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7 BEST Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises (30-Minute Shoulder Workout for Women)

Build strong, sculpted shoulders and arms with this 30-Minute Shoulder Workout for Women! Seven of the BEST dumbbell shoulder exercises at home in a challenging, 30-minute shoulder workout.

Jump to 7 Best Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises

How can I build shoulder muscles at home?

Tone your shoulders with dumbbells by doing these 7 exercises for shoulders. No bench, barbell or fancy gym equipment needed!

The most important shoulder muscles in the upper arm are the deltoid muscles and the four rotator cuff muscles:

  1. Subscapularis
  2. Supraspinatus
  3. Infraspinatus
  4. Teres minor muscles

While these muscles are relatively small muscles compared to some of the bigger muscles in the upper body (like the chest, back and biceps), it’s important to strength train the shoulder muscles.

Especially if you want to avoid a rotator cuff injury.

Overhead Shoulder Press | Benefits of Shoulder Exercises For Women

Benefits of shoulder workouts for women:

  1. Prevent shoulder injuries. Shoulder injuries are some of the most common injuries doctors see in regular gym-goers (NBC). Strengthening the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint provides more stability, and can reduce risk of injury.
  2. Train multiple upper body muscles. Several of the exercises that engage the shoulder muscles also work the other muscles in your arms. Specifically your other ‘push muscles’ — chest and triceps.
  3. Toned arms. While strength training the shoulder muscles has more benefits than the aesthetics of toned arms, it’s a nice add!

These dumbbell shoulder exercises for women are designed to target the shoulder muscles from multiple angles to create definition and tone the arms.

What weight dumbbell should women use?

How heavy should your dumbbells be? That all depends on your fitness level, experience and goals.

  • Beginner: start with 5 lb dumbbells for this shoulder workout.
  • Intermediate: start with 8-10 lb dumbbells for these shoulder exercises.
  • Advanced: if you’re looking to really build shoulder hypertrophy (muscle building), use 15-20 lb dumbbells for this shoulder workout.

How many times a week should a woman lift weights?

Again this all depends on your fitness level, experience and goals.

On average, I would suggest lifting weights three days a week.

If you’re strength training three times a week, you can expect to see noticeable muscle growth within six to eight weeks of starting a new strength training routine.

Dumbbell Shoulder Workout for Women At Home Pin

Sculpt your shoulders and build strong, toned arms with these 7 best dumbbell shoulder exercises for women.

From shoulder presses to lateral raises, this 30-minute shoulder workout for women specifically targets all heads of the shoulder (but also engages the chest and triceps too).

Add this dumbbell shoulder workout to your strength training routine once every couple weeks.

Workout Equipment:

Medium to heavy pair of dumbbells. I recommend between 5-20 lb dumbbells. I used 10, 12, 15 and 20 lbs.

Note, if you don’t have dumbbells, you can do the majority of these shoulder exercises with a resistance band. 

Workout Instructions:

Click here to follow along with the 30-Minute Shoulder Workout for Women (video of 7 best shoulder exercises at the top of this post).

I’ll be your personal trainer and coach you through each dumbbell shoulder exercise, providing form cues and modifications along the way.

Alternatively, work through the list of shoulder exercises at home below at your own pace.

The 30-Minute Shoulder Workout for Women looks like this:

  • 7 Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises
  • 10 Reps Per Shoulder Exercise
  • Repeat x3 Sets

Note, this shoulder workout will test your grip strength; set the dumbbells down between each exercise to shake out your grip. 

The 7 Best Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises for Women

  1. Arnold Press
  2. Push Press
  3. Upright Row and Front Raise
  4. Neutral Grip Press and 2-Count Goal Post Drop
  5. Lateral Raises
  6. Uneven Push Up and Shoulder Tap
  7. Half Kneeling Hinge and Single Arm Shoulder Press

See an example of each dumbbell shoulder exercise below.

1. Arnold Press

Targets: The deltoids (the triangular muscles on top of your shoulders).

The Arnold Press involves moving in multiple planes of motion, so you hit ALL heads of the shoulder!

how to do an Arnold press with weights

How to do an Arnold Press with weights:

  1. Hold both dumbbells with an underhand grip (palms facing you), elbows at shoulder height in front of your body and dumbbells at about eye level.
  2. Engaging your core and maintaining a slight bend in your knees to protect your low back, rotate your palms away from your body as you press the dumbbells overhead. This movement is a big, full range of motion. Think of drawling a half circle with your hands before you press overhead.
  3. Then reverse the motion, rotating your wrists inward (ending with palms facing you) as you lower down to the starting position. Aim to keep your elbows at shoulder height rather than letting them drop down.
  4. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

2. Push Press

Targets: The shoulders, triceps, rear delts and upper back muscles (with some assistance from the lower body).

dumbbell push press shoulder workout for women

How to do a Dumbbell Push Press:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, slight bend in your knees, holding dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing in towards each other (neutral grip).
  2. Drop into a shallow squat; about a 2-inch dip. Then press through your heels and push the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended. Think of peeking your head through your arms as you lock out the dumbbells overhead.
  3. Lower the dumbbells down to the starting position at shoulder level and repeat.
  4. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

3. Upright Row + Front Raise

Targets: Shoulders and upper back; specifically the front and middle heads of the deltoids (shoulders), as well as the trapezius and rhomboids (back).

upright row and front raise with dumbbells

How to do a Dumbbell Upright Row and Dumbbell Front Raise:

  1. Start with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in your knees. Hold dumbbells in your hands, palms facing in towards your body.
  2. Leading with your elbows, pull the dumbbells up until your elbows reach shoulder height. As you pull the dumbbells up, think of pulling your shoulder blades down. Be sure to keep the dumbbells close to your body as you pull them upwards.
  3. With control, lower the dumbbells back down to staring position. This is an upright row.
  4. Keeping your arms straight, lift the dumbbells straight out in front of your body until they reach shoulder height.
  5. With control, lower the dumbbells back down, landing in front of your thighs. This is a front raise.
  6. The combination of these two shoulder exercises is one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

4. Neutral Grip Press + 2-Count Goal Post Drop

Targets: Both the anterior and lateral heads of the deltoid.

Neutral grip overhead shoulder press

How to do a Neutral Grip Overhead Press + Goal Post Drop:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, slight bend in your knees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, elbows in line with your shoulders, palms facing in towards each other (neutral grip).
  2. Press the dumbbells straight overhead, keeping elbows narrow. At the top of the dumbbell press, rotate the dumbbells so your palms face out (away from you).
  3. As you lower the dumbbells, elbows should go wide, arms bent at 90 degrees (like goal posts). Keep your elbows in line with your shoulders, rather than letting them drop down.
  4. At the bottom of the goal post, rotate the dumbbells so palms face in towards each other like they did at the start of the movement.
  5. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

5. Lateral Raises

Targets: The lateral deltoid (also engages the anterior deltoids and posterior deltoid).

The lateral raise is a great isolated shoulder exercise.

how to do lateral raise dumbbell shoulder exercises

How to do a dumbbell Lateral Raise:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, slight bend in your knees, holding a dumbbell in each hand at hip level, palms facing in towards each other.
  2. With a slight bend in each arm at the elbow, squeeze to lift the dumbbells, slightly rotating them as you lift so the dumbbells end parallel to the floor. Lift just to shoulder height.
  3. With control, return to the starting position, palms facing inward.
  4. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

6. Uneven Push Up + Shoulder Tap (5 per side)

Targets: The pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), triceps and core (specifically the transverse abdominals and obliques).

The uneven push-up is a great way to add intensity to challenge the core while also targeting the muscles from different angles.

push up and shoulder tap | shoulders and arms workout for women

How to do an Uneven Push Up + Shoulder Tap:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly.
  2. Then place your right hand on top of a stable platform (in this case I’m using the head of my 20 lb dumbbell, but you can use a book or yoga block).
  3. Hold the high plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
  4. Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground, with elbows falling back towards the hips. Maintain a straight line with your body — head, chest and legs in one straight line.
  5. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into a high plank position.
  6. With a tight core, take your left hand off the mat and tap your right shoulder. Keep both hips stable and square to the ground.
  7. That’s one rep. Complete 5 reps on the right hand and 5 reps on the left hand.

Modification: Perform the push ups from the knees and then pop back up to the toes for the shoulder tap if you can. Or perform the push ups and shoulder taps from an incline by placing your hands on a chair or bench.

7. Half Kneeling Hinge + Single Arm Press (10 per side)

Targets: The rear deltoids and front deltoids (shoulders) and core.

A great exercise to increase unilateral (single-sided) demands of stability and strength on the shoulder muscles.

single arm shoulder press with dumbbell

How to do a Half Kneeling Hinge and Single Arm Shoulder Press:

  1. Start in a half kneeling position — right knee on the ground and left foot on the ground.
  2. Hold one dumbbell in the right hand with a neutral grip (palm facing your body).
  3. Perform a half kneeling hinge swing by hinging at the hips with the dumbbell between your legs. Then drive your hips forward, powering the dumbbell up to your right shoulder; elbow in line with your shoulder (maintaining a neutral grip).
  4. From here perform a single arm dumbbell shoulder press. Press the dumbbell straight overhead, locking out the elbow, right bicep should be near right ear.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbell back down towards the right shoulder and return to the starting position with the dumbbell between the legs.
  6. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps on the right shoulder and 10 reps on the left shoulder.

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More of the Best Dumbbell Arm Exercises for Women

  1. I love all your videos! We need one just for Biceps! I love this shoulder workout and the back, tricep and chest! All so challenging and so quick! Thank you!

    • Candace! I’m so glad you’re loving the workout videos! And yes, we’ll need to add one of these split training workouts for biceps too. Stay tuned I have a legs, back and biceps workout coming soon! Keep up the great work! -Lindsey

  2. I can’t wait to try your best shoulder exercises. I love your workouts. I’ve been using them for about a year and have seen a huge difference in my body. Thank you so much for the motivation and know how to make strength training a part of my workout routine. I am almost 50 and look better than I have in years thanks to your blog and workouts. Thank you!