You only need five moves to build stronger shoulders—here's how

Work your upper body and strengthen your shoulders with this five-move dumbbell routine

Man performing a dumbbell Arnold press
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Upper body workouts often focus on your arms and chest, but your shoulders also play a crucial role in everyday tasks like lifting objects and supporting your posture. If you're after a way to build more muscular shoulders, all it takes is a bit of time and this five-move dumbbell workout.

Handily, you just need a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to get started. These customizable weights are an excellent space-saving option for at-home exercise as they combine several dumbbells into one, and you can quickly switch the load mid-workout.

According to Bradley Simmonds, the personal trainer behind this routine, gradually increasing the weight is the key to sustainable results. As he wrote on Instagram, "get these five exercises done regularly and consistently, increasing the amount you lift week by week."

It's a technique known as progressive overload (opens in new tab), where the aim is to continually challenge your muscles and promote growth. And since you only need some dumbbells, it's easy to turn this routine into a habit, whether you're at the gym or training at home.

You'll do 10 repetitions of each of the five exercises and repeat the routine four times for an effective, muscle-building workout. As Simmonds notes, "you can go heavier at 4-6 reps (for growth) or lighter at 14-20reps (keep it lean) depending on what your goals are."

Watch Bradley Simmonds' dumbbell shoulder workout

A post shared by bradleysimmonds (@bradleysimmonds) (opens in new tab)

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Although the focus is on your shoulders, these moves work your whole upper body, including your arms and chest. These areas of your body are all connected, so improving strength in your shoulders has a positive effect on the rest of your upper body too. 

Simmonds' choice of weights plays a role too. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (opens in new tab), dumbbell shoulder presses are more effective at working your deltoid (shoulder) muscles than doing the same exercise with a barbell.

If you want to give the routine a go, we've listed all the moves you need below. Watch Simmonds' Instagram video to perfect your form, get the most from your exercise, and avoid injury.

Bradley Simmonds' dumbbell shoulder workout moves

  • Seated Arnold press x10
  • Lateral raises x10
  • Front raises x10
  • Upright rows x10
  • Kneeling raises x8 on each side

Although Simmonds recommends adding this specific routine into your schedule, you can switch some of the moves for any of these shoulder gym workouts to get similar muscle-building results.

If you want to focus on a different area, these chest workouts at home are an excellent way to develop a stronger chest. Many of these moves use your body weight for resistance, but you can add a set of the best resistance bands to increase the load.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.