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Strong shoulders make strong bodies. Not only do well-built shoulders look good, but they also form an integral part of a well-rounded exercise technique, helping to improve form and posture.

Stronger shoulders will also provide protection for your shoulder joints, helping to strengthen the muscles and reduce your risk of injury.

When it comes to building up the shoulders, we’re focussing on the deltoid muscles (commonly referred to as “delts”). These are made up of three sets of muscle fibres, or “heads”: anterior (front), lateral (middle), and posterior (rear).

Many people tend to place a lot of focus on the anterior deltoids when training, but for building greater stability and better posture it’s important to work the posterior deltoids too. With this in mind, we’ve tried to include a well-rounded selection so you can target all parts of the shoulder.

So let’s take a look at 5 great exercises for building and strengthening those shoulders!

Push press

Good for: full body, explosiveness.  

The push press develops upper-body strength, targets the abs, and conditions your rotator cuffs.

Strictly speaking this one gives more of a full-body workout. But it does allow you to handle more weight than most other shoulder exercises. 

Dumbbell incline row

Good for: posterior deltoids, traps, back.

Side lateral raise

Good for: lateral and anterior deltoids.

For this one you just need a pair of light dumbbells and the ability to abduct your arms (move your arms up and away until they form a T-shape).

Side lateral raises specifically target the deltoid muscles, so they’re an excellent choice for isolated shoulder workouts.

Overhead squat

Good for: general shoulder strength and stability, core, mobility.

The overhead squat is an excellent mobility-training exercise, and can help to relieve tight pectorals and inflexible hips and knees. It’s also great for anyone with a weak core.

Standing overhead press (Military Press)

Good for: general shoulder strength.

Simple but incredibly effective as a pure strength-building exercise. The standing overhead press is considered by many to be a foundational upper-body and core weight exercise.

Arnold Press

Good for: anterior deltoids.

A twist on the overhead press developed by none other than 7-time Mr. Olympia title holder himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Need we say more?

Keep lifting

For more weight-based inspiration, you can read up on the many benefits of weightlifting here. Or if you’d like to put down the dumbbells for a while and increase your bodyweight exercise repertoire, take a look at these 9 variations on the classic push-up.