5 Best Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises
Strong and big shoulders are necessary for almost all Calisthenics exercises. We noticed that a lot of you asked how to get stronger and bigger shoulders. That’s why we decided to share our 5 best bodyweight shoulder exercises for strength and mass in this blog and tutorial video below. We created several exercises which stimulate the same kind of movements that you might know from the gym, but we are just going to use our own bodyweight to get stronger and bigger shoulders.
The shoulder consists of 3 different components; the front delt, side delts, and rear delts. We are going to hit each of these muscle groups during these bodyweight shoulder exercises. To get stronger and bigger shoulders, it is really important that you work in a good repetition range. So, you want to work between 8 to 15 repetitions. If you can do an exercise for example for 15 repetitions, then you can move on to the next exercise. It’s also important that you train your shoulders at least two times per week to get the best training results. Are you ready to get bigger and stronger shoulders? Let’s get started with the 5 best bodyweight shoulder exercises!
5 best bodyweight shoulder exercises
Exercise 1 – Wall Handstand Push-Ups
The first bodyweight shoulder exercise is the handstand push-up. It’s really important that you know that there are basically two ways to do the handstand push-up and the pike push-up. The first way is with your hands forward, which focuses more on the front delts. The second way is to press with your hands next to you, which you may know from the overhead press in the gym, which focuses more on the side delts. You can do the exercise against the wall, or do a regression like a normal handstand push-up or pike handstand push-up.
It’s really important that you place your hands pretty wide and that you move your head in between your hands. Keep your body as straight as possible. In our opinion, this is the best exercise for building strong shoulders. Aim for 10 repetitions.
”Can you do at least 10 repetitions? Move on to the next exercise!”
Exercise 2 – Elevated Pike Push-Ups
The next bodyweight shoulder exercise is the other variant of the wall handstand push-ups. The elevated pike push-ups are a little bit harder than the wall handstand push-ups and focus more on the front delts. With this exercise we recommend using parallettes, which gives you less stress on your wrists, especially when leaning forward with this bodyweight shoulder exercise. If this one is too hard, you can also do the regular pike stand.
Make sure that you move forward. It is really important that you bring your head forward until the point where you have a triangle, that’s exactly what you need with the handstand push-ups as well. Put your feet on an elevated surface and keep your legs straight. Make sure to get a full range of motion and keep your arms completely straight when you go up. Go down all the way with your head towards the floor. Aim for 8 repetitions.
Exercise 3 – Rear Delt Fly
This exercise is focused on the side and rear delts, the backside of your shoulders. For this bodyweight shoulder exercise, we are going to use rings. You might remember this exercise from the gym. Don’t you have access to a Calisthenics park with rings or would you like to train at home? Check our Calisthenics Home Workout Plan and start from home.
- Grab the rings and hang them pretty low;
- grab the rings until they reach your waistline, keep your arms straight;
- put your chest forward and retract your scapula;
- keep straight arms and move your arms to the side;
- aim for 12 repetitions.
If you want to make this exercise easier, you can take a step back. If you want to make it harder, you just walk a little bit forward. this exercise is also really good to work on your straight arm strength, for example for the Backlever and the Planche.
Exercise 4 – Front Raise
For this exercise, we use the rings again. This time, you grab the rings with your body turned to the other side, so with your back towards the rings.
- Move forward and bring the rings behind you;
- make sure you tilt your pelvis, so hips forward;
- activate your glutes and walk a little bit forward;
- stand on your toes and from here, bring the rings towards your waistline with straight arms;
- do 12 repetitions.
If you want to make the exercise a little bit easier, you can take a little step back. It is really important to keep your shoulders low and to focus on a straight arm during the whole exercise. This exercise is also really good for the backlever, because you are exactly in the same position as the backlever. Let’s move on to the last exercise!
”It doesn’t get easier. You just get stronger!”
Exercise 5 – Handstand Hold
Until now we only did dynamic exercises. We end the workout with a static and isometric hold to really burn the shoulders. With this exercise, you create more stabilization to work on the tiny muscles in your shoulders. With Isometric holds, 2 seconds equals 1 repetition. To build muscle mass we want to be in a repetition range between 8 to 15 repetitions, so that would be at least 15 to 30 seconds in the isometric hold.
During the handstand hold, make sure to keep straight arms, also when you do it on the wall. Really press your scapula away and don’t bend your arms. If you can’t do this you can do the wall handstand for 30 seconds. If you also can’t do this yet, you can do a pike stand on the floor. For longer handstand holds use parallettes to avoid pains! Try to do this at least 2 times a week for optimal training results.