Grow and define your shoulders using only these five dumbbell moves

You can build shoulder muscle and strengthen your upper body with this short dumbbell routine

Woman performs a shoulder dumbbell press
(Image credit: Getty)

If you want to develop strength and muscle in your upper body, and in particular carve out definition across your shoulders, then you've landed in the right place. You don't need different bits of gym equipment, or time, or space for that matter - you'll just need some dumbbells and a spare fifteen minutes.

If you typically train at a gym, you should navigate your way to the free weights section to pick up some dumbbells to complete this routine. Or if you prefer to work out at home, some of the best adjustable dumbbells can make a great investment for any home workout space. These weights fit multiple dumbbells in one device, save on space, and you can modify the load mid-workout.

Once you've acquired some dumbbells, you're ready to be led through this upper body-defining routine by a certified personal trainer, Lisa Lanceford (opens in new tab). You will progress through five different exercises that will engage and challenge your shoulders, as well as other muscles like your chest, triceps, and back.

Lanceford recommends you aim to complete 10 to twelve repetitions of each exercise and finish a total of three rounds of the routine in full. If you're stuck on 'what dumbbell weight should I use?', it's always wise to start off light. This way you can pay attention to proper form and correct form is essential for preventing injury and enhancing your results.

Watch Lisa Lanceford's Five-Move Shoulder Dumbbell Workout

These dumbbell moves will be useful for anyone simply looking to develop more strength in their shoulders. Having stronger shoulders will help you perform daily tasks such as lifting and moving heavy objects and can help to improve your posture.

But the routine will also benefit those looking to build muscle in their shoulders and other surrounding upper body muscles. One of the most efficient ways to promote muscle growth is to continually challenge the muscles, making them work harder than they're used to. You can use the progressive overload technique with these five exercises by increasing the weight size.

Alternatively, if you are using shoulder bodyweight exercises to build strength and muscle, you can simply increase the number of reps you are working with to increase the challenge.

Whether it's strength, muscle, or both that you are looking to develop, you'll want to ensure that your diet is supporting your workouts. Protein is an important ingredient to factor into your daily meals and snacks since protein is what helps our muscles to repair and grow.

There are various different types of proteins that are suitable for various diets - such as plant-based or dairy-free diets - including when it comes in powder form. Some of the best protein powders for weight loss are helpful for adding to shakes and oats, especially on days when your food intake hasn't been overly high in protein.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.