7 Effective Shoulder Workouts With Barbell

7 Effective Shoulder Workouts With Barbell


January 20, 2022

The muscles of the shoulders might not be as large as those of the chest and back, but you shouldn’t ignore shoulder training if you want to have broad and stronger shoulders.

One of the best ways to exercise your shoulders is to use barbells.

That’s why we’ve listed some of the most effective shoulder workouts with barbells that can help you build impressive shoulders and improve stability, too.

You’ll also find great options for strengthening your shoulders if you have mobility issues or you’re coming back from a shoulder injury.

Top 7 Shoulder Workouts with Barbell

#1 Barbell Overhead Press

#1 Barbell Overhead Press

This overhead press variation is one of the most popular shoulder workouts with the barbell because it strengthens all three deltoid muscles.

This is the go-to shoulder exercise for anyone looking to build stronger and bigger shoulders.


You can develop bigger shoulders with this variation of the overhead press because it lets you load heavy.

In addition, doing a stronger overhead press is a great way to boost your bench press since the two exercises work the same set of muscles.

How to Do the Barbell Overhead Press

  • Keep your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart as you grab the barbell with a double overhand grip
  • Slowly bring the weight to rest on your front delts
  • Engage your core and keep your lower body still
  • Press upwards by contracting your delts
  • Press up until the barbell is high above your head and your arms are locked
  • Slowly lower the barbell to the starting position
  • Repeat the movement while maintaining a tight core

#2 Barbell Front Raise

7 Effective Shoulder Workouts With Barbell

Front raises are commonly performed with dumbbells, but this barbell variation is also highly effective and will give you the same benefits.

The weight training exercise isolates your shoulder muscles. And because you are using a barbell instead of dumbbells, the weight is evenly distributed and the range of motion is comparatively shorter.


The front raise workout isolates activate the front delts and enhance the tone and size of your shoulders.

Because the movement requires the shoulder joint to go through a full range of motion, it improves mobility.

And that’s not all.

Your shoulder flexor muscles and pectoralis major are engaged as you perform this workout.

How to Do the Front Raise

  • Keeping your hands shoulder-width apart, grab a barbell with your palms facing towards you
  • Stand upright with your back straight and the barbell hanging in front of your thighs
  • Engage your core and keep your arms straight as you contract your front delts and slowly raise the barbell
  • Raise the weight until your arms are parallel to the ground
  • Hold for a brief moment at the up position
  • Slowly lower the barbell to the starting position
  • Repeat

#3 Half-Kneeling Landmine Press

7 Effective Shoulder Workouts With Barbell

Don’t have the flexibility or mobility for overhead press exercises? The half-kneeling landmine press is a great alternative.

It is a mix between a horizontal and vertical movement, making it also an ideal workout if you’re recovering from a shoulder injury.


First, the exercise can help you get overhead if your shoulder mobility is limited.

Also, the unilateral pressing in this exercise can help improve any strength imbalances you might have.

Plus, the workout can improve anti-rotational strength, hip mobility, and core stability.

How to Do the Half-Kneeling Landmine Press

  • Setup the barbell in a landmine position and go on one knee in front of the barbell, making sure your knee is underneath your hip and your ankle is properly positioned under your knee
  • Grab the top of the barbell in the hand closest to your back leg, ensuring the barbell is at shoulder height
  • Press the barbell up toward the ceiling at an angle of about 45 degrees and lock out your arm
  • Slowly lower the barbell to the starting position
  • Repeat

#4 Landmine Face Pull

7 Effective Shoulder Workouts With Barbell

If you are looking for one shoulder exercise that targets multiple muscles at the same time, the landmine face pull is a great option.

It can build muscle mass, power, and strength.


You are not only working your shoulder muscles with the landmine face pull. You get to also work the chest, triceps, and biceps since it involves using both hands to pull the barbell up.

It also improves the spinal erectors, lats, and upper body posterior chain.

How to Do the Landmine Face Pull

  • Stabilize one end of the bar in a corner so it doesn’t move (securing it in a landmine attachment is ideal)
  • Straddle the bar so that you are facing the free end of the bar where you will lift
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and hind at the waist
  • Maintain a straight spine while keeping your back parallel to the floor
  • Using both hands, grab the top of the free side of the bar, making sure that when you lift the bar, your hands will be right beneath your face
  • Drive your elbows up and slightly back as your retract your rear delts to bring the top of the barbell directly under your forehead
  • Give your rear delts a squeeze and slowly lower the weight to the starting position
  • Repeat
  • If done correctly, you should feel a pinch in your shoulder blades as you perform this exercise.

#5 Push Press

#5 Push Press

This exercise involves the extension of the ankles, knees, and hips together with a lower-body dip.

Using this triple extension and the lower-body dip, the push press works similar to the barbell overhead press.

But this variation has one clear advantage: it lets you lift more weight overhead than the regular barbell overhead press. And that’s all thanks to the lower body dip.


First, the push press gives your quads and glutes plenty of muscle-building stimulus and strength.

That’s because of the triple extension movement involved in driving the weight overhead.

What’s more, the push press exercise allows you to add more weight to the bar.

Overall, this is a great exercise to add to your routine if you are looking to train as an overhead athlete (for example, a throwing athlete or an Olympic lifter).

How to Do the Push Press

  • Hold the bar using a full grip with your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and torso upright
  • Slowly bring the weight to rest on your torso with your elbow slightly in front of the barbell
  • Engage your core and dip straight downward to about 4 to 6 inches, keeping your knees over your toes
  • Extend your hips and legs quickly as you push your torso and chest upward to press the barbell up
  • Fully extend your arms until lockout
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Repeat

#6 Landmine Bent Arm Side Raise

7 Effective Shoulder Workouts With Barbell

Generally, landmine presses are a good way to improve upper body strength. This variation lets you work your shoulder muscles using a different angle of movement.

In this workout, you will begin from either your right or left side using only one hand at a time to do the raises.

And since it is a single-arm shoulder workout, it works the triceps and biceps in the arms in addition to the shoulder muscles.


In addition to increasing muscle mass, this unilateral exercise can help to strengthen your shoulder muscles if you are recovering from a shoulder injury.

Also, this is one of the most effective ways to correct any strength imbalances or body misalignments you may have.

How to Do the Landmine Bent Arm Side Raise

  • Secure the barbell in a landmine position
  • Stand at the left of the barbell and, with your palms facing inwards, hold the top of the bar with your right hand
  • Engage your core and contract the  deltoid of your right arm as you raise the bar to shoulder level
  • Hold for a brief moment at the top position
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds
  • Do the same for your left side

#7 Behind the Neck Shoulder Press

7 Effective Shoulder Workouts With Barbell

This overhead press variation is great for targeting the shoulders and is particularly a good workout for experienced or professional weightlifters.

Unfortunately, it is one of the most controversial workouts. It is common for many people to think of the Behind the Neck Shoulder Press as dangerous.

But like other weightlifting exercises, there is nothing risky about it if you maintain good form when performing it.

That being said, this exercise isn’t suitable for everyone.

You might want to do the other shoulder workouts with barbell on this list if you are completely new to lifting weights.

You can increase upper body strength and build bigger shoulders even if you skip this workout, so don’t sweat it if you find the position too awkward or if you want to go heavy.


This is a great move for stabilizing the shoulder joint and improving mobility. That’s because it works the rotator cuff muscles.

This helps you build stronger shoulders so you can better perform lifts, pulls, pushes, and punches.

In addition to targeting the shoulders, the exercise improves upper body strength by working the upper arms and upper back.

How to Do the Behind the Neck Shoulder Press

  • Keep your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart as you grab the barbell with a double overhand grip
  • Slowly bring the barbell to rest slightly above your front delts
  • Engage your core and press the barbell above your head as you contract your delts but don’t lock out your arms
  • Bring the barbell behind your head
  • Once again, contract your deltoids as you return the barbell to the front of your head and to the starting position
  • Repeat

Who Should Prioritize Shoulder Workouts?

Who Should Prioritize Shoulder Workouts?

Generally, all gym-goers can benefit from doing shoulder workouts with a barbell or even any other free weight available.

However, the following category of gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts can get plenty of benefits by prioritizing shoulder workouts.

Strength Athletes

Training the shoulders is crucial to improving the stability necessary for strength athletes.

Stability is necessary, no matter the type of move you plan to do that involves shoulder mobility, including bench, deadlift, squat, or snatch.

For this reason, strength athletes must focus on shoulder exercises that work all three muscles of the shoulder. This will significantly improve stability.

But that’s not all.

Regularly performing balanced shoulder training can reduce your risk of injury and also improve your overall performance.


Shoulder training is a must for bodybuilders, at least, for those who want to reduce the risks of shoulder injuries during rigorous training.

Besides, well-defined, strong, and well-developed shoulders can enhance your physique and improve your chances of winning a bodybuilding show.

General Lifters

While many people would like broad, strong, and great-looking shoulders, training the shoulders can improve your overall structure.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a specific fitness goal or simply looking to stay fit, working the shoulder muscles can be particularly beneficial if you sit for long periods at a time.

In addition to this, regular shoulder training can create more stability and strengthen the muscles around your shoulder.

That means you are less likely to sustain an injury during other weight or strength workouts.

Final Thoughts

While you can do shoulder workouts with barbells for increased stability, more strength, and size, it is important to keep your fitness and experience level in mind when performing these exercises.

You already know that muscles don’t grow bigger and stronger overnight, so there is really no point overdoing any shoulder exercise.

Instead, do the number of reps and sets that you know you can safely perform.

Also, increase your weight gradually. Drastic changes can increase your risks of injury and that’s definitely not what you want.



Justin Rodriguez has spent most of his adult life inspiring people to take their fitness more seriously. He is not new to the business of providing practical solutions for those looking to set and smash their fitness goals. From sharing professional tips and tricks to recommending awesome products, Justin Rodriguez helps just about anyone who wants to get the best out of their workout routines.Having gathered a lot of experience both in and outside the gym, Justin Rodriguez uses DSW Fitness as a medium to show you exactly how to get that great-looking body with toned muscles you’ve always wanted.