Subscribe for more content
9 Great Shoulder Exercises with No Equipment
Reading Time: 4 minutes 10 seconds
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. It is responsible for many different muscle actions. These include adduction, abduction, flexion, extension, and external rotation. The main function of the shoulder is to provide range of motion in the arm. Bones such as the scapula, clavicle, and humerus help support all shoulder movement.
There is no shortage of shoulder exercises. Though not having gym equipment still becomes an obstacle for clients. Some clients use this as an excuse to not workout. Fortunately, you do not need equipment to build strength and muscle. Try implementing bodyweight training into your client’s workout program. Learn how these shoulder bodyweight workouts can help clients achieve their goals.
Shoulder Muscle Anatomy
Before diving into a bodyweight program, you must know the shoulder anatomy. The shoulders consist of many muscle groups, but three main muscles:
- Anterior deltoid
- Medial deltoid
- Posterior deltoid
Due to the location of each muscle, they are sometimes referred to with different names. The anterior deltoid is often referred to as the front deltoid. The medial deltoid is called the side or lateral deltoid. The posterior deltoid is often called the rear deltoid. These terms are used interchangeably. The names are derived from the origin of each muscle.
The anterior delts are located on the front part of the upper arm. They assist in arm flexion and internal rotation. The medial delts are located on the outside of the upper arm. These help with overhead pressing and adduction. Lastly, the posterior delts are found on the back of the upper arm. They help the arm extend and laterally rotate.
These are the primary muscles involved in shoulder strength and power. Especially when the main goal is to improve their physique and body composition. It is important to teach clients the role that the shoulders play in everyday life. All arm movement incorporates the shoulders in some aspect.
Protecting the shoulder joint with strength exercises is critical to overall health and fitness. Learn more about strengthening the rotator cuff in this ISSA blog.
Top Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises
Bodyweight training is effective and can be implemented into any workout program. No equipment is required for this shoulder workout, and exercises can be performed anywhere. Clients who might travel for work or are unable to make it to the gym will benefit from these exercises. Some of these exercises are for more experienced clients, so be sure to regress or progress accordingly.
Start in a push-up position with your arms straight and hands shoulder-width apart. Lift your hips in the air and create an upside-down V shape. From here bend your elbows and lower the top of your head to the ground. Just as you would perform a push-up. Push your body back up until your arms are straight. If this is easy for you, you can try handstand push-ups.
Begin this shoulder exercise by standing in front of a wall. Kick your feet up and achieve a handstand position against the wall. Maintain a tight core and squeeze your glutes to maintain position. Then, lower yourself down towards the ground. Once you are as close as you can get to the ground, push back up. Focus on keeping your legs straight and core muscles engaged. If this is too challenging for you, start with wall walks.
For wall walks, you will start in the same position as the handstand push-up. Your body will be up against the wall. Begin by walking your hands away from the wall. At the same time allow your feet to walk down the wall. Once you are in a push-up position, walk your feet back up the wall. Walk up until you are flat against the wall in a handstand position.
Incline or decline push-ups provide an alternative to being in a vertical or upside-down position. For incline push-ups, start in a plank position with hands shoulder-width apart on a bench. Lower your chest down to the bench and push back up. For decline push-ups, start in a plank position with hands shoulder-width apart. This time have your feet elevated on the bench or box. Lower your chest down to the ground and push back up.
Start in a push-up position with hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms fully extended with your back flat and toes on the ground. Bring one hand up off the ground and tap the opposite shoulder. Rotate back and forth tapping both arms. When performing this exercise keep the core tight and avoid excessive movement at the hips.
A bear crawl is a bodyweight exercise that targets shoulder strength and mobility. Start in an all-fours position and lift your knees off the ground. Maintain a flat back and keep arms shoulder-width apart. Move one hand forward and follow with the opposite foot. Alternate sides, stay low to the ground, and repeat the movement for distance.
Achieve a push-up position with feet hip-width apart. Push your body back towards your heels. Allow your legs to bend and sit your glutes on your heels. The end position should mimic a child's pose. Though keep your legs off the ground. Return to the starting position. Keep your arms straight throughout the entire motion.
Start in a plank position on your elbows. Place one palm down and begin pushing the body up off the ground. Follow with the other hand and arm pressing the body up to a position push-up. Once in a push-up position, slowly lower the body back down to the elbows, one arm at a time.
Superman (I, Y, & T)
For the superman exercise, lie flat on the ground in a prone position. Keep your arms extended and out to the side. Start by raising your arms up in front of the body, above the head, to create an “I” shape with both arms. Bring them back to the starting position. Then, raise your arms up and out to the side of the head, creating a “Y” letter shape. After returning to the starting position, finish by raising your arms to the side creating a “T” shape.
Passionate about exercise and fitness and ready to learn more? Take your expertise to the next level with ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer course. Learn the science behind exercise and how to build an effective workout program—for your own knowledge or to help other’s reach their fitness and wellness goals. Get started today!
Certified Personal Trainer
The Certified Fitness Trainer program is designed to equip graduates with the practical day-to-day skills necessary, as well as the theoretical knowledge needed to excel as a personal trainer serving the general public. Along with the necessary exercise science foundation, the distance education program covers client assessment, program design, basic nutrition, and sports medicine along with business and marketing skills.