10 Best Single Arm Shoulder Exercises To Build Deltoids

If you are looking for the best single arm shoulder exercises, then you have come to the right place. Here we will discuss unilateral shoulder exercises.

Having well-defined shoulders not only makes you look better overall, but also helps you build strength and stability in your upper body.

So whether you are a beginner or an experienced lifter, read on to learn more about unilateral shoulder exercises and how they can help you to build strong, balanced shoulders.

Here we cover the following topics:

Shoulder Muscle (Deltoid Anatomy)

In fitness, “shoulder exercises” refers to resistance exercises that target the deltoid muscle.

The deltoid is the superficial muscle that forms the rounded contour of your shoulder. While the deltoid is technically a single muscle, anatomically speaking it has three distinct sets of muscles fibers and muscle bellies, which are referred to as “heads.

The deltoid muscle of the shoulder consists of three separate sections or heads.

Shoulder Anatomy
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Top 10 Single Arm Shoulder Exercises

Here are the best Shoulder exercises that you can do with one arm.

It is the best unilateral exercise that increases shoulder strength, stability, and symmetry.

1. Dumbbell One Arm Shoulder Press

If you’re looking for straightforward single arm shoulder exercises to add to your routine, dumbbell one-arm shoulder press, is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is a unilateral exercise that increases shoulder strength, stability, and symmetry.

Performing the exercise with one arm at a time will actively engage the core throughout the range of motion.

One Arm Shoulder Press

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your one hand.
  2. Extend through your elbow to lift the dumbbell directly above you.
  3. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  4. After completing all reps on the right side, repeat on the left side. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Don’t allow your torso to sway to one side or the other as you press the weight overhead.

2. One-Arm Dumbbell Upright Row

Upright Row is one of the excellent single arm shoulder exercises to build huge Trapezius muscles.

One arm dumbbell upright row is the unilateral variation on the dumbbell upright.

One Arm Dumbbell Shrug

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand at your side.
  3. Slowly shrug your left shoulder up toward your ear.
  4. At the top, pause for a moment and contract the muscles.
  5. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  6. After completing all reps on the left side, repeat on the right side. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Keep your back straight and core tight.
Know More: Best Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises & Workouts For Mass

3. The Landmine Overhead Press

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your one arm shoulder workout, why not try the Landmine Press?

It is not a popular exercise, yet it is one of the best single arm shoulder exercises that provides many benefits with regard to progressing your anterior deltoid and upper chest.

The Landmine Chest Press

How To Do

  1. Stand holding the weighted end of the barbell with both hands in front of your chest.
  2. Make sure the barbell is wedged securely in a landmine device or corner.
  3. Your feet should be level and shoulder-width apart.
  4. Press the weight up with both hands until your arms are extended, then bring it back down slowly.

Tips

  • Hold a neutral spine throughout the movement to prevent injury.

4. Side-Lying Rear Delt Fly

The side-lying rear delt fly is a shoulder exercise used to target the rear delts.

It is a great unilateral exercise used to target a smaller and often lagging muscle group.

Side-Lying Rear Delt Fly

How To Do

  1. Lie on the floor on your right side, and grasp the dumbbell with your left hand using a neutral grip.
  2. Keeping your elbow fixed and your body still, exhale as you raise the dumbbell from the floor until it is almost vertical.
  3. Hold for a count of two.
  4. Inhale as you reverse the movement and lower the dumbbell towards the starting position, stopping before the dumbbell touches the floor.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  6. Repeat the exercise on your opposite side with your right arm.

Tips

  • Do not allow the dumbbell to touch the floor.
  • Allow the arms to move freely, but don’t lock out the elbows.

5. Single Arm Cable Front Raise

The front raise is one of the most common shoulder exercises you’ll see being done because it is effective in building the front delts.

By performing the single arm cable front raise exercise unilaterally, you’ll be able to focus on one side at a time.

Single Arm Cable Front-Raise

How To Do

  1. Attach a single grip handle to a low pulley cable machine.
  2. Stand facing away from the machine and grip the handle with your right hand using an overhand grip.
  3. Keeping your elbow very slightly flexed, exhale as you raise the stirrup (handle) forward and upward in a semicircular motion until your arm is above horizontal.
  4. Hold for a count of two.
  5. Inhale as you slowly reverse the motion and lower the stirrup to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.

Tips

  • This is an isolation exercise, so the focus should be on form and muscle contraction, not weight.
  • Keep your body still. Only your arm should move.
Know More: Best cable shoulder Workout for 3D Shoulders

6. One Arm Cable Lateral Raise

The one-arm cable lateral raise is an isolated shoulder exercise that targets the deltoids, while increasing stability in both the wrists and the core.

Cable lateral raise is a shoulder exercise that works the lateral head of the deltoid muscle, which is the rounded muscle at the very top of each shoulder.

You can use both arms while performing the exercise, but it’s often recommended to use just one to add more difficulty to your workout and stimulate more gains.

One Arm Cable Lateral Raise

How To Do

  1. Stand next to a cable pulley machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and the handle attachment adjusted to the lowest setting.
  2. Grab the handle and stand straight up with your arm fully extended and feet facing forward.
  3. Maintaining a slight bend in your working elbow, raise your arm up to shoulder height.
  4. Hold for a second, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

Tips

  • Keep your torso still, your back straight, and your elbow slightly bent.
  • Don’t just swing your arms. Keep controlled motion throughout the exercise.

7. Cable Twisting Overhead Press

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective unilateral shoulder exercise, try the cable twisting overhead press.

The twisting cable overhead press is a very effective shoulder press variation which works the anterior (front) deltoids.

The twisting cable overhead press is brilliant for developing unilateral upper-body strength, as well as improving your balance and the strength and stability of your core.

Cable Twisting Overhead Press

How To Do

  1. Attach a stirrup (handle) to a low or waist-high pulley. Grasp the stirrup with one hand.
  2. Spread your legs and squat a little, keeping your torso upright.
  3. Position the stirrup to the side of your body, with your elbow flexed and tucked in to your side.
  4. Exhale as you straighten your legs, twist your body, and press the stirrup diagonally upward and away from the pulley.
  5. Hold for a count of two. Inhale as you reverse the motion and return your body and the stirrup to the starting position.
  6. Complete the desired number of reps with your right arm. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.

Tips

  • You can place your free hand on your hip. You can squat as deep as you want to.
  • Furthermore, you can only perform this exercise with one arm at a time.

8. Single Arm Arnold Press

The single arm Arnold press is a compound exercise that works the deltoids, trapezius, and rotator cuff muscles. It is a variation of the traditional Arnold press, which is performed with both arms.

The single arm version allows you to focus on each shoulder individually, which can help to prevent imbalances and improve overall strength.

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing your body.
  2. Slowly rotate one arm outward, so your palm faces forward, while pressing the dumbbell overhead.
  3. Fully extend your arm without locking the elbow, and pause briefly at the top.
  4. Reverse the motion, rotating the arm back to the starting position while lowering the dumbbell.
  5. Repeat on the other arm, and alternate for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Start with a light weight and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
  • Avoid swinging the dumbbell up and down.
  • Keep your back straight, shoulders down, and core engaged.

9. One Arm Dumbbell Bent Over Lateral Raise

The One-Arm dumbbell bent over lateral raise is a unilateral variation of the bent over lateral raise that focuses on targeting one side of the posterior deltoid.

Unilateral exercises often demand greater focus and coordination. This allows you to connect better with your muscles, leading to improved muscle activation and engagement.

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell in one hand, bend at the hips and knees until your torso is parallel to the floor.
  2. For stability, grasp something stable with your free hand.
  3. The dumbbells should be hanging straight down in front of you, with your palm facing inward (neutral grip)
  4. Keep your elbow slightly bent and raise the dumbbell out to the side until it is level with your shoulders.
  5. Hold for a count of two and then slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Practice good form with a light weight. Keep strict form to isolate the rear delts.
  • Do not swing the dumbbells upward. Keep your back straight and your body still.
  • Your arms should be parallel to your shoulders.

10. One Arm kettlebell Swing

The one arm kettlebell swing is a compound exercise that works the hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, and shoulders.

It involves swinging a kettlebell with one arm, making it a challenging and effective full-body workout.

The one arm kettlebell swing can help to increase grip strength. This is important for other exercises, such as pull-ups and deadlifts.

One Arm kettlebell Swing

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward.
  2. Hold a kettlebell in your right hand with an overhand grip.
  3. Hinge at the hips and slightly bend your knees to grip the kettlebell handle with one hand.
  4. Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, maintaining a neutral spine and a firm grip.
  5. Explosively thrust your hips forward while swinging the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
  6. Allow the kettlebell to swing back down between your legs, and immediately go into the next repetition.

Set, Reps And Frequency

The number of reps you should do depends on your goals, whether they are to increase strength or build muscle mass and endurance.

  • For muscle growth, it is best to do for around 6–12 reps per set.
  • For strength, around 3–8 reps per set are recommended.
  • To build Muscle Endurance, do 15-20+ reps per set.

Here are some general guidelines for the incline curl exercise, including sets, reps, and frequency, in order to enhance muscle mass

Sets

  • Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
  • Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
  • Advanced: ~20 sets per week.

Add Single Arm Shoulder Exercises Into Your Workout Routine

They can be incorporated into your workout routine in a variety of ways. Here are some options:

  1. As a standalone exercise: Do on 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  2. As part of a shoulder workout: Do them along with other shoulder exercises.
  3. As part of a full-body workout: Do them with other compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

Sample Workout Routine

1. Shoulder-Focused Workout Routine

ExerciseSetsReps
Rear Delt Fly410-12
Seated Shoulder Press38-10
One Arm Lateral Raises312-15
Front Raises310-12
Upright Row312-15

2. Upper Body Strength And Definition Routine

ExerciseSetsReps
Barbell Rows48-10
Pull-Ups38-10
Dumbbell Bench Press38-10
One Arm Shoulder Press312-15
Triceps Pushdowns310-12

3. Full Body Strength And Stability Routine

ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlifts36-8
Squats48-10
Bent-Over Rows38-10
Single Arm Arnold Press312-15
Incline Dumbbell Curl38-10
Plank330 sec

Advantages of Unilateral Shoulder Exercises

Single arm shoulder exercises offer a range of advantages that make them a valuable addition to any fitness routine.

1. Improved Muscle Balance

Single arm exercises address any imbalances between your left and right shoulders. Often, we have a dominant side that can overpower the other during bilateral exercises.

To work each shoulder independently, you can identify and correct these imbalances, leading to more symmetrical and balanced shoulder development.

2. Enhanced Stability and Core Engagement

It challenges your core muscles as they work to stabilize your body and maintain balance. This not only strengthens your core but also translates to improved stability during various functional movements and sports activities.

3. Enhanced Proprioception and Mind-Muscle Connection

Unilateral exercises require greater focus and coordination, leading to better proprioception (awareness of your body’s position in space) and a stronger mind-muscle connection.

This heightened awareness can lead to more controlled and efficient movements during workouts.

4. Functional Benefits

Strong shoulders are crucial for everyday activities like lifting, carrying, and pushing objects. Single arm exercises mimic real-life movements more effectively, improving the functional strength of your shoulders and making everyday tasks easier and safer.

5. Increased Focus on Weak Points

If you have a particular weak point in your shoulders, such as the rear delts or rotator cuff muscles, single arm exercises allow you to give special attention to those areas.

This targeted focus can lead to significant improvements in specific muscle groups.

6. Variety and Versatility

Unilateral shoulder exercises offer a wide range of movements and can be performed with various equipment like dumbbells, resistance bands, and kettlebells. This versatility lets you keep your workouts fresh and interesting, so you don’t get bored.

Conclusion

Single arm shoulder exercises are a great way to build strong, balanced shoulders. They can help to prevent injuries, improve range of motion, and improve posture.

When doing one arm shoulder exercises, it is important to use a weight that is challenging but not too heavy, focus on proper form, and switch sides between sets.

I hope this blog post has helped you to learn more about unilateral shoulder exercises. If you are looking for a challenge, try adding these exercises to your workout routine today.

Shoulder Workout With ONLY ONE DUMBBELL

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