3 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises To Build Strength

3 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises To Build Strength

You can strengthen and build strong shoulders from home -- and it’s much easier than you think! When you don’t have access to a cable machine, a shoulder press, or a pull-up machine, you can still build shoulder strength and stability using your bodyweight.

Simply put, bodyweight exercises are generally functional exercises, meaning they mimic everyday movements of your shoulders, like lifting or reaching. When you complete these exercises using the correct form, you can improve your ability to perform everyday activities, as well as improving your performance when you exercise.

These effective shoulder exercises below will help to strengthen your tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the shoulder joint -- giving you stronger, more flexible shoulders. This is essential for activities like swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding, as well as lifting and carrying everyday items.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

But First, What’s The Importance Of Strong Shoulders, Anyway? 

Nobody wants flat, weak shoulders -- men and women alike. 

Anyone who works out will make time in their routine for their shoulders. In fact, you probably know someone who skips leg day all the time, but do you know anyone who skips shoulder day? Not likely. 

Now, while the shoulders are appreciated in that aspect -- after all, people want to look the best they can, and the shoulders are a very noticeable muscle group -- they are under-appreciated for their purpose in everyday life. 

You see, despite their relatively small size (compared to other muscle groups), your shoulders play a huge role -- they are used in every single motion of your upper body. Think about how you use your arms throughout the day, your shoulders are supporting and dictating it all. Therefore, they need to be mobile and strong, or you’ll be severely limiting your capabilities and movements in any activity that involves your upper body. Moreover, with weak shoulders that lack mobility, you increase your risk of injury -- even with normal everyday tasks. 

Here Are a Few of the Top Benefits of Strong Shoulders

  • Prevents injury -- and not just for your shoulder joint! Shoulders that are weak can lead to all types of joint and muscle injuries. If your shoulders fail, other joints can too -- that’s the kinetic chain effect
  • Makes any movement (like carrying, lifting, throwing, swinging, punching, etc.) with your arms easier (and more powerful). 
  • Self-confidence -- this really doesn’t need an explanation. Many people are attracted to well-defined shoulders.  

3 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises 

Ready to build strong shoulders? Below, we breakdown some of the best bodyweight shoulder exercises you can try now, and how you can take them to the next level with Gear 1. 

Shoulder Taps 

Although this is typically considered an exercise to build core strength, it also works your deltoids (mainly side and front delts), as well as your triceps and even quads, glutes, and lower back. 

  1. Get into a standard plank position -- on your hands, not your forearms. Keep your core, quads, and glutes tight at all times. 
  2. With control -- while keeping your shoulders and hips squared in front of you -- lift your right hand up to your left shoulder and tap it with your palm. 
  3. Bring your right hand back down and repeat on the left side. 


  • If needed, you can make this exercise easier by doing it from your knees. 
  • Try really hard to keep your hips from rotating during this movement. 
  • Keep your scapular retracted (shoulder blades pulling together). 

Shoulder Taps With Gear 1:

Connect Gear 1 to a low anchor and slap on the wrist straps to do this exercise with the benefit of added resistance to really work the shoulders and core.

Explosive Pike Push-Ups 

The pike push-up is arguably one of the best bodyweight shoulder exercises you can do. Period. With this version below, you’re simply taking it up a notch by using explosive force on the concentric part of the movement to push yourself up so that both your hands are up off the ground. When you land, be sure to keep full control, moving slowly back down. The goal is to be explosive going up and slow and controlled going down. Be careful with this movement, as if you slip, you can land on your head!

  1. Get into a basic push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Then, lift your hips up into the air so that your upper body is as vertical as humanly possible. Your body will make an upside-down v-shape. At this point, both your legs and hands should be straight. 
  3. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your upper body until your head nearly touches the floor, then press back up explosively until your arms are straight and hands are off the ground. 
  4. Catch yourself on the way back down, keeping strict control, so you move slowly back down. 
  5. Repeat. 


  • If you don’t have the mobility for this movement-- do elevated pike push-ups. 
  • Do hamstring mobility exercised prior to this movement as hamstring flexibility will come into play on this one. A band is ideal for stretching.
  • If you have a tough time doing basic push-ups, don’t try this exercise. Practice push-ups first (yes, we know, it’s a chest exercise, but it’ll also develop your shoulder muscles). 

Amp It Up With Gear 1: Shoulder Press

  1. Stand in a staggered stance with your back to Gear 1 connected to a low anchor.
  2. Hold the Gear 1 handles at shoulder height.
  3. Press your arms upward above your head, shoulder-width apart, and repeat.

Handstand Kick Ups 

Not only is this an excellent exercise to practice handstands, but it’s also a great core stability and shoulder builder. 

  1. Stand facing a wall. The wall is there in case you kick up too far and will prevent you from rolling forward and landing on your back -- which hurts, so be careful! 
  2. Place both of your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart, about a foot from the wall. 
  3. Shoulder forward, chest tucked, then kick up -- one leg will follow the other. 
  4. Aim to get your body in a vertical position, hold for a few seconds, and then bring one leg down as the other follows to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat. 


  • Be sure to keep your arms straight. 
  • The wall is only there if you happen to kick up too strong. Ideally, you want to try to avoid the wall completely. Your goal is to get into a vertical position -- pause -- then return back to the floor. 
  • Move your shoulder back slightly when your legs reach the top to get in a straight handstand position. 

How to Get Strong Shoulders With Gear 1: The Standing Y-Raise

This exercise works the shoulders, as well as the lats and lower back.

  1. Stand facing a mid-level anchor holding the Gear 1 handles to the side, leaning in slightly.
  2. Make an explosive movement and bring your arms overhead to a Y-position.
  3. Focus on keeping the back and arms straight, and core engaged.

    A Final Word 

    Although bodyweight workouts are great -- especially if your goal is to be lean and you don’t really care about having huge muscles -- you really can’t go wrong by adding some great equipment into the mix. If you want to keep things minimal, there are only a few fitness tools that are portable, affordable, and very effective. Our favorite? Resistance training -- specifically, HYGEAR Gear 1

    This innovative suspension system is all you need to get those dream shoulders that you’re after. The versatile bands can be anchored to your body, a door frame, or anything heavy that won’t budge, so you can bust out one of HYGEAR’s on-demand workouts pretty much anywhere. And the best part? All of your performance stats are sent directly to the HYGEAR App, where you can see progress reports, recommendations and access hundreds of guided workout videos. Pretty cool, don’t you think?!

    Start building your shoulder strength and check out HYGEAR today -- trust us, you’ll be glad you did!


    6 Reasons A Strong Upper Body Is Essential To A Healthy Life | HuffPost

    Kinetic Chain Exercises: Open and Closed | Healthline

    Best Shoulder Exercises and Shoulder Workouts for Building Muscle | Men’s Health

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