BEST Shoulder Exercises for Women – 15 Minute Shoulder Workout

This at-home 15 minute shoulder workout with dumbbells features the BEST shoulder exercises for women when you are tight on time.

This week’s new workout in our 15 Minute Sweat Series feature one of my favorite areas to work — the shoulders!

Upper body workouts are great to get in quick workouts. They are smaller muscles than lower body muscles and therefore fatigue faster. But also because once you finish you always just feel so much stronger!

And shoulders are my absolute favorite upper body area to work. Strong and toned shoulders just look so dang good in a tank top during the summer — or any time of year!

This workout has only three exercises, but the combination of moves works every angle of those beautiful shoulders!

Jump to the best shoulder exercises for women video below

Benefits of Shoulder Workouts for Women

Improves Posture

Besides the confidence you’ll gain from having amazing looking shoulders, strong shoulders will help to improve your posture — especially if you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk.

In this day and age poor posture is usually the result of weak and very tight muscles. The muscles in the chest and anterior deltoid (or the front shoulder), are tight and weak. And the muscles in the upper back and posterior deltoids ( the rear shoulders) are usually weak and overly stretched.

Properly strengthening and moving your shoulders will help to bring them back into their true alignment by increasing mobility and strength in your shoulder girdle.

When you improve your posture you may find other benefits that go along with it. You may notice less neck pain or tension, feeling taller, and possibly even less headaches — if that it something that you suffer from.

Reduce Chance of Shoulder Injuries

Many shoulder injuries happen because of weak or under-active shoulder muscles. And in many cases the rotator cuff is the one that takes the bulk of the injuries. 

Strengthening the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint will create more stability. And also help to develop more balanced strength within your shoulder girdle. 

Having more stability and balancing your strength equally through out your shoulder girdle can help to prevent many common injuries in the shoulders.

Build Strength for Everyday Life

Almost any movement or daily activity that requires the upper body uses the shoulder muscles. Think of reaching for something on a high self, carrying heavy groceries, or even vacuuming the carpet or washing the windows . 

These activities all activate your shoulders. And without strong shoulders, not only will these tasks take a lot longer, but you’ll also be more likely to sustain an injury because your muscles will fatigue faster and you’ll most likely lose proper form.

And if that’s not enough of a reason for you, shoulders are also an important part of many hobbies that you may enjoy. Activities such as tennis, golf, swimming, and even just lifting up your kids are all much easier when you have strong and active shoulders.

More 15 Minute Workouts…

The Best At-Home Shoulder Workout For Women

Equipment needed:

All you need for this 15 minute shoulder workout is a set of medium-weight dumbbells

  • Beginners: I would recommend starting with 5-7 pounds
  • Intermediate: Choosing a weight between 8-12 pounds should be perfect
  • Advanced: You can choose weight as heavy as 15 to even 20 pounds depending on your strength

No matter where you are in your fitness journey just be sure you can do all of the repetitions with proper form. The last three repetitions should be challenging but do-able — that’s how you know you have the correct weight.

You can also choose to have more than one set of free weights depending on if you want heavy weights for certain exercises for if you need a lighter set depending on your strengths for each exercise.

You may also decide that you would like to have a mat during some of the warm up exercises.

Workout instructions:

For this shoulder workout you can choose a few different options. You can follow along with the full-length workout video below. Or you can choose to do this workout routine at your own pace with the instructions outlined below.

In the video workout I will demonstrate and coach you through each exercise. I will provide verbal and visual cues to help you with your form and to ensure that you’re doing each exercise correctly. Come on and work out with me — let me be your own personal trainer!

The BEST Shoulder Exercises for Women

Even when you are short on time you can still fit in these quick and effective shoulder exercises for women with this 15 minute workout. Grab you dumbbells and let’s go!

Warm Up

Bird Dog

Come down onto your mat with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Engage your core pulling your abs in tight, and lengthen out through the crown of your head and through your tail. Without shifting your hips side to side begin to slide your right hand forward up in line with your right shoulder, as you slide your left leg back reaching your toes in line with your LEFT hip. Think of reaching in opposite directions of the room. Tighten your abs even more as you bring your hand and leg back down to your starting position, and repeat with the LEFT hand and RIGHT leg on the opposite side. Complete 10 repetitions total with 5 on each side

Full Plank

Start in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and step your feet back to create a straight line from your head to your toes. Tighten your stomach by engaging your core. Focus on pressing the floor away from you and lifting your shoulder blades up to the sky. Hold for 30 seconds. Remember no locked out elbow joints, and keep your hips inline with your spine.

Downward Dog to Plank

Staying in your high plank position to begin, start to shift your weight back into your heels as you use your core to lift your hips into the air and press your shoulders back towards your feet and inhale. Use your shoulders and abs to draw yourself back to you plank position as you exhale, and repeat for 10 repetitions.

Upright row

Muscles targeted: deltoids (shoulder muscles), latissimus dorsi (lats, or upper back), trapezius, biceps (front of the upper arm)

15 Minute Shoulder Workout for Women - How to do an Upright Row with Dumbbells

How to do a Dumbbell Upright Row:

  1. Start standing with feet parallel, hip distance apart and hold your dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing in towards your hips. Engage your core and slightly bend your knees so that your kneejoints are not locked out. 
  2. From here start lifting the elbows up to shoulder height keeping the elbows wide and drawing your dumbbells towards your shoulders. Squeeze your scapula (shoulder blades) down and back, engaging the rear deltoids. 
  3. Then slowly and with control lower the weights back down towards your hips without letting your shoulders round forward. Repeat making sure that you squeeze the shoulder blades together each time and complete 15 repetitions. 

Front Raise to Side Raise

Muscles targeted: lateral deltoids (side shoulder muscle), and anterior deltoids (front shoulder muscle)

15 Minute Shoulder Workout for Women - How to do a Front Raise to Lateral Raise

How to do a Dumbbell Front Raise to Lateral Raise:

  1. Continue standing with your feet hip distance apart and holding your dumbbells with a palms facing back towards your thighs. Keep your elbows slightly bent and keep your core tight.
  2. For the front raise start lifting your arms straight in front of you to shoulder height. Make sure to keep a slight Bend in the elbows the entire time and think of lengthening your arms in front of you while still keeping the shoulders drawing down. slowly and with control lower the arms back down to your starting position. 
  3. Now for your side raise, rotate the palms so that your knuckles are facing outward and palms facing The midline of your body. raise the arms out to the side, still with a slight Bend in the elbows and making sure you can see your hands in your side view. lower the arms back down and rotate the palms to face back to the original starting position. This will complete one repetition.
  4. Complete 10 reps total to the front and to the side. always making sure to keep the shoulder blades drawing down your back and your core tight.

Arnold Press

Muscles targeted: posterior deltoids, lateral deltoids, and anterior deltoids (all three shoulder muscles), biceps, chest, and stabilizing muscles in the shoulder joint and rotator cuff

15 Minute Shoulder Workout for Women - How to do an Arnold Press with Dumbbells

How to do a Dumbbell Arnold Press:

  1. Have your feet hip distance apart and hold on to your dumbbells. Bend your elbows and bring your arms up so that your elbows are shoulder height. Now rotate your palms back towards your face, And you should have a 90-degree Bend in your elbows. This is your starting position.
  2. Now from here open your elbows out wide as you rotate your palms to face forward. Then once your arms are open to a goal post position press the arms over head. Reverse the movement as you bend your elbows and lower the arms back to your goal post, then bring me elbows back shoulder width apart as you rotate the palms to face back.
  3. Repeat opening the arms back out then into an overhead press and back down. Complete 15 repetitions.


Shoulder Stretch

Place your weights down and off to the side and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your right arm across your chest and use your left arm to gently pull on your forearm to increase the stretch. Be sure to keep both shoulders pulling down, and focus on feeling the stretch between your shoulder blades. Hold for 15-20 seconds and then switch sides.

Chest Stretch with Forward Fold

Now step your feet out wider than shoulder-width apart. Bring both hands behind your back and clasp your hands together. Lift both hands up behind you to feel a stretch in your chest. Then slowly hinge forward at your hips to bring your head down towards your mat into a wide forward fold. Hold for 15-30 seconds focusing on stretching your chest, shoulders, and legs. Bring your hands to your low back, and release the clasp bring ing your arms to the floor. Then slowly roll up to standing.



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