15 Best Delt Exercises for Complete Shoulder Development

Do you want to improve the strength and definition of your shoulders? Look no further than deltoid exercises.

The deltoids (commonly known as “delts”) play a crucial role in shoulder strength and mobility.

Whether you are a beginner or an advance, delt exercises will help you get a well-rounded and balanced body.

In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about:

  • What is deltoid muscles
  • Benefit of strengthening the deltoids
  • How to build bigger delts
  • Best delt exercises to build mass and strength
  • Sample workout routine for beginner, intermediate and advance.
Table of Contents

Know About Deltoid Muscles

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

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 anterior deltoid: located at the front of the shoulder and is responsible for flexion and medial rotation of the arm.
  • Lateral deltoid: Located in the middle of the shoulder and is responsible for abduction, or lifting the arm away from the body.
  • Posterior deltoid: Located at the back of the shoulder and is responsible for extension and lateral rotation of the arm.

The deltoids are responsible for shoulder flexion, extension, and abduction.

Shoulder Anatomy

Benefits of Strong Delts

Having strong deltoids can provide several benefits, including:

1. Improved upper body strength

Strong deltoids can enhance overall upper body strength.

It helps you lift heavier weights during exercises like the bench press, overhead press, and pull-ups.

2. Better posture

The deltoids play a crucial role in maintaining good posture by stabilizing the shoulder joint and maintaining it in proper alignment.

3. Increased range of motion

Strong deltoids can improve shoulder mobility and flexibility.

It helps you perform exercises with a wider range of motion.

4. Enhanced athletic performance

The deltoids are essential for many sports and activities, such as swimming, throwing, and grappling.

5. Better aesthetics

A well-developed deltoid can provide an aesthetically look to the upper body, especially when combined with the chest, back, and arms.

6. Improved daily activities

Many daily activities, such as carrying groceries and reaching for items on high shelves, rely on the deltoid.

Strong deltoids can make these activities easier.

How To Build a Bigger Deltoid

Building bigger deltoids, requires a combination of targeted exercises, proper form, adequate rest and recovery, and a balanced nutrition plan.

You can use these tips to build bigger deltoids:

1. Targeted Exercises

Include both compound and isolation exercises that target your deltoids, such as overhead presses, lateral raises, front raises, and reverse flyes.

2. Proper Form

You should use proper form when performing exercises to ensure that you are effectively targeting your deltoids.

3. Progressive Overload

You can challenge your muscles and stimulate growth by increasing the weight or intensity over time.

However, please avoid increasing the weight too quickly, as this could lead to injury.

4. Rest and Recovery

Give your muscles time to recover between workouts.

Aim for 36–48 hours of rest between delt workouts.

5. Balanced Nutrition

Make sure you’re getting enough protein and calories to support muscle growth.

Maintain a balanced diet with lean protein sources, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Best Types of Delt Exercises

You can add a variety of delt exercises to your workout routine.

These exercises can be broadly classified into two categories: compound exercises and isolation exercises.

1. Compound exercises

Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time, which makes them an efficient way to build overall strength and muscle mass.

Here are some examples of compound delt exercises:

  • Shoulder press: Targets the entire shoulder girdle and involves lifting a barbell or dumbbells above your head.
  • Push-ups: This classic exercise works the chest, triceps, and shoulders simultaneously. Variations like pike push-ups and decline push-ups put more emphasis on the shoulders.
  • Clean and press: This exercise combines a power clean (lifting a weight from the floor to shoulder level) with a shoulder press.

2. Isolation exercises

As the name implies, isolation exercises focus specifically on the deltoid muscles.

These exercises can help you achieve more targeted and defined shoulders.

Here are some examples of isolation delt exercises:

Deltoid Exercises For Strengthening Your Shoulder

Now, let’s get into the best delt exercises for strengthening your shoulder using various types of fitness equipment, as well as some bodyweight exercises that you can do at home.

We have divided the delt exercises into several sections, such as:

  • Bodyweight delt exercises at home (No Equipments).
  • Delt exercises with dumbbells.
  • Barbell delt exercises
  • Deltoid exercises with cables.
  • Exercises with a resistance band.

Bodyweight Delt Exercises At Home (No Equipment)

You can simply and effectively train your delt muscle by using these bodyweight exercises at home. You don’t need any pieces of equipment for this as well.

There are many other benefits of training delts at home, such as:

  • No gym members required,
  • Provide more flexibility as you can train as per your schedule,
  • Required limited space.

1. Decline Push-Up

Decline push-ups are a variation of the traditional push-up exercise that can provide an extra challenge and target different muscle groups.

In a decline push-up, your feet are elevated on a platform or bench, and your hands are placed on the ground.

This push-up variation works your upper chest and shoulders and is a great way to build up to the handstand push-up, which is the best bodyweight delt exercise.

Decline Push-Ups

How To Do Decline Push-Up

  1. Place a bench or platform a few feet away from a wall.
  2. Place your feet on the bench or platform and your hands on the ground at shoulder width or slightly wider.
  3. Now raise yourself off the ground, straightening your elbows and your arms.
  4. Raise until your elbows are almost near to locked, and pause for a moment at the top of the movement.
  5. Now lower your body under slow sustained motion, feeling the motion all the way down until your chest is very close to the ground.


  • Keep your core engaged.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement.

Read More: Best Push Ups For Upper Chest To Build Size And Strength

2. Pike Push Up

If you’re looking for a straightforward bodyweight exercise to add to your delt workout routine, pike push-ups are a great staple exercise to get you started.

The Pike Push-up is a variation of the push-up that increases strength and stability in the shoulders and triceps. 

Performing the exercise in a more upright position will target the deltoid more than the chest.

Pike Push Up

How To Do Pike Push-Ups

  1. Start in a standard push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the hips up and back until your body forms an inverted V shape.
  3. Slowly lower the top of your head towards the ground.
  4. Once your head is about to make contact with the ground, pause for a second.
  5. Then slowly push back until your arms are straight, and you’re in the inverted V position.


  • Make sure you maintain control throughout the movement.
  • Keep arms and legs as straight as possible.

3. Handstand Push Up

The handstand push-up, also known as the vertical push-up, is one of the best push-up variations for the delt.

The handstand push-up is the king of all bodyweight delt exercises. It also strengthens your shoulder stabilization muscles and increases the strength of the upper body.

Performing this move requires a lot of balance and strength.

Handstand Push Up

How To Do Handstand Push-Ups

  1. Place hands about 6-12 inches away from the wall and slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Make sure palms are facing forward, or slightly turned out 5-10 degrees.
  3. Kick up into a handstand, with your heels touching the wall.
  4. While maintaining this position, lower yourself until the top of your head touches the floor.
  5. Once your head touches the floor, press up with the same tightness you had lowering yourself, until your elbows reach full extension.


  • Not to arch your back and keep contracting your abs.
  • Point your toes, squeeze your glutes, and grip the ground with your fingertips for a better feeling of stability.

Related Posts: 21 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises: No Equipment

Delt Exercises With Dumbbells

There are many advantages to doing delt exercises using dumbbells, such as:

  • Dumbbells require more balance than barbells or machines that can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
  • Dumbbell allows unilateral training, increases core stability, and improves muscular imbalances.
  • Deltoid dumbbell exercises variations allow for a greater range of movement (ROM).

4. Arnold Press

The Arnold dumbbell press is an excellent exercise for building delt muscles.

It gives a wide range of motion as you lower the dumbbells well down in front, giving that maximum stretch other shoulder exercises lack.

Arnold Press

How To Do Dumbbell Arnold Press

  1. Stand up straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Raise the dumbbells to shoulder position with palms facing you.
  3. Now press the dumbbells overhead just like dumbbell presses, but twisting them so that palms face forwards at the top of the movement.
  4. Now lower the dumbbells in a reverse movement.
  5. Repeat the desired number of reps.


  • Inhale when you lower the weight and exhale when you lift.
  • Try to maintain a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.

5. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is an isolation exercise that primarily targets the middle delt. 

You may need to use lighter weights with isolation exercises.

As a lighter weight is used, a higher number of reps can be used — anything from 10 to 15 reps.

Try for more variations:

Lateral Raise

How To Do Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  1. Hold one dumbbell in each hand and place it to your side. The palms should be facing each other.
  2. Now bend your elbows and raise the dumbbells to your sides.
  3. Lift them to a point slightly higher than your shoulders.
  4. Hold at the top for a second.
  5. Now lower the dumbbells in a controlled manner back to the starting position.


  • Don’t just swing your arms.
  • Keep controlled motion throughout the exercise.

6. Dumbbell Upright Row

The dumbbell upright row is an isolation exercise that primarily targets the lateral head of the deltoids, as well as the upper trapezius muscles.

Other variations for upright rows to build the delts:

Dumbbell Upright Row

How To Do Dumbbell Upright Row

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, palms facing your thighs.
  2. Stand up straight with your arms fully extended in front of you, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  3. Pull the dumbbells up towards your chest by raising your elbows up and out to the sides, keeping them higher than your forearms.
  4. Hold this position for a second and return slowly to the starting position


  • Remember to exhale while you exert.
  • Keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the movement.

Read More: How To Do Upright Row, The Muscle Worked, Proper Form, Benefits and Its Variations

7. Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

The rear delt row exercise is simple and effective, that is used to target your lats and rear deltoids.

This exercise is very similar to a basic one-arm dumbbell row for the lats, except with a couple of important modifications.

Rear delt rows can also be done with both hands as well.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

How To Do Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

  1. Place your right foot on the floor with your left knee resting on a bench.
  2. Make sure that your body weight is supported by your right arm.
  3. While keeping your back flat, pick up a dumbbell in your right hand.
  4. Begin by leading up with your elbow, bringing your arm up close to your chest, and squeezing with your rear delt muscles.
  5. Immediately after you reach the top of the exercise, stop and hold for a count, then return to your starting position.
  6. Switch sides and repeat.


  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Always use weights that you can comfortably handle.

Know More: Best Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises & Workouts For Mass

Barbell Delt Exercises

Barbells are a valuable tool in the arsenal of a person who wants to gain strength efficiently.

Exercise experts also point to several other benefits of barbells.

  • Barbell exercises can help you strengthen virtually every muscle in your body. 
  • The barbell is a very simple tool, so it is easy to learn the basic lifts quickly

8. Seated Barbell Overhead Press

If you want to add barbell delt exercises to your routine, the overhead press is a great staple exercise to get you started.

The shoulder press is the grand-daddy of all delt exercises for building big, round shoulder muscles.

It has been a favorite delt exercise for bodybuilders because it builds muscle quickly.

Know More: Best Smith Machine Shoulder Exercises And Workout Of All Time

Barbell Shoulder Press

How To Do Seated Barbell Overhead Press

  1. Sit on an exercise bench and grab a bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Bring the bar over and in front of your head, under your chin, and just above your upper chest.
  3. Now Press the bar straight up overhead until your arms are fully extended but not locked out.
  4. Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the desired number of reps.


  • Perform a warm-up with 50% weight for 1–2 sets.
  • Keep your upper arms turned inward to keep your elbows from going out at your sides. 

9. Clean and press

The clean and press is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the deltoids, upper back, legs, and core.

It is a combination of two movements – the clean and the press – and is often used in weightlifting and powerlifting competitions.

The clean and press is an advanced delt exercise that requires proper technique and strength.

Clean and press

How To Do Clean and Press

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell on the ground in front of you.
  2. Bend down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip.
  3. Lift the barbell off the ground by extending your legs and hips.
  4. As the bar reaches hip level, pull it up towards your chest, bending your elbows and flipping your wrists to catch the bar in front of your shoulders in the racked position.
  5. Stand up tall with the barbell racked on your shoulders.
  6. Press the barbell overhead, extending your arms fully.
  7. Lower the barbell back to the starting position.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

10. Landmine Press

When doing a deltoid workout with a barbell, you can add this unilateral exercise to your routine to correct potential imbalances.

The landmine press is not a popular exercise yet provides many benefits in regard to progressing your upper body.

It can be performed in a standing position, which increases core involvement and can improve core stability and strength.

The Landmine Chest Press

How To Do Landmine Shoulder Press

  1. Stand holding the weighted end of the barbell with one hand.
  2. Clean that bar up to shoulder height and tuck your elbow into your side.
  3. Your feet should be level and shoulder-width apart.
  4. Keeping your core braced and knees soft, press the bar up and away from you, fully extending your arm at the top.
  5. Press the weight up with both hands until your arms are extended, then bring it back down slowly.
  6. With control, lower the bar back down to the starting position.


  • Hold a neutral spine throughout the movement to prevent injury.
  • Lean your body forwards slightly and engage your core muscles to help with stabilization.

Related Posts: Barbell Shoulder Exercises To Build Mass And Strength

Cable Delt Exercises To Build Muscle Mass

The cable exercises offer an effective way to train the delt muscle.

Let’s have a look at some other benefits of delt exercises with a cable machine.

  • The cable changes the angle of the movement enough to limit the potential stress on the joints.
  • Cable exercises are more evenly distributed and give you a more constant load on your delt muscles throughout the whole range of motion.
  • It offers almost unmatched versatility because you can change up the load, angle, grip positioning and body positioning easily.
  • The cable setup gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a huge pump.

11. Face Pull

Face pull is a cable machine exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid, side delt and to a lesser degree also targets the biceps, triceps, and traps.

This exercise prevents muscular imbalance and builds overall shoulder strength.

Face Pull

How To Do Face Pull

  1. Grab the ends of the rope attachment using a neutral grip.
  2. Pull the rope toward your face as you spread the ends of the rope, so they end up on the sides of your ears.
  3. Hold this position for a second as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  4. Then slowly return the rope to the start position and repeat for reps.


  • Stand straight with feet in a comfortable, balanced stance.
  • Your upper arms should be straight out to your sides with elbows bent.

12. One-Arm Bent Over Cable Raise

You can do this exercise with one arm at a time, so you can change the range of motion by adjusting the starting or finishing position.

Using this unilateral version makes it possible to raise your hand higher and get a longer stretch at the bottom, thereby generating more work for the rear deltoid.

One-Arm Bent Over Cable Raise

How To Do One-Arm Bent Over Cable Raise

  1. Lean forward at the hips, place your right hand on your thigh and hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your arm extended straight down.
  2. Raise the weight straight out to the side until your arm is parallel with the floor.
  3. Pause for a moment at the top of the motion before slowly lowering the weight back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat with the right arm.


  • Pull slowly so that you are in control of the weight at all times.
  • Remember to exhale while you exert.

13. Cable Twisting Overhead Press

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

It 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 Cable Twisting Overhead Press

  1. Attach a stirrup (handle) to a low or waist-high pulley. Grasp the stirrup with one hand.
  2. Position the stirrup to the side of your body, with your elbow flexed and tucked in to your side.
  3. Press the stirrup diagonally upward and away from the pulley.
  4. Hold for a count of two. Return your body and the stirrup to the starting position.
  5. Complete the desired number of reps with your right arm.
  6. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.


  • You can place your free hand on your hip.

Delt Workout With Resistance Band

There are many benefits to including resistance bands in your delt training.

  • Resistance bands are inexpensive.
  • When you don’t have a lot of room for a home gym, resistance bands are a great option that store in very little space.
  • Resistance bands are an easy way to build delt strength.

14. Resistance Bands Standing Reverse Fly

The resistance bands standing reverse fly is a compound exercise that targets the rear deltoids, upper back, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles

This is a movement that can be done on shoulder day, as it targets the rear delts.

However, we also like to hit it on a back day, as the rear delts often need to double their work each week.

Standing Reverse Fly with Resistance Bands

How To Do Bands Standing Reverse Fly

  1. Place a band around a stationary post, such as a squat rack.
  2. Hold the exercise band in front of you with your hands slightly lower than your shoulders.
  3. Open the arms out to either side, pulling the band apart.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the desired number of reps.


  • Keep your core engaged throughout each set.
  • Try to keep your elbows up, so you can target your upper back and rear delt muscles correctly.

15. Resistance Band Shoulder Press

The resistance band shoulder press is a variation of the shoulder or overhead press.

It’s one of the best exercises for building size and strengthens the delt muscle, and increases the stability in the body.

Resistance Band Shoulder Press

How To Do Band Shoulder Press

  1. Stand on your resistance band with your feet at shoulder width.
  2. Holding both handles, curl up your arms until your hands are in line with your shoulders.
  3. Press your arms straight overhead against the resistance of the band.
  4. Lower your arms until your hands are in line with your shoulders, then repeat


  • Exhale during effort, inhale during rest.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements

Training Volume (Sets And Reps)

Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:


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

When a certain amount of volume stops being effective and your progress stalls, you can add sets to increase volume and use that as a driver of renewed progress. 


The best rep ranges and loads to work with.

  • 6-8 reps with heavy load
  • 8-15 reps with moderate load
  • 15-20+ with light load

The load should bring you to or near failure within the given rep ranges to be effective. 

Training Plan As Per Your Goal

  1. For muscle endurance: Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps, with a moderate amount of resistance.
  2. For muscle strength: Aim for 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps, with a heavier amount of resistance.
  3. For muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size): Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, with a moderate to heavy amount of resistance.

It is always best to start with a lower number of reps and sets, and then gradually increase as your strength improves.

Furthermore, it is important to allow for adequate rest between sets, typically 60-90 seconds.

Incorporating a mix of bodyweight exercises, cardio, and weight training can help to achieve a balanced and well-rounded workout routine.

Workout Samples For Beginner, Intermediate & Advance

This workout contains multiple dumbbell shoulder exercises that are designed to target all the muscles in your shoulder and increase overall muscle mass.

This workout plan is a starting point and can be adjusted based on individual fitness levels and goals.

Deltoid Workout Routine For Beginner

Here’s a beginner delt exercises routine that you can do at home:

Pike Push Ups3-48-10
Dumbbell Shoulder Press3-48
Bent Over Lateral Raise48-10

Workout Routine For Intermediate

Arnold Shoulder Press48-10
Barbell Overhead Press3-46-8
Face Pull410-12
Dumbbell Upright Row38-10

Delt Workout Routine For Advance

Here’s a sample dumbbell only shoulder workout plan for advanced individuals:

Clean And Press48-10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise3-410-12
Front Raise48-10
One-Arm Bent Over Cable Raise310-12
Barbell Upright Row38-10

When designing a workout plan, it’s important to start with a lower training volume and gradually increase it as you build strength and endurance.

As you progress, you can increase the number of reps, sets, and add difficulty to the exercises.

How To Progress Delt Training

Here are some ways to progress your bodyweight shoulder training:

1. Increase the volume

As you progress, you can increase the number of repetitions, sets, or the duration of the exercise.

This will increase the intensity of your workout and challenge your muscles further.

2. Increase the difficulty level

As you progress, you can try more advanced exercises such handstand push-ups, clean and press.

3. Incorporate new exercises

Incorporating new exercises into your routine can help to target different muscle groups and prevent boredom.


Can You Build Delt Without Weights?

Yes, it is possible to build delt without weights.

Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pike push ups, dips, and planks can effectively target the delt and help to build muscle mass and strength.

Do Planks Work Shoulders?

Planks are a great exercise for targeting the shoulders, as well as the core, back and glutes.

Planks work the shoulders by engaging the shoulder blades and the rotator cuff muscles.

By holding the plank position, the shoulders are actively working to hold the body in a stable position, which can help to build muscle and strength.

Do Pushups Work Shoulders?

Yes, push-ups can effectively work the shoulders.

Push-ups target the anterior deltoids, which are the muscles located in the front of the shoulders. They also target the triceps and chest muscles.

As you progress, you can add variation to the push-up such as incline push-upsdecline push-ups, pike push-ups and more to target the shoulders specifically.


Delt exercises are an effective way to build strength and muscle mass in the shoulders.

These exercises are recommended for anyone who wants to build a wider shoulder and gain strength. It is easy to do and requires no more scientific details and fancy equipment.

Add some of these exercises to your delt workout routine.

If you do these exercises consistently, the results will speak by themselves.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your workout!

Bodyweight Delt Workout For Mass And Strength (No Equipment Required)

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