5 Best Shoulder Exercises for Women

5 Minute Workouts, Fitness, Strength Workouts, Upper Body Workouts, Workouts, Workouts by Length

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // October 20, 2021

It may not be the most popular body part to train, but strong, toned shoulders can make a world of difference for your overall arm strength. These shoulder exercises for women are designed to strengthen and tone your upper arms and with a little hard work and dedication, you’ll see a difference. Add these five moves a couple of times a week into your workouts and see if you don’t notice a new shape taking over your top half.

Watch me demonstrate this 5-minute upper body sculpted shoulder workout in the video below or check out the shoulder exercises underneath it for full descriptions and images! 

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What Weights Should I Use For These Shoulder Exercises?

While some of the shoulder exercises below are bodyweight, several of them use free weights. We recommend a light to medium pair of dumbbells. Start slow if you’re new to strength training, but make sure you’re choosing an amount that challenges you. This might be 5, 10, or 15 pounds depending on your level of experience.

Best Shoulder Exercises For Women

Here are our favorite shoulder exercises for women.

  1. Lateral Raise
  2. Shoulder Front Raise
  3. Star Plank
  4. Shoulder Overhead Press
  5. Reverse Tabletop

See below for full descriptions of each exercise. Here’s the plan:

  • You will need a light to medium pair of dumbbells. Of course, as you get stronger, increase the weight. Just make sure to keep good form as instructed!
  • Try each move for the number of reps listed. Rest for 30 seconds at the end of all the exercises.
  • For best results, try it three times through, and you’ll be prepared to carry the weight of the world on your sculpted shoulders in no time!

Lateral Raise


Chris Freytag demonstrating the best shoulder exercises: lateral raise

A) Standing upright with your arms at your side palms facing in.

B) Keep a slight bend in elbow,  lift your arms to the side until they are parallel to the floor, and return back to the starting position with control.

Perform 10-12 reps slowly.

Shoulder Front Raise

Chris Freytag demonstrating a shoulder front raise

A) Stand with feet together dumbbells resting in front of thighs keeping abdominals tight, and drawing your shoulders down in the back.

B) Lift dumbbells to shoulder height slowly and return back down with control. Avoid swinging.

Perform 10-12 reps slowly.

Star Plank

Chris Freytag demonstrating the best shoulder exercises: full star plank

A) Begin lying on the floor with your hand on the floor, and shoulder stacked over the hand. Legs are long with feet stacked on top on each other.

B) Lift your body into a side plank position, keeping your abdominals engaged and your feet stacked. Next, raise the uppermost leg into the air, keeping it straight. Hold this position then repeat on the other side.

Hold for 30 seconds each side.  Progress to a longer hold time as you get stronger.

Shoulder Overhead Press


Chris Freytag demonstrating a Shoulder Overhead Press

A) Start with feet hip distance apart. Bring elbows out to the side creating a goal post position with arms, dumbbells are at the side of the head, and abdominals are engaged

B) Press arms straight up working the shoulders and return to starting position with control.

Perform 12-15 reps.

Reverse Table Top Plank


Chris Freytag demonstrating the best shoulder exercises: reverse table top plank

A) Start seated with bent knees and feet on the floor directly under knees. Place hands behind your hips slightly wider than shoulders with fingers pointed towards your feet.

B) Lift hips and torso off the floor and gaze up towards the ceiling keeping your neck relaxed. Keep your knees, hips, and shoulders parallel to the mat as you hold your plank.

Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly lower to the ground.

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