Building well-defined shoulders isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s also about enhancing strength and stability. Most shoulder workouts focus on the basics like the military press or dumbbell raises, but incorporating unusual exercises can target the muscles differently, leading to better growth and functional strength.

Here are five unusual exercises that can help you build attractive shoulders, backed by science.

1. Landmine Press

What is the Landmine Press?

The Landmine Press involves pressing a barbell anchored at one end. This exercise is excellent for targeting the deltoids and enhancing shoulder stability. Unlike traditional overhead presses, the landmine press allows for a more natural pressing motion, reducing strain on the shoulder joints.

Why It Works

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the landmine press significantly activates the deltoid muscles while reducing the risk of shoulder impingement (source: JSCR). This makes it an excellent alternative for those who struggle with shoulder pain during conventional pressing movements.

How to Do It

  1. Anchor one end of a barbell on the floor.
  2. Hold the free end with both hands at chest level.
  3. Press the barbell upward in an arc, fully extending your arms.
  4. Lower back to the starting position with control.

2. Face Pulls

What are Face Pulls?

Face pulls are performed using a cable machine or resistance bands, focusing on the posterior deltoids, traps, and rhomboids. This exercise is crucial for balancing shoulder development and preventing injuries by strengthening the often-neglected rear delts.

Why It Works

Research in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy highlights the importance of strengthening the posterior deltoids to improve shoulder stability and reduce the risk of shoulder impingements (source: JOSPT). Face pulls directly target these muscles, promoting better posture and balanced shoulder development.

How to Do It

  1. Set a cable machine to face height and attach a rope handle.
  2. Grab the handles with an overhand grip and step back to create tension.
  3. Pull the handles towards your face, flaring your elbows out.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the peak, then return to the start.

3. Turkish Get-Up

What is the Turkish Get-Up?

The Turkish Get-Up is a complex, full-body exercise that begins from a lying position and transitions to standing while holding a kettlebell overhead. It challenges your shoulders, core, and coordination.

Why It Works

A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that the Turkish Get-Up significantly enhances shoulder stability and mobility due to its multi-planar movements and static holds (source: JSCR). This exercise engages the deltoids dynamically and statically, promoting comprehensive shoulder strength.

How to Do It

  1. Lie on your back holding a kettlebell straight up with one arm.
  2. Bend the knee on the same side as the kettlebell.
  3. Push up onto your opposite elbow, then your hand.
  4. Lift your hips, sweep your leg back, and transition to a kneeling position.
  5. Stand up while keeping the kettlebell overhead.
  6. Reverse the steps to return to the starting position.

4. Single-Arm Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press

What is the Single-Arm Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press?

This exercise involves pressing a kettlebell upside down, which demands high levels of shoulder stability and grip strength. The unstable nature of the upside-down kettlebell forces your stabilizing muscles to work harder.

Why It Works

According to research published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, the bottoms-up kettlebell press activates the rotator cuff muscles more effectively than traditional presses, due to the instability of the kettlebell (source: IJSPT). This helps in developing shoulder strength and stability.

How to Do It

  1. Hold a kettlebell upside down by the handle.
  2. Press the kettlebell overhead, keeping your core tight.
  3. Maintain balance and control as you extend your arm fully.
  4. Lower the kettlebell back to the starting position slowly.

5. Around the World

What is Around the World?

Around the World involves moving a weight in a circular motion around your head. This exercise targets the deltoids from multiple angles, enhancing shoulder mobility and strength.

Why It Works

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness published a study showing that multi-directional shoulder exercises, like Around the World, improve deltoid activation and shoulder joint stability (source: JSM). This exercise engages the shoulders through a wide range of motion, promoting balanced muscle development.

How to Do It

  1. Hold a weight plate or dumbbell with both hands.
  2. Start with the weight in front of your chest.
  3. Move the weight in a circular motion around your head, keeping your arms slightly bent.
  4. Complete the circle and return to the starting position.


Incorporating these unusual exercises into your shoulder routine can provide new stimuli for muscle growth, enhance shoulder stability, and prevent injuries. The Landmine Press, Face Pulls, Turkish Get-Up, Single-Arm Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press, and Around the World each offer unique benefits backed by scientific research.

By varying your shoulder workouts with these exercises, you can achieve well-rounded and attractive shoulders while maintaining joint health.


Can these exercises be incorporated into my current shoulder routine?

Absolutely! These exercises can be integrated into your existing shoulder workout routine. For instance, you can replace traditional exercises with one or two of these unusual movements each session. Start with lower weights to master the form and gradually increase the intensity as you become more comfortable.

Are these exercises suitable for beginners?

Yes, these exercises can be modified for beginners. Start with lighter weights and focus on mastering the technique. For example, use a lighter kettlebell for the Turkish Get-Up or practice the Landmine Press with an unloaded barbell to get accustomed to the movement. As you build strength and confidence, you can gradually increase the weight and complexity of the exercises.

How often should I perform these exercises to see results?

For optimal results, incorporate these exercises into your shoulder routine 2-3 times per week. Ensure you allow adequate rest between workouts to prevent overtraining and promote muscle recovery. Consistency is key, so make these exercises a regular part of your fitness regimen for the best outcomes.

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