Shoulder exercises: benefits and how to do them

Esercizi per la spalla

Achieving strong and well-defined shoulders is one of the first goals you try to achieve with training, but it is not just an aesthetic reason.

In fact, the shoulders (or deltoids) are a fundamental muscle and are involved every time we use the upper part of our body such as, for example, when we take a weight from the ground or lift it above us to store it on top of the wardrobe.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of training them and some shoulder exercises.


First of all, training your shoulders will reduce the chance of injury.

In many sports, in fact, the shoulder is an essential muscle, just think of swimming, tennis or basketball but there are many others.

Having strong and healthy shoulders will allow you not only to perform better and go further and further in these activities, but also to avoid getting hurt and therefore being forced to rest.

In addition, you will improve your posture.

Every day, due to our bad habits, the spine is curved and this in the long run can have serious consequences such as back pain, weakness in the arms or neck pain.

By strengthening your shoulders, you will get used to carrying them back and thus staying with a correct posture throughout the day, improving your life day by day.

Speaking of neck pain, you should know that training your shoulders will help you a lot in this aspect.

In fact, keeping the shoulders and posture forward all day leads to gradually weakening the first vertebrae of the spine and, as a result, you begin to suffer from neck pain.

By training your shoulders you will not eliminate this problem but you will certainly reduce it by obtaining benefits in the medium to long term.

Finally, you will have a more toned and defined appearance. You can’t train your biceps or glutes but have weak shoulders. The goal should be to have a balanced body.

Female athlete with sun circles lifting two dumbbells, one on each arm. In the background, Xenios equipment.

Muscles to engage

When we talk about the shoulder we are talking about the deltoid muscle which is made up of 3 muscle bundles: the anterior, lateral and posterior deltoid.

To strengthen the shoulder structure in a complete and above all correct way, it is necessary to focus on all 3 muscle bundles.

If you want to train them at the same time, we recommend that you opt for multi-joint exercises such as the military press.

If, on the other hand, you prefer to focus on one muscle bundle at a time, you can train the anterior deltoid by including isolation exercises such as, for example, frontal raises with dumbbells or the barbell in the card.

The lateral deltoid, on the other hand, strengthens it by moving the arm parallel to the torso as in lateral raises.

Finally, for the posterior deltoid you can use extensions to the high standing cables or transverse abductions to the bass cable

These are just a few examples: you can find many other shoulder exercises. Always seek the opinion of an expert such as your personal trainer to create a balanced board and not try too hard.

Let’s now take a closer look at the military press and some exercises you can do to train your shoulders with the kettlebell.

Military press: a great exercise for the shoulder

The military press is a multi-joint exercise that trains the entire upper body involving both the deltoid and the scapula, as well as the chest and triceps and is considered a complement to the bench press.

It is not an exercise for beginners, in fact, you have to pay close attention to how you perform it since it involves several joints.

If done incorrectly, not only will it not train your muscles but could cause you injuries. So focus on learning the movement in the correct way by first using light loads and then gradually increasing the weight.

So let’s see how to do the military press well.

How to perform the military press

Usually this exercise is done with the barbell, later we will also see a variant but for now we understand the movement.

The starting position is with your legs slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. You have to hold the barbell with the so-called supine grip, i.e. with the palms facing forward, at a wider width than that of the shoulders.

Begin the movement by carefully bringing the barbell towards your collarbones and achieve stability in your torso.

Shoulder exercises

Once you feel firm, push the barbell up above your head with your shoulders, fully extending your arms and locking your elbows when you reach the highest point of movement.

To lift the barbell, remember to pull your head back slightly and thus avoid hitting your chin, it’s not a good feeling.

Finally, slowly bring the barbell back to the starting position and begin with the second repetition.

Tips and mistakes to avoid

The first tip is to start only with the barbell to learn the movement well and only after you have become familiar with the exercise, start adding weights.

Then remember to never keep your grip too wide because you risk endangering your shoulders and always extend your elbows at the end of the concentric phase to stabilize the weight.

One last tip is to pay attention to the width of your feet.

In fact, if you keep your feet too wide, narrow or even crooked, you will not be able to apply maximum force during the exercise, as well as being unstable.

Keep these tips in mind.

Military press with kettlebell

If you want to vary your movement or you only have a kettlebell and not a barbell at home, you can do this version of the military press.

First of all, in this movement with the kettlebell you will have a more natural wrist position that will allow you to push more in the exercise and stimulate the muscles in a different way, as well as become stronger in the overhead thrusts.

If you’re used to using the barbell all the time, this exercise will help you compensate for any disparities since you’ll be working with one arm at a time.

Also remember that if you perform a mono-breech movement (in which you work with only one arm instead of two) you will need a higher core compactness.

In short, the military press with kettlebell is an excellent variant to train in a different and more concentrated way.

If you want to find out how best to do it, we recommend watching this video.

Let’s now take a look at some other exercises that you can use to train your shoulders with the kettlebell.

Shoulder exercises with the kettlebell

Kettlebell exercises

There are many kettlebell exercises that are great for strengthening your deltoids.

Before starting, however, we want to advise you to start with light kettlebells and learn how to perform the movement in the correct world and only then move on to heavier kettlebells.

Also, always be careful with the grip.

It’s a snap to take this weight the wrong way and risk getting hurt. Before starting the movement, check that the grip is firm and correct, you must not feel it unnatural or uncomfortable.

Coming back to us, we have already seen an exercise to train the shoulders with the kettlebell and that is the military press, but in addition to this there are many others such as the kettlebell clean and jerk.

Kettlebell clean and jerk

The kettlebell clean and jerk is a complete movement that involves the whole body.

It is an exercise that is done with one hand and you start with your feet shoulder-width apart, your legs slightly bent and the kettlebell on the ground between your feet.

In the clean phase, lift the weight by pushing with your feet on the ground and slowly raising your torso until the kettlebell is resting on your forearm.

From here begins the second phase, that of the jerk, in which you bend your knees and push bringing the kettlebell upwards above your head while extending your arm.

From this position, you then return the weight to the starting position and start again.

In this video you can see the exercise and understand how to perform it.

Remember to maintain a correct posture throughout the movement and to breathe, it is very important.

A final exercise that we recommend to train the deltoids with the kettlebell is that of…

Chin pulls with kettlebells

Chin pulls, also called vertical rows, are a great exercise to train both the shoulders and the trapezius.

It is often a not recommended exercise because it “hurts the shoulders” when it is exactly the opposite, if it is obviously done in the correct way.

The starting position is upright with the feet shoulder-width apart. You need to grip the kettlebell with both hands and the grip prone.

At this point, start the movement by bringing your elbows upwards as you bend them over shoulder height, thus bringing the weight to your chin.

Pause for a short time and then return to the starting position with your arms stretched out slowly and precisely, and repeat the exercise until you finish the repetitions.

As in all exercises, breathing is also important in chin pulls.

You have to inhale, keep your chest open, and then start the movement. Once you return to the starting position, exhale.

Another common mistake is to arch your back. Remember to hold a correct position throughout the movement and thus avoid injury.

The kettlebell military press, the clean and jerk kettlebell, and kettlebell chest pulls are just a few of the many shoulder exercises you can do using this weight. You can also decide to use two of them and perform lateral raises, for example, it is one of the best movements for the shoulder with kettelbells.


We have come to the end of this article on training for deltoids where we have seen its benefits and some exercises for the shoulders.

Always maintain a correct posture and train your whole body to have a healthy and balanced figure.

We hope this short guide has been helpful to you and we wish you a good workout !



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