All Dumbbell Shoulder Workout

I did an all dumbbell shoulder workout this morning and want to share the details with you. First let me go over the benefits of using all dumbbells.

  • Faster workout with dumbbells
  • Dumbbells recruit more muscles (with having to balance the weight)
  • Reduces the risk of injury
  • Better range of motion

I’m going to give you the high level overview of my all dumbbell shoulder workout. After that, I’ll go into detail of each shoulder exercise I did and how to perform them.

Dumbbell Shoulder Workout

  • Dumbbell Shrugs
    • 4 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Arnold Presses
    • 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Lateral Raises
    • 2 sets x 10 reps
  • Bent Over Raises
    • 2 sets x 10 reps
  • Front Raises
    • 2 sets x 10 reps

I started out with the heaviest of exercises. You can usually lift more weight with dumbbell shoulder shrugs than any other shoulder exercise.

Next, I moved on to some Arnold presses. After that, I rested less between sets, doing two sets of three different types of lateral exercises. I essentially hit every angle of my shoulders with this all dumbbell shoulder workout.

Now let’s go over each shoulder exercise in detail.

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Dumbbell Shrugs

Traps are known as a beach muscle. There’s not many functional purposes for those muscles. But let’s be honest, it looks freaking cool to have a huge set of traps siting between you neck and shoulders. Rather than beach muscles, I prefer to call them Hulk muscles.

Though I normally do barbell shrugs for traps (simply because you can really pile on some weight), dumbbell shrugs are just as effective. And of course I wanted to make today an all dumbbell shoulder workout (I actually had the idea for the blog first, so I catered the workout to what I wanted to write about today).

Dumbbells give you a better range of motion for shrugs and don’t involve your lower back as much as doing barbell shrugs. They secret to building your traps with dumbbell shrugs is to slow those reps down and flex your traps at the peak of each rep.

Seated Dumbbell Arnold Presses

Ok, so I’m biased to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid (this was back in his hit-movie days, and he was still active in bodybuilding).

Anyway, Arnold presses are basically a modified version of seated dumbbell presses for shoulders. The twist (and there’s a literal twist here) is that you start by holding the dumbbells in front of your chest with your palms facing you. As you press the weight up over your head, you twist your wrists. By the time you reach the top of the rep, your wrists should be facing away from you (opposite of how you started).

This exercise is a must to add to any shoulder workout, whether it’s a dumbbell-only shoulder workout or not. You can’t handle as much weight with these as with regular dumbbell presses. But the benefits are far great with Arnold presses, in my opinion. You get a deeper burn and working multiple parts of your shoulders.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises


*Had to use an older pic for this one!

I think lateral raises may be one of the most underrated shoulder exercises for mass. Whereas it’s not a compound exercise, you can build rock-hard, round delts with lateral raises. And if you do them right (aka with intensity), your delts will be burning.

There are a few ways you can perform lateral raises. I see some that hold the dumbbells straight out. I prefer to have a slight bend in my elbows. To me, this works a greater part of your shoulders. You definitely want to take your time on your reps. In other words, don’t speed through them. The slower you lower the weight, the more resistance you put on the muscle, and this is one of those cases where those negative reps are extremely effective.

Rear Lateral Raises

This is a variation of lateral raises, but you’re doing them bent-over. Some will rest their forehead on an incline bench (this helps stabilize the lower back).

This exercise works your rear delts. To me, this is an underworked part of the shoulders and you can’t have too much rear delts. So this is something I do not skip.

You’ll also see people working rear delts on the flye machine for chest (also called reverse pec-dec). Although I’ll use this machine at times, I prefer bent over dumbbell raises as you work more muscle fibers with free weights.

Dumbbell Front Raises

The last exercise in my all dumbbell shoulder workout is front raises. I’m not a big fan of this exercise. In all honesty, I did it just so that I could add it to this workout blog! So yes, I did it just for you!! Lol!

But seriously, I rarely do front raises. I’m not saying don’t do them. I just feel I get enough front delts work on chest day as I do a lot of incline movements. Overall, they’re a great exercise.

I will say this. Don’t try to go too heavy on front raises. You’ll end up doing more harm than good. This is a super-isolated exercise. Drop the weight and force your muscles to work throughout each rep; don’t just go through the motions.

Building Big Shoulders with Dumbbells

I enjoy this workout. Dumbbells allow you to move pretty quick as there no set up of loading plates or adjustment equipment. You simply grab some dumbbells and go to town. And I feel a better burn from most dumbbell exercises in general.

Try this all dumbbell shoulder workout on your next shoulder day. Let me know what you think!

Train with Passion,


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