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Exercise & Training, Fitness

8 Arm and Shoulder Workouts To Strengthen the Upper Body

Written by Joseph Summers
Health and Fitness Enthusiast
Reviewed by Davide Alfonsi
Davide Alfonsi is an Online Weight Loss Specialist and former London Celebrity Personal Trainer.

Fact Checked. Our dedicated editorial team tirelessly evaluates every article we publish to ensure the information is factual, up-to-date and free of bias.

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A strong upper body is important not only for appearance but also for overall physical health and functionality. The arms and shoulders are an important area to focus on because they play an important role in many everyday activities and sports.

This article will go over 8 effective arm and shoulder workouts that you can incorporate into your fitness routine to help strengthen your upper body and overall fitness.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just getting started, these exercises will push you and help you reach your fitness goals.

Arm and Shoulder Workouts for Upper Body

1. Push Ups

Push ups are simply awesome, they can be performed almost anywhere and require no equipment. There’s also a mountain of different variations for increasing the difficulty and muscle focus.

Push ups don’t just work the chest, the lowering action really works the arms and shoulders too!

Focus on performing slow and steady movements and always stop your sets before failure. Once you can complete 20 controlled repetitions for a few sets, you need to make it harder!

Beginners should focus on push-ups from the knees before progressing to classic push-ups and beyond!

2. Planks

Planks are another incredibly versatile bodyweight exercise. They will strengthen your core abdominal muscles while carving out solid arms and shoulders.


Begin with regular static hold planks, from a familiar push-up type position. Engage your core, contract your shoulders and arms with a straight back for as long as you can.

Slowly build up your time under tension. Once you can hold a regular plank for more than 1 minute, consider trying some of these more challenging variations.

3. Overhead Press

The overhead press is the ultimate shoulder strength builder. Your arms and core are also going to feel the pressure too!

The basic movement is performed by holding weights in front and in line with your neck, push up to reach the sky and slowly lower down again before repeating.

Begin using light dumbbells and build up the weight as you get stronger. Eventually, you can swap the dumbbells to a loaded barbell.

Remember to push yourself gradually, once you can easily complete 10 repetitions it’s time to up the weight!

4. Chin Ups

Chin ups are quite tough, but you will be rewarded with perfectly crafted arms, biceps, and shoulders.

Performed them by gripping a high bar, arms shoulder width apart and hands facing towards you. Under the tension of your own body weight, raise and lower yourself in a controlled motion.


Don’t sweat it if you can’t yet perform a single pull-up. Start with negative repetitions by repeatedly lowering yourself slowly. By the time you can perform 10 negative repetitions, you will be ready to tackle a full pull up or two.

Once you can complete 15+ slow full repetitions, wear a weighted belt to make it more challenging!

5. Pull Ups

Similar to the chin-up but tougher! Perform the same movement with a wider grip and your hands facing away. This shifts the demand to your shoulders, lateral and back muscles.

Again, you may need to start with negative repetitions. Once you can complete 6+, you can attempt full repetitions. If you can perform 12+ full reps, start wearing more weight!

Both chin ups and pull ups become more challenging (or grueling) the slower you complete each repetition!

6. Dips

Like the other bodyweight exercises, dips can be performed in a variety of different ways. They are great for developing strong, defined arms, shoulders and chest.

Focus on using your arms and shoulders to slowly lower yourself down and raise yourself back up. Start by performing dips using a raised object behind you. Make sure you just stable objects to avoid injury.

Once you can easily perform sets of 15+ slow repetitions, try raising your feet using another raised object.

To make this exercise even tougher you can use a dip bar and even a weighted belt! Remember to progress gradually, it’s a tricky exercise but your results will speak for themselves!


7. Lateral Raises

Lateral raises are a great isolation exercise for arm and shoulder workouts. By focusing on primarily using your deltoid muscles your shoulders muscles will “popping” out in no time!

Grab two light dumbbells and hold each by your side. Lock your elbows and raise the weights together until horizontal, then slowly lower them back down.

The movement must be slow and controlled to get the most out of this exercise. Once you can perform 12+ it’s time to increase the weight!

Try switching to front raises by raising the dumbbells in front of you. These will target a different head of the same muscle to achieve well-rounded shoulders!

8. Bicep Curls

Lacking definition in the arm department? Bicep curls will have your arms plumped up in no time!

Start by using a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Keeping the rest of your body and elbow in place, lift each lift up to your chest and back down again slowly.

Progress up in weight once you can perform 12+ repetitions, eventually, you will be able to use a loaded barbell.


Bottom Line

These arm and shoulder workouts are suitable for people of all fitness levels and can help in the improvement of overall physical health and functionality.

You can achieve a stronger and more toned upper body while also improving your overall fitness by incorporating these workouts into your fitness routine.

Featured photo credit: Monika Kabise via unsplash.com

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