Best Shoulder Strength Exercises

arms up sunrise


If you have read the shoulder stretching and massaging blog here, its time to start strengthening your muscles so they can support your shoulder joints better.  Below you will find four exercises that are excellent for strengthening your shoulders.



Blade Squeeze

While standing straight, bend your elbows without lifting your shoulders up and you’re your elbows behind your body and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this for 8 to 10 seconds and repeat two to three times. You can also perform this exercise while lying on the ground.



Scapular Protraction and Retraction

In addition to blade squeeze, you can add weight by performing a similar move against a wall or while laying down holding weights. To perform it against a wall, stand with your feet about 1 – 1.5 feet from a wall, keep your shoulders down and arms out with hands flat against the wall. Let your chest fall in towards the wall while keeping your arms straight. Next push your shoulder blades back while keeping your arms straight. This is a very small movement that helps with both strength and range of motion.


You can also perform this exercise on a bench (and with light weights once you progress). Lie face down on a bench with arms at your sides. Now bend your elbows so your upper arms are parallel to your body and your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together for 3 seconds and then return your arms to the starting position. Repeat this sequence 10 times and do 2-3 sets.



T’s and Y’s

While lying with your back straight and flat or at a 45° angle (on a bench or ball), activate your core by bringing your belly button inward toward your back. To create a T, pull your shoulder blades in toward your spine and extend your arms out (like a T) to your sides and up with thumbs pointing towards the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and then lower them. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.


To perform the Y, lift both arms straight up in front of your body by pulling your shoulder blades together and downward with back in a neutral position and thumbs up toward the ceiling. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.



External rotation

While sitting on a bench with right your leg propped up, right elbow on your right knee and left leg on the ground, place a small weight in your right hand. Now slowly rotate your arm so your hand falls down toward the bench. Rotate your hand back up towards the ceiling. Focus on bringing your arm down slowly and then back up faster.