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Shoulder Workout at Home with ONLY ONE DUMBBELL | Home Gym

In today's article, I share a shoulder workout you can do at home with one dumbbell. Want to do really effective shoulder training in your home gym with minimal equipment? Look no further!

Buying sets of dumbbells is expensive, but with just three individual dumbbells, one light, one medium, and one heavy, or a single powerblock, you can still do really effective workouts. In this series of articles, I’m going to show you single-dumbbell workouts you can do at home for each muscle group to build some serious muscle mass.


  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Egyptian Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  • Dumbbell Reverse Flyes

  • Dumbbell Upright Rows

  • Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

For this exercise, you will need a medium weight.

This exercise targets the entire shoulder. You can perform this exercise either standing or seated. Doing this exercise standing will burn more calories, but I recommend doing it seated. The seated version isolates the shoulders and removes the need to support with the legs and lower back, making it better for building shoulder mass.

If you don’t have a bench, you can use a chair or a couch to perform this exercise seated.

  1. Lift the dumbbell up and let it rest just above your shoulder, palm facing forwards.

  2. Push the weight up above your head, stretching your arm up high just short of fully extending your elbow for a full range of motion.

  3. Lower the dumbbell back down so it rests just above your shoulder.

Make sure you do full reps, all the way up and back down. The greater the range of motion, the more muscle fibres you will use, leading to greater muscle growth in the shoulders.

Egyptian Dumbbell Lateral Raises

For this exercise, you will need a light weight.

This exercise works the lateral head of the deltoid, or the middle section that sits on the side of your shoulder. You can do this exercise standing or seated. Again, doing it seated will put more load on the muscles, but I actually recommend doing the dumbbell lateral raise standing because it allows you to do a very effective variant: the Egyptian lateral raise.

  1. Hold the dumbbell at your side, palm facing towards your body and arm extended, with a slight bend in your elbow.

  2. With your opposite hand, hold onto a solid surface. If you don’t have a rack or a pole, you can use a door frame.

  3. Lean away from the supporting object so that your body is at an angle.

  4. Lift your arm up so that your knuckles are in line with your shoulders and the dumbbell is parallel with the floor. Hold this position at the top for a second and slowly lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.

  5. It’s easy to subconsciously let the trapezius muscle, a large muscle located in the center of your upper back, to take some of the load. To avoid this, stay focused on using your shoulder muscles.

Dumbbell Reverse Flyes

For this exercise, you will need a light weight.

Reverse flyes target the posterior deltoid, located at the back of the shoulder. For many people, this muscle will be undeveloped compared to the other parts of the shoulder. But if you want defined shoulders with large muscle mass, you need to work the posterior deltoids.

This exercise is done from a standing position.

  1. Keep your back straight and bend over so your torso is parallel to the floor.

  2. Look down with your head and neck parallel to the floor. Lifting up your head will put unnecessary strain on your neck.

  3. Your arm should be in front of you, gripping the dumbbell with your palm facing inwards.

  4. Keep your arm extended with a slight bend in the elbow.

  5. Using just your shoulder, lift the dumbbell out and up in a reverse fly motion until it is almost parallel with the floor with your palm facing the floor.

  6. Keep your torso still and your core engaged throughout the movement.

Dumbbell Upright Row

For this exercise, you will need a medium weight.

As well as the lateral deltoid, this exercise also targets the anterior deltoid, or the part of the deltoid on the front of the body. When doing this exercise, make sure not to bring the dumbbell in close to your center of body, as this will train the trapezius instead.

  1. Holding the dumbbell in one hand, stand up straight with the dumbbell resting in front of your thigh and your palm facing downwards.

  2. Engage your shoulders and lift your hand and elbow upwards, keeping your palm facing toward your thigh.

  3. At the top of the movement, when the muscles are fully contracted, the dumbbell in your hand should be in line with your shoulders and facing forwards, with your palm facing down toward the ground. There should almost be a 90-degree bend from the elbow to the shoulder.

  4. Hold this position for a second and return slowly to the starting position.

Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs

For this exercise, you will need a heavy weight.

This exercise trains the trapezius, which is the large muscle in the center of your upper back. If you want to develop the muscles around your neck and between your shoulders, you need to do this exercise.

The reason we train the trapezius muscle after training the shoulder muscles and not your back muscles is because targeting the trapezius muscle only trains the upper trapezius. The upper trapezius acts as a support in the shoulder exercises, and training the trapezius after other shoulder exercises means it is already warmed up. However, training the trapezius after back exercises means it hasn’t had a chance to warmup, making the exercise less effective and creating a greater risk of injury.

  1. Pick up the dumbbell in your hand and hold it next to your thigh, palm facing inwards.

  2. Keep your arm fully extended with your elbow relaxed.

  3. Engage your core and lift the dumbbell as high as you can with your trapezius by shrugging your shoulders up towards your ears.

  4. Hold for a second before lowering the dumbbell back down to the starting position.

  5. Avoid pushing your head forwards. This is a common mistake, and it shortens the movement and makes it less effective.

For effective training at home, contact Tokyo Titan!

I am Tokyo Titan, an internationally-certified bodybuilding specialist personal trainer and nutritionist. Using bodybuilding techniques, together we will create the body that you want in a short amount of time. Lessons are provided in three formats: online, in-person at my private gym in Ota-ku, Tokyo, a few minutes walk from Omori-machi Station on the Keikyu Line, and in-person at a convenient location of your choice. Customers can choose either lesson style or a combination of both to suit their preferences and schedule. As a bilingual Japanese native English speaker, I can provide lessons in either Japanese or English, allowing customers to train both their bodies and their language skills at the same time. For more information, inquire today!


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