Are you looking for an effective way to build and strengthen your shoulders? Calisthenics offers a great range of shoulder exercises perfect for all fitness levels, enabling you to focus on muscle development by using your body weight.
Not sure where to start? We have put together the best calisthenics shoulder workout that combines simple but challenging moves that will make a big impact on your physique. Read on and find out how you can train smarter for better results!
The shoulder is a complex joint made up of several muscles, tendons, and ligaments that work together to provide stability and mobility. The main muscles involved in shoulder movement include the deltoids (anterior, middle, and posterior), rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis), and the trapezius.
Posterior Deltoids (Rear Delts) – These muscles are located at the back of the shoulder and are responsible for pulling your arms towards the body, such as during rows or pull-ups.
Anterior Deltoids (Front Delts) – Located at the front of the shoulder, these muscles can be targeted with pushing movements or movements in the sagittal plane.
Middle Deltoids (Middle Delts) – These muscles are located in the middle of the shoulder and can be targeted by lateral movements, such as in lateral raises.
Rotator Cuff Muscles – These smaller muscles are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint and helping with rotational movements, making them important for exercises like pull-ups, dips, and handstands.
Trapezius – This large muscle spans from the back of the neck to the middle of the back and helps with shoulder movement in all directions.
Can you build shoulder muscles with calisthenics?
Yes, you can definitely build strong and defined shoulder muscles with calisthenics exercises. By targeting the different muscles of the shoulder complex through a variety of movements, you can achieve well-rounded and balanced strength in your shoulders.
Benefits of a Calisthenics Shoulder Workout
Full Range of Motion
Low Cost and Convenience
Calisthenics shoulder workouts offer numerous benefits for building strong and defined shoulders. From improving flexibility and mobility to preventing injuries, calisthenics exercises target all the muscles of the shoulder complex to provide well-rounded strength.
Not only are these workouts versatile and cost-effective, but they also promote functional strength by engaging multiple muscle groups at once.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete, there are endless variations and progressions of calisthenics exercises for the shoulders to continuously challenge your muscles.
Shoulder Calisthenics Exercises
Begin in a plank position with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Keep your core engaged and your body in a straight line from head to heels
Lower your chest towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides
Push through your palms and return to the starting position
Make sure to keep your neck and spine in a neutral position throughout the movement
Easy Variation: Knee push-ups (Push-ups with your knees planted on the floor instead of your feet)
Advanced Variation: Decline push-ups (Push-ups with your feet on an elevated surface)
Push-ups are an essential calisthenics exercise and are great for building strong and defined shoulders. They target multiple muscles in the shoulder complex, including the chest, anterior deltoids (front delts), and triceps.
Additionally, push-ups promote functional strength by engaging stabilizing muscles in the core and upper back, improving overall shoulder stability and preventing injuries.
Begin by placing your hands on parallel bars or sturdy chairs, with your arms straight and feet off the ground
Lower your body by bending at the elbows, keeping them close to your sides
Once your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, push through your palms to return to the starting position
Keep your core engaged and avoid letting your shoulders shrug up towards your ears
Modify the exercise by doing dips on a bench or with assistance from a resistance band
Easy Variation: Bench Dips (Dips with your feet planted in front of you on the floor, knees bent or extended)
Advanced Variation: Weighted Dips (Dips with extra weight like a weighted vest or weight belt)
Dips are an effective pushing exercise for targeting the triceps, chest, and front shoulder muscles. It’s important to focus on proper form, avoiding any swinging or excessive strain on the shoulders. You can also vary the width of your hand placement to target different areas of your arms.
Just like with push-ups, it’s important to keep your core engaged and maintain control throughout the movement to maximize results and prevent injury.
Begin in a downward-facing dog position, with your hands and feet on the ground and hips high in the air
Slowly lower your head towards the floor, bending at the elbows and keeping them close to your sides
Push through your palms to return to the starting position, focusing on engaging your shoulders and upper back muscles
Easy Variation: Incline Pike Push-ups (Instead of placing your hands on the floor, place them on a chair or stable elevated surface)
Advanced Variation: Decline Pike Push-ups (Place your feet on an elevated surface to increase the intensity of the exercise)
Similar to an overhead press, pike push-ups are an excellent bodyweight exercise for targeting the shoulders, upper back, and core muscles. They can also help improve balance and stability in the arms.
To avoid strain on the neck, make sure to keep your head in line with your spine throughout the movement.
Start in a standard push-up position with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder width
Keeping your hips stable, lift one hand off the ground and tap it to the opposite shoulder
Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side, focusing on keeping your body still and avoiding any swaying or twisting movements
Easy Variation: On your Knees Shoulder Taps (Just like knee push-ups, plant your knees on the floor to alleviate some of your body weight)
Advanced Variation: Decline Shoulder Taps (Place your feet on an elevated surface or you can do these in a handstand position)
Shoulder taps are a great exercise for targeting the core, shoulders, and chest muscles. By adding in this stability challenge, you will also engage your smaller stabilizer muscles for a more well-rounded workout. Make sure to keep your hips steady and avoid any rotation or lifting of the hips during the movement.
Australian Pull-ups/Bodyweight Rows
Find a sturdy bar or set of handles like a TRX band
Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apartand lean back
Keep your body straight and engage your core as you pull yourself up towards your hands, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together
Slowly lower back down to the starting position without fully relaxing your arms
Easy Variation: The further your body is from being parallel to the floor, the easier the exercise
Advanced Variation: Place your body parallel to the floor or elevate your feet in a decline position to make the exercise more challenging.
Australian pull-ups are a great alternative to traditional pull-ups for those who may not have access to a pull-up bar or are unable to complete full-bodyweight pull-ups.
By adjusting the height of the bar or ledge, you can make this exercise easier or harder based on your strength level. Make sure to drive your elbows back and avoid using momentum during the movement for maximum shoulder benefit.
Easy: Handstand against a wall or holding a pike position
Intermediate: Regular free-standing handstands
Advanced: Handstand push-ups
Handstands are an advanced bodyweight exercise that requires a combination of strength, balance, and control. It is important to warm up your wrists and shoulders before attempting this exercise to prevent injury.
As you continue to practice, try holding the handstand for longer periods of time and eventually work towards doing freestanding handstands without the support of a wall. Remember to focus on proper form and engage your core throughout the movement.
Some additional tips for improving your handstand form include:
Pointing your toes and squeezing your glutes to create a straight line in your body
Keeping your arms straight and pushing through your shoulders to maintain stability
Looking at the ground slightly in front of your hands to help with balance
Practicing against a wall with your back facing the wall to work on controlling your handstand kick-ups
Use props like yoga blocks or a resistance band around your legs for support as you build strength and control.
Calisthenics Shoulder Workout Routine Examples
Now it’s time to tie it all together into a killer shoulder workout for each skill level. The reps or hold time for each exercise will vary depending on your current skill level, so start where you can and work your way up the progressions.
These are just examples of how you can piece a workout routine together:
Push-ups (or Knee Push-ups): 2-3 sets of 10-20
Pike Push-ups (or on knees): 2-3 sets of 6-12
Shoulder Taps (or on knees): 2-3 sets of 10 on each side
Bodyweight Rows: 2-3 sets of 6-12
Push-ups (to warm up): 2 sets of 10-20
Handstand (Freestanding or against the wall): 2-3 sets of 15-30 seconds
Pike Push-ups (or decline) : 3-4 sets of 8-12
Shoulder Taps (can be done against a wall in a handstand) : 3-4 sets of 10-15 on each side
Bodyweight Rows: 3-4 sets of 6-12
Push-ups (to warm up): 2 sets of 10-20
Handstand Push-ups: 4-6 sets of 8-12
Handstand Hold: 2-3 sets of a few seconds shy of failure
Handstand shoulder taps (can be done against a wall): 3-4 sets of 10-15 on each side
Bodyweight Rows (body parallel to the floor): 4 sets of 8-12
All-in-all, this calisthenics shoulder workout is a great way to build strength and muscle tone. For those looking for a fun, cost-effective, and versatile workout option, calisthenics is the way to go! Whether you’re an amateur fitness enthusiast or more experienced in the gym, with some practice and focus interrupting this workout routine into your schedule can help you achieve amazing results over time.
So if you’re looking for a great way to strengthen your shoulders enlist in this workout today. You won’t regret it! Lastly, keep in mind that as with any form of fitness, proper form and consistency is key. Make sure to stay committed and consistent with your workouts for the best effects – then get ready to show off your toned arms!