The best science-based dumbbell shoulder exercises for BOXROX muscles

This may also be the best science-based dumbbell shoulder exercise a person can do to improve muscle mass. At least, according to Jeremy Ethier.

Jeremy Ethier is a fitness enthusiast, certified kinesiologist, co-founder of Build With Science, and creator of the fitness-focused YouTube channel Jeremy Ethier. He is known for providing evidence-based exercise and fitness advice, backed by scientific research. Jeremy shares workout routines, exercise guides, and nutrition tips to help individuals achieve their fitness goals. His content often emphasizes the importance of proper form, effective workout strategies, and understanding the science behind exercise.

In pursuit of a balanced and defined upper body, Jeremy Ethier emphasizes the key role of the shoulders. Achieving broad, strong shoulders is challenging, and a common shoulder training mistake is skipping the full incorporation of weight training. Jeremy emphasizes the importance of including weight training to prevent imbalances or asymmetries in shoulder development and highlights the various benefits that can enhance shoulder development. a new level.

As always, Ethier reviewed the research done on the best shoulder exercises when it comes to muscle stimulation. And below you’ll find a list of four of the best science-based shoulder barbell exercises for your muscles.

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Related: 21 reasons why your shoulders aren’t growing

The best science-based dumbbell shoulder exercises for your muscles

For those looking to promote shoulder development by integrating more weight training or for individuals with limited access to equipment, see below for a comprehensive guide to exercises The best dumbbells target each aspect of the shoulders.

Shoulder press with dumbbells:

Jeremy introduces the shoulder press, a versatile exercise that can be done standing or sitting. Both variations effectively target the anterior deltoids, with contributions from the middle and posterior deltoids. This exercise serves as the main heavy compound movement for the shoulders. Choosing between standing and sitting depends on individual preferences and goals.

The standing version, backed by 2013 electromyography (EMG) analysis, provides increased activation of the anterior, lateral, and posterior shoulder muscles, along with greater engagement of the core muscles. However, lifting lighter weights can be a drawback. In contrast, the sitting version allows for heavier loads and effective overloading. Proper form is important, with an emphasis on elbow positioning and maintaining core stability to ensure safe and powerful pressing.

Incremental according to Lean method:

To target the often overlooked lateral deltoids, Jeremy recommends doing lateral raises. To improve the effectiveness of the movement, he suggests leaning slightly toward the elevation. This modification is based on research that emphasizes the importance of supraspinatus activation and the need to shift focus to the lateral deltoid throughout the entire range of motion. Emphasizing lighter weights and higher reps, Jeremy recommends performing the raise with your elbows rather than your hands to activate the deltoids and avoid over-stressing the upper traps.

Rear Delt barbell row:

To develop the triceps, Jeremy recommends dumbbell tricep rows. This exercise targets the rear delts, back muscles, and biceps. Jeremy demonstrates a change in form, allowing the elbows to point upward and away from the sides. This adjustment minimizes lat involvement, directing tension posteriorly. Maintain a square body posture, avoiding excessive twisting, arching or rounding of the lower back to ensure optimal performance. He recommends using heavier weights in a moderate rep range of 6 to 12 reps.

Dumbbell face pull:

To further target the posterior deltoids and strengthen the rotator cuff, mid- and lower extremities, Jeremy introduces a dumbbell version of the traditional lat pulldown. This exercise incorporates external rotation, an important function of the posterior deltoids. Proper execution includes performing the exercise on a 45-degree bench to minimize impact on the lower back. Using light dumbbells, individuals rotate their arms up and out, forming a W shape at the top position. Emphasizing a neutral spine and avoiding compensatory movements will ensure maximum effectiveness. Jeremy recommends lighter weights and 10 to 15 higher repetitions.

This routine can be performed independently or integrated into existing exercises to enhance shoulder development. In short, here are the sets and repetitions of the best science-based dumbbell shoulder exercises for the muscles:

  1. Standing or sitting shoulder press: 3-4 sets, 6-12 times
  2. Lateral dumbbell raises: 3-4 sets, 10-15 repetitions
  3. Rear deltoid dumbbell row: 3-4 sets, 6-12 repetitions
  4. Dumbbell pull-ups: 3-4 sets, 10-15 repetitions

It’s important not only to choose the right exercises but also to perform them correctly to maximize muscle growth and prevent injury.

To see Ethiers’ explanation while also showcasing the best science-based dumbbell shoulder exercises mentioned above, watch the following video.

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Strengthening the shoulder muscles is important for maintaining overall health and function of the upper body. Shoulders play an important role in many daily activities, from lifting objects and reaching overhead to pushing and pulling movements. Well-developed shoulder muscles contribute to improved posture, stability and range of motion, enhancing the ability to perform daily tasks effectively and without causing discomfort.

Additionally, strong shoulder muscles are essential to prevent injury. The shoulder is a complex joint system and weakness of the supporting muscles can lead to instability, increasing the risk of injuries such as strains, dislocations or rotator cuff problems. Strengthening these muscles helps create a strong and stable shoulder, reducing vulnerability to common injuries, especially for those who participate in physical activities or sports that involve wing movements. hands repeatedly.

Furthermore, balanced, clear and aesthetically pleasing shoulders contribute to creating a beautiful figure. Many individuals consider shoulder development a key factor in achieving a balanced and attractive appearance in the upper body. Beyond the aesthetic aspect, a strong shoulder base positively affects overall strength and athletic performance, making it an integral part of any well-rounded fitness routine. In essence, the strength of the shoulder muscles not only represents a good appearance but also ensures optimal function, resilience to injury and the ability to participate in many physical activities with confidence and ease. easy.

Let’s break down the pros and cons of incorporating weight training into your fitness routine:


  1. Flexibility: Dumbbells offer a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups. From compound movements to isolation exercises, they provide a versatile workout routine.
  2. Stable: Unlike machines that provide stability, dumbbells require more muscle control and stability. This engages the stabilizing muscles, contributing to overall strength and balance.
  3. Individual exercises: Dumbbells come in a variety of weights, making it easy to customize exercises based on your individual strength level. This is beneficial for both beginners and advanced practitioners.
  4. Functional Movement: Many weightlifting exercises mimic everyday movements, promoting functional strength that can be applied to everyday activities.
  5. At-home workout options: Dumbbells are relatively compact and can be used at home, providing a convenient choice for those who like to workout in private space.
  6. General range of motion: Weight training often allows for a more natural range of motion, enhancing flexibility and joint health.

3 Best Exercises for All 3 Shoulder Parts


  1. Maximum weight: Dumbbells have a weight limit, and for advanced lifters who want extremely heavy loads, dumbbells or machines may be more suitable.
  2. Learning curve: Some exercises, especially those involving free weights, can have a learning curve for beginners. Proper form is important to avoid injury.
  3. Uneven strength development: If not used properly, one side of the body can become stronger than the other, leading to muscle imbalance. This can be addressed by incorporating unilateral exercises.
  4. Limited isolation: While dumbbells are great for compound movements, some isolation exercises may require specialized machinery for optimal muscle isolation.
  5. Safety concerns: Without proper positioning or form, you run the risk of injury, especially when lifting heavier weights. It’s important to start with the right weight and progress gradually.
  6. Device Availability: In a crowded gym, finding the right set of dumbbells can sometimes be a challenge. Home users may need to invest in a variety of dumbbells for a well-rounded workout.
  7. Challenges of progress: As strength increases, finding heavier dumbbells can become more difficult. This is where weights or machines can provide a more scalable level of progression.

In summary, while weightlifting has many advantages, it is essential to consider individual fitness goals, preferences, and safety considerations. Combining free weights, machines, and bodyweight exercises can provide a well-rounded and effective workout routine.

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