Barbell Shoulder Exercises

Your shoulders are made up of three main muscles: your anterior or front deltoid, your medial or middle deltoid and your rear or posterior deltoid. The deltoid muscles form your natural shoulder pads around the head of your humorous bone. There are a wide variety of shoulder exercises you can perform using dumbbells, cables and barbells but some basic exercises using barbells will strengthen and condition your shoulders.

Barbell Shoulder Press

This exercise can be performed standing or, if you prefer to work out with back support, sitting on an exercise bench. Hold the bar at shoulder level with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip and your palms facing forwards. Your elbows should be directly below your hands. Push the barbell directly over your head until your elbows are just short of full extension. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position and repeat.

Upright Row

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp a barbell with an overhand grip. Your hands should be around 6 inches apart. Keeping your upper body upright and your shoulders back, pull the barbell up the front of your body until the bar is beneath your chin and your elbows are above the height of your shoulders. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position and repeat. Some people find this exercise to be hard on the shoulders. If you feel any discomfort, discontinue this exercise.

Bent Over Wide Grip Row

To work the muscles on the rear of your shoulders, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a barbell in your hands with a wide, shoulder-width grip. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward at the hips until your upper body is bent forward to around 80 degrees. Make sure your lower back doesn’t round. Leading with your elbows, pull the barbell into your chest. Hold the bar to your chest for one to two seconds before slowly lowering it back to arms’ length and repeating. When performing this exercise, endeavor to keep your wrists straight.

Cuban Press

Combining two exercises into one, the Cuban press was a favorite of Cuban weight lifters in the 1960s and 1970s. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp a barbell with an overhand grip. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your torso upright, pull the barbell up to chest level; your elbows should be directly over your hands. Rotate the barbell over so that it is now level with your head and your hands are over your elbows. Press the bar above your head. Return the barbell by lowering the bar to head height, rotating the bar so that your hands are below your elbows and finally lowering the bar back in front of your hips. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

About this Author

Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. Also a lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a major contributor for Ultra-FIT magazine and has been involved in fitness for 22 years. Other than a five-year service in the Royal Marines, Dale has always worked in health and fitness and never intends leaving.