gir with dumbells doing shoulder exercise

Sometimes you want to workout, but don’t want to do standing exercises. Whether you’re dealing with leg injuries or simply want a change of pace, there are a number of reasons why you might want exercises you can do while sitting. Today we’re going to talk about some different shoulder exercises that you can do while sitting. These moves can help you to improve your shoulder strength, mobility, and health without needing to be in a standing position.

1. Shoulder Warmup

The shoulder is a unique joint in the body. It is extremely flexible and versatile, but it can also be fairly prone to injury. Before you do any shoulder workout, you should warm up the muscles to make sure that they’re ready for your shoulder exercises.

There are a lot of different warmup exercises you can do while sitting: shoulder rotations, corkscrew rotations, and band pull-aparts, just to name a few. Try to move your shoulders through their full range of motion and to make sure that they are tracking healthily.

Strength coach Mike Hanley has put together an absolutely fabulous shoulder warmup that can really help prepare you to do your shoulder exercises. Although he performs the motions standing, most of them can also be performed while sitting. Going carefully through this warmup will help you to be ready to work out and to see where you have tight or weak spots in your shoulder muscles. Check out the list of shoulder exercises and a video here.

2. Shoulder Press

Once you’ve warmed up, you’re ready to start working! The shoulder press is one of the most widely known shoulder exercises, and it’s also a great way to exercise while sitting down. You can perform this exercise with dumbbells, resistance bands, or (if you’re at the gym) a shoulder press machine.

As you perform the shoulder press, it is important to do it with proper form. If this shoulder exercise is performed properly, it can help you to be stronger and healthier. However, if you do it in improper form, it can lead to pain and injury.

To perform this exercise with dumbbells, hold a weight in each hand and sit with your back firmly placed against support. Rest the dumbbells on your thighs, then raise them to your shoulder heights one at a time. You can use your thighs to help push them upward. With your hands rotated forward, exhale as you press the dumbbells up. Let the dumbbells gently touch at the top, then lower them while inhaling.

3. Front Dumbbell Raise

The front dumbbell raise is a great way to work the front of your shoulder (the anterior deltoid). In the front raise, you will grip a dumbbell in each hand and slowly raise them in front of you to shoulder height. Your arms will remain straight throughout the motion. Because you will be working relatively small muscles in this shoulder exercise, you will likely use a much lower weight than in a number of other workouts.

As mentioned before, this exercise primarily works the front of the shoulder. Because muscular balance is one of the major contributors to shoulder health, you should make sure to properly work your rear deltoid as well after performing this exercise. Good options for hitting your rear deltoids include pulling exercises like rows.

4. Lateral Dumbbell Raise

This shoulder exercise is similar to the front raise, but instead of raising the arms to the front, you will lift them to the side. Use low weights and raise them carefully, watching for any feelings of pain or pinching in the shoulders. Keep your movement controlled and smooth throughout, exhaling while lifting and inhaling while lowering.

5. Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs work the trapezius muscles. To do this exercise while sitting, grab a dumbbell in each hand and then sit with your back straight. Holding the weights tightly, shrug your shoulders up toward your ears. Keep them there for a moment, then relax them downward again. Resist the temptation to bend your arms and let your biceps help with the movement. You will likely be able to use a much higher weight with this exercise than with the lateral or front raise.


While shoulder exercises can be very beneficial if performed correctly, they can also lead to injury if performed incorrectly. If you ever feel pinching or pain during any of these exercises, be very careful. Stop, make sure you are doing the movement correctly, and consider using less weight. It’s far better to work up to a high weight gradually than to try for too much right away and injure yourself in the process. Also, consider speaking with a knowledgeable personal trainer or medical professional regarding any pain or discomfort. Learning the correct way to exercise will save you time, pain, and money in the long run.

About the Author: CHRISTIAN HEFTEL

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