Beast Bear Crawl

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Trapezius

Execution method:

  • Assume a plank position with one knee forward.
  • Keeping the butt down step forward with hands and feet. Keep your knees off the ground at all times.
  • Move in multiple directions to hit the target muscles from varying angles. Keep you core tight and breathe evenly throughout the movement.

Exercise #9: Crab Reach

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Rear deltoids
  • Secondary: Core

Execution method:

  • Assume a reverse plank position with your palms down and facing back.
  • Reach your left arm and across the body, stretching your arm as far as your can while keeping both feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Bring the arms back, lowering the tailbone down, but not touching the floor.
  • Reach up and across with the right arm.

Exercise #10: Elevated Hand Walk

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Rear deltoids
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume a plank position in front of a chair. Your fingers should be only about four inches from the chair legs.
  • Keeping your core tight, step up onto the chair with one hand, then follow through with the other hand so that you are in a plank position on the chair.
  • Reverse the motion to return to the start position. Exhale as you are pushing up.

Exercise #11: Elevated Handstand Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Side deltoids

Execution method:

  • Put your feet up on a chair, with your palms on the floor about three feet in front of the chair. Your body will be in a V-position.
  • Bend your elbows to bring your head straight down. Your upper body should be completely in line from your head to your butt.

Exercise #12: Handstand Hold

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Trapezius

Execution method:

  • Position yourself about six inches away from a wall on your hands and knees.
  • Walk your legs up the wall to assume a handstand position with feet together.
  • Keeping your core tight, hold for 30-60 seconds

4 Advanced Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises

Exercise #13: Burpee Rotation

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Rear deltoids
  • Secondary: Pectorals

Execution method:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Squat down to place the palms on the floor.
  • Kick back to a top push-up position.
  • Rather than doing a push-up, rotate your whole body to the left, kicking the right leg out straight. Lift the left arm directly over head.
  • Exhale as you come back, then immediately jump forward to bring your feet back to the start position.
  • Jump up, reaching for the sky and then back to the start position. Absorb the momentum as you come down from the jump. Try to develop a rhythm to the movement.

Exercise #14: Cage Windmill

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Rear deltoids
  • Secondary: Abdominals

Execution method:

  • Get into a reverse plank position with your knees bent up. Your palms should be resting on the ground with fingers pointing back.
  • Lean to one side, lifting a hand up into the air as you twist your torso across.
  • Exhale as you jump to the other arm. Land soft, absorbing with the bent elbow.

Exercise #15: Crow Stand

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Trapezius

Execution method:

  • Position yourself on the floor with your palms on the ground about two feet in front of your feet. Your elbows should be on the outsides of your shoulders.
  • Lean the lower body in as you straighten your arms to just short of full extension. Lift up into the pose, pushing into your body with your knees.
  • Hold the top position, remembering to breathe naturally. Point your toes up and balance the weight from your hands, fingertips and palms.
  • Hold for as long as you can, keeping the elbows up into the armpits.

Exercise #16: Superman Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Front deltoids
  • Secondary: Trapezius

Execution method:

  • Assume the start position of a regular push-up, but place your hands directly in front of you, with your palms spread out.
  • Exhale as you push into a top push-up position.
  • Lower back down, keeping your core tight and back straight.

5 Gym Replacement Exercises

When you walk into the gym to do a shoulder workout, there are some old standbys that you’ll probably gravitate to in order to build up your delts. Yet every single one of them has got a bodyweight alternative. Let’s do a breakdown of how you get the same effect exercise by exercise without leaving your front gate.

Exercise #17: Handstand Push-Up (Bodyweight Alternative to 'Dumbbell / Barbell Shoulder Press')

Handstand push-ups are an extremely challenging exercise that will build power and add mass to your shoulders. The more you weigh, the more you have to push on this move.

Reebok CrossFit ONE Movement Demo "Handstand Push-Up"

Exercise #18: Wall Walk Push-Up

If you get to the stage where handstand push-ups are no longer a challenge for you, you can make them more intense with the following variation.

Execution method:

  • From the hand stand push-up position, walk your hands out so that you are in a flat plank position with your feet against the wall, then do a push-up.
  • Now walk your hands back so that you are once again in a vertical position, and do another push-up. That is one rep!

Check this video to see how to wall walk:​

Reebok CrossFit ONE Movement Demo "Wall Walk"

Exercise #19: Bodyweight Side Lateral (Bodyweight Alternative to 'Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise')

This is a great move to isolate and develop the medial head of your deltoids. The motion that is occurring at the joint on this move is exactly the same as when you are doing a side raise with dumbbells.

In the gym version of this movement, your trunk remains fixed and you are moving your arm. With the bodyweight version, it is the arm that is fixed while the trunk moves. The end result of both versions is that your shoulder is in an abducted position.

Execution method:

  • Lie on the floor facedown in a plank position. Place your left forearm on the floor for support with your right arm behind your back. Your legs should be spread to provide support.
  • Rotate at the shoulder joint to twist your torso to the right and up. The only pivot should be the pivot at the shoulder joint. Return to the start position. Repeat on the other side.

Exercise #20: Reverse Iron Cross Push-Up (Bodyweight Alternative to 'Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise')

This is a fantastic move that you can do anywhere to target the rear delts.

Execution method:

  • Lie face up on the floor with your arms outstretched. Your knees should be bent.
  • Now push into the floor with your forearms to bring your torso off the floor. Lower and repeat.

Exercise #21: Pike Circles (Bodyweight Alternative to 'Shoulder Tap Presses')

Shoulder tap presses are a highly functional move that can be done in the gym with a single dumbbell or a kettlebell. It involves pressing above your head from shoulder to shoulder. This provides the strength to move in an asymmetrical direction.

Execution method:

  • Position yourself with your feet against a wall and your body in a V-shape. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Now lower your head down toward your right hand then directly across to your left hand. Keep moving in a circular motion, first in a clockwise and then an anti-clockwise direction.

Conclusion

You don’t need to pump iron to develop a pair of amazing shoulders. Your body provides you with all the resistance you’ll ever need to build great delts. Some of the exercises require a bit of practice to get into the groove of. The pay-off, though, is well worth that effort.

A lot of bodyweight shoulder exercises require you to push your entire bodyweight. This provides a very intense overload that will build strength and mass faster than your old gym-based weight training program.

Besides, training with your bodyweight allows you to work your shoulders anywhere, anytime.

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