Weight Loss Made Practical » Exercise

5 Shoulder Exercises With A Barbell

Barbell workouts can offer you impressive benefits for many muscles but what are some shoulder exercises you can do with a barbell?

A barbell is a long bar that can hold weight plates. It is one of the most popular types of gym equipment, and for a good reason. Barbells can play a role in many exercises for a wide variety of muscles, including your shoulder muscles.

Shoulder exercises are often done with dumbbells and for a good reason. They offer more flexibility when it comes to your grip and movements. If you have dumbbells available you may want to do dumbbell shoulder exercises instead.

That being said, if for any reason you only want to use a barbell you can definitely also do the exercises below.

How heavy your barbell should be, varies from exercise to exercise and individual to individual. If you are not sure which weight would be right for you, you can start with just the bar or no barbell and slowly add weights from there.

Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.

1. Shoulder presses

The shoulder press with a barbell is one of the most popular exercises for growing shoulder muscles. You preferably want a barbell rack at chest height for this shoulder exercise. To do a shoulder press take the following steps:

  1. Find a barbell rack and place the barbell at about chest height. Add the desired number of weight plates. If there are any safety bars you can adjust them to the right height.
  2. Grab the barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing forward.
  3. Unrack the barbell and take a few steps back so that you have room to do the exercise. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width. Hold the barbell at about shoulder height. Your elbows can point slightly more forward than just a horizontal line with your shoulders.
  4. Slowly move the barbell up until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
  5. Lower the barbell back into the position of step 3 in a controlled motion.

The barbell shoulder press mainly works your anterior and medial deltoid muscles, the front and middle part of your main shoulder muscle.

2. Front raises

You can do this next shoulder exercise without a barbell rack. To do a front raise with a barbell take the following steps:

  1. Place a barbell in front of you on the ground. If needed add the desired number of weight plates.
  2. Grab the barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing downward. Stand up straight with your feet at about shoulder width and let your arms hang down for now.
  3. Slowly raise the barbell with stretched arms until your arms are about horizontal.
  4. Lower the barbell back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.

The front raise mainly engages your anterior, your front, deltoids.

3. Shrugs

To do a shrug take the following steps:

  1. Place a barbell in front of you on the ground. If needed add the desired number of weight plates.
  2. Grab the barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing downward. Stand up straight with your feet at about shoulder width and let your arms hang down for now. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
  3. Raise your shoulders as far as you can in a controlled manner.
  4. Slowly lower your shoulders again.

The shrug does not look like the most impressive motion but this barbell exercise can be great to help you improve your trap muscles.

4. Upright rows

As the name implies the upright row is similar to a resistance training row but standing up straight. To do an upright row take the following steps:

  1. Place a barbell in front of you on the ground. If needed add the desired number of weight plates.
  2. Grab the barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing downward. Stand up straight with your feet at about shoulder width and let your arms hang down for now. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
  3. Raise the barbell straight upward in a controlled manner until your hands are at about shoulder height.
  4. Slowly lower the barbell back into the position of step 2.

The upright row mainly engages the front and middle heads of the deltoid shoulder muscle.

5. Half-kneeling landmine presses

For this next exercise you need a landmine setup. This is an attachment that secures a barbell at the ground level. The landmine setup opens the door to exercises like the half-kneeling landmine press.

You preferably also want a soft mat to put your knee on during the exercise. To do a half-kneeling landmine press take the following steps:

  1. Set up the landmine with the desired number of plates. Sit on one knee in front of it, your other foot on the ground for stability, with your face toward the landmine.
  2. Grab the end of the barbell with one hand with a neutral grip, so hand palm pointing to the center/upward. The upper arm of the hand with the barbell points slightly forward. The arm is about fully folded and the hand with the barbell is close to your shoulder.
  3. Slowly move the barbell up until your arm is slightly less than stretched.
  4. Lower the barbell back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.

Similar to a few of the other shoulder exercise on this list, the half-kneeling landmine press mainly works your anterior and medial deltoid muscles, the front and middle part of your main shoulder muscle.

Do not forget your rear deltoids

These barbell shoulder exercises don’t include any exercises that mainly engage your rear deltoids. You likely also want to do exercises that focus on this part of the shoulder so that it becomes stronger too.

One of the things your rear deltoids help with is keeping a good posture. If you do not train this part of your shoulders this can lead to slumped shoulders. Especially if you do train your front deltoids.

You can train your rear deltoids with other fitness equipment like dumbbells, the cable machine, kettlebells, or resistance bands.