The 10 Shoulder Workouts With Barbell – How to Build Strong Shoulders That Look Good and Feel Great

Is building stronger and more defined shoulders a goal you’re chasing? Shoulder workouts with barbells are an effective way to achieve this. Our article brings you the top 10 barbell exercises that target your shoulder muscles, helping you to gain muscle mass and improve strength.

Intrigued? Let’s dive right into these game-changing workouts!

Key Takeaways

  • Shoulder workouts with barbells are an effective way to build stronger and more defined shoulders.
  • Barbell training engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, saving time and maximizing workout efficiency.
  • The top 10 barbell shoulder exercises include the push press, seated military press, barbell bench press, incline barbell bench press, Z-press, overhead carry, upright row, kneeling landmine press, barbell face pull, and barbell shrug or overhead shrug.
  • To have an effective shoulder workout with a barbell, focus on maintaining proper form and technique, warm-up exercises for shoulder mobility and injury prevention before your workout.

The Benefits of Barbell Training for Shoulders

Barbell training offers significant benefits for the shoulders. One primary advantage is that barbell shoulder exercises engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This effectiveness saves you time while maximizing your workout efficiency.

With heavy weights, these exercises can lead to size and definition growth in the deltoids, contributing to broader and stronger shoulders.

The overhead press, a staple move in barbell training, stands out as an excellent exercise for overall shoulder development. It targets all three heads of the deltoid muscle – front, middle, and rear – providing a comprehensive workout for this critical area.

Moreover, bent-over rows with a barbell work several muscle groups at once including upper back muscles and rear deltoids alongside enhancing arm strength. Lastly, besides building muscular strength in your shoulders through moves such as the barbell shoulder press, it also improves mobility in said joints; thus aiding you not only aesthetically but functionally too.

The 10 Best Barbell Shoulder Exercises:

Here are the top 10 barbell shoulder exercises for a killer workout: Push Press, Seated Military Press, Barbell Bench Press, Incline Barbell Bench Press, Z-Press, Overhead Carry, Upright Row, Kneeling Landmine Press, Barbell Face Pull and Barbell Shrug or Overhead Shrug.

Push Press

The push press is a powerhouse of a barbell exercise, perfect for those aiming to boost their shoulder strength and explosiveness. A variation of the overhead press, it uniquely employs leg power to drive the barbell above your head.

This action requires firm core stability and ample shoulder mobility, so practicing this move can also enhance these critical fitness components.

To execute the push press, position your hands slightly broader than your shoulders on the barbell. By incorporating explosive movements into this already intense upper body workout, you become better equipped for powerlifting and other strength training activities.

The result? Improved overall upper body strength courtesy of one dynamite exercise – Push Press!

Seated Military Press

The Seated Military Press is an integral part of any barbell training routine. It’s a staple strength exercise that targets major muscle groups such as the shoulders, upper chest, and triceps.

By negating the involvement of your lower body, this workout particularly enhances arm and shoulder motion while simultaneously developing strong shoulders. The methodology involves sitting upright with a barbell held slightly wider than shoulder-width apart for optimum results in both strength training and hypertrophy exercises.

Barbell Bench Press

The barbell bench press is a highly effective exercise for building muscle and strength in the shoulders. It specifically targets the chest muscles, but also engages the triceps, anterior deltoids, and serratus anterior muscles.

Proper form is crucial when performing this exercise to prevent injury and ensure maximum benefits. By adjusting grip width, incorporating different variations, or adding pauses or tempo changes, you can modify the barbell bench press to suit your fitness level and goals.

Incline Barbell Bench Press

The incline barbell bench press is a powerful upper body workout that targets the chest, lats, triceps, and shoulders. It is an effective variation of the traditional bench press exercise.

By lying on an incline bench and pressing a barbell up and down at chest height, you engage your upper chest muscles along with your shoulders. This compound exercise helps strengthen both areas simultaneously, making it a great addition to any shoulder workout routine.

Incorporating the incline barbell bench press can lead to increased muscle activation in your upper chest and shoulders, ultimately enhancing overall strength in those areas.


The Z Press is a seated pressing exercise that focuses on upper body strength, particularly in the shoulders and triceps. Unlike other shoulder exercises, the Z Press eliminates leg drive, making it more challenging and effective for targeting specific muscles.

This exercise not only works the anterior deltoids and triceps but also engages the upper back, shoulder stabilizers, and core. It can be performed with either a barbell or dumbbells.

To get the most out of your workout, it is recommended to do three sets of 10 reps of the Z Press. So add this unique exercise to your routine to build strong shoulders and improve overall upper body strength.

Overhead Carry

The overhead carry is a highly effective exercise for building stronger shoulders and improving overall overhead strength. By holding a barbell or kettlebell overhead while walking, you engage the muscles in your shoulders, upper back, and core to maintain stability.

This exercise not only strengthens your shoulder muscles but also reinforces joint integrity and stability. It can even help reduce the risk of shoulder injuries during other activities.

The barbell overhead carry specifically targets the shoulders isometrically, making it an excellent addition to any shoulder workout routine.

Upright Row

The upright row is one of the best barbell shoulder exercises for targeting the shoulders and upper back muscles. Although it has a reputation for causing shoulder pain due to impingement, when performed with proper form, the exercise can lead to muscle growth in the shoulders.

It’s important to focus on maintaining good posture and avoid lifting too heavy weights to prevent any potential discomfort. Incorporating upright rows into your workout routine can help strengthen and build your shoulder muscles effectively.

Kneeling Landmine Press

The kneeling landmine press is a versatile exercise option that targets the shoulders and triceps. It helps build upper body strength and muscle mass while improving shoulder mobility.

By performing this exercise in a kneeling position, you can enhance stability and control during the movement. The landmine attachment with a barbell adds variety to your workout routine, making it an effective choice for strengthening imbalances between the left and right shoulder.

Incorporating the kneeling landmine press into your barbell shoulder workouts can help you achieve better overall upper body strength and stability.

Barbell Face Pull

The Barbell Face Pull is a versatile exercise that targets and strengthens the shoulder muscles, particularly the rear delts. It is considered one of the top 10 barbell shoulder exercises for an effective workout.

By performing this exercise, you can also work on your traps and deltoids, helping to develop better shoulder stability and posture. To achieve optimal results, combine the Barbell Face Pull with other exercises like the Barbell Overhead Press and Dumbbell Lateral Raise to target different areas of the shoulder muscles.

Incorporating this exercise into your routine will help you build strong and well-rounded shoulders.

Barbell Shrug or Overhead Shrug

The barbell shrug and overhead shrug are two effective exercises for targeting the upper back muscles, particularly the trapezius muscles. These movements involve lifting the weight towards your shoulders while simultaneously shrugging your shoulders upwards.

The barbell shrug is specifically designed to focus on the trapezius muscles, while the overhead shrug helps improve shoulder mobility and strength. By incorporating these exercises into your shoulder workouts with a barbell, you can enhance overall shoulder strength and development.

So grab that barbell and give these variations a try to take your shoulder training to new heights!

Tips for an Effective Shoulder Workout with Barbell:

To have an effective shoulder workout with a barbell, focus on maintaining proper form and technique throughout each exercise.

Proper form and technique

Mastering proper form and technique is essential for an effective shoulder workout with a barbell. It helps to prevent injuries and ensures optimal results in muscle building and strength training.

When performing exercises like the shoulder press, it is important to maintain core engagement and avoid using momentum to lift the weight. Additionally, keeping the shoulders down and back, with elbows slightly in front of the body, targets the deltoid muscles more effectively.

By focusing on maintaining good posture throughout each repetition, you can maximize your gains while minimizing the risk of injury.

Warm-up exercises

To prepare for an effective shoulder workout with a barbell, it’s important to start with warm-up exercises. These exercises help increase shoulder mobility and prevent injury during your workout.

One of the recommended warm-up exercises is the barbell overhead press, which helps to activate and loosen up the shoulders. Another exercise that can be included in your warm-up routine is front dumbbell raises, which specifically targets and fatigues the anterior deltoid head.

To further prepare for overhead and throwing motions, wrist rotations with a dumbbell are also beneficial. Incorporating these warm-up exercises into your routine will help improve overall shoulder strength while reducing the risk of injury.

Varying rep ranges and weights

Diverse repetition ranges and weights are key to an effective shoulder workout with a barbell. By changing up the number of repetitions and the amount of weight you use, you can stimulate muscle growth in your shoulders.

Arnold Schwarzenegger himself suggests doing 8-11 reps with a weight that would normally allow for only 6 reps, giving your muscles that extra challenge they need to get stronger. Remember, the ultimate goal is to choose a weight that allows for 4-6 reps with excellent form – this will help you achieve those desired results in your shoulder hypertrophy workout.

So don’t be afraid to vary those rep ranges and weights!

Progressive overload

Progressive overload is a key concept in an effective shoulder workout with a barbell. It involves gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your exercises over time.

By consistently challenging your muscles with heavier weights or higher intensity, you can stimulate muscle growth and strength gains. This leads to better results and prevents your muscles from plateauing.

Incorporating progressive overload into your workout routine is crucial for promoting muscle hypertrophy, which involves increasing muscle size and strength. So, remember to progressively increase the resistance in order to continue making progress and achieving your fitness goals.

Rest and recovery

Rest and recovery play a vital role in achieving optimal results from your shoulder workout with a barbell. It is crucial to give your muscles enough time to repair and rebuild after intense strength training.

By allowing at least 48 hours of rest between workouts, you give your shoulders the chance to recover fully, reducing the risk of overuse injuries and promoting muscle growth. Rest periods also help replenish energy stores, so you can train with maximum intensity during your next session.

If you’re looking for ways to enhance intensity without sacrificing recovery time, consider incorporating techniques like rest-pauses on presses or drop sets and supersets for delt raises.


In conclusion, the 10 shoulder workouts with a barbell provide a range of exercises to target and strengthen your shoulders. Whether you choose the push press, seated military press, or upright row, these exercises can help build muscle and increase strength.

Remember to focus on proper form and technique to maximize results and minimize the risk of injury. Get ready to see improvements in your shoulder strength and shape with these effective barbell exercises!


1. Can I do the shoulder workouts with a barbell at home?

Yes, you can perform the shoulder workouts with a barbell at home as long as you have access to the necessary equipment and enough space to safely execute the exercises.

2. Are shoulder workouts with a barbell suitable for beginners?

Shoulder workouts with a barbell can be challenging, especially for beginners. It’s important to start with lighter weights and proper form to avoid injury. Consider consulting a fitness professional or trainer for guidance.

3. How many repetitions should I do for each shoulder workout?

The number of repetitions for each shoulder workout will depend on your fitness goals and current strength level. Generally, aim for 8-12 repetitions per set to build muscle and increase strength.

4. What benefits can I expect from doing these 10 shoulder workouts regularly?

Regularly performing these 10 shoulder workouts can help increase overall shoulder strength, improve posture, enhance upper body stability, and contribute to better performance in various sports activities that involve the use of shoulders such as swimming or weightlifting.