Home Horizontal Shoulder Adduction Exercises

Work your shoulder through horizontal adduction with a pushup.

Work your shoulder through horizontal adduction with a pushup.

Your shoulder is a complex joint that moves in all sorts of directions — up, down, forward, backward and even rotating. Dozens of muscles come together to make these movements happen. Yet that doesn’t mean you need a fancy gym to get a workout. Several exercises, both with weights and without, can work your shoulders in horizontal adduction, all in the comfort of your own home.

Shoulder Articulations

For adduction in the horizontal plane, your upper arm moves toward the center of your body. This also is called transverse adduction. The main muscles responsible for transverse adduction are your pectoralis major with the sternal and clavicle head. These two muscles make up your upper and lower pecs, or chest. For an example of this motion, hold your arms out to your sides so your body forms the letter “T.” Move your upper arm toward your chest so you create a 90-degree angle between your chest and upper arm.

Weight-Free Exercises

Targeting your shoulder in horizontal adduction while at home doesn’t get much easier than a pushup. This basic move comes with several variations, allowing you to keep your body challenged. When starting out, perform a bent-knee or a "girly" pushup. Aim to do 20 reps with proper form. As your muscles get stronger, increase the intensity with a traditional pushup. Once you are able to do 20 traditional pushups, take it one step further by inclining your feet with a bench, ottoman or step.


You don’t need a huge selection of weights to get a killer workout at home; you simply need a pair of dumbbells that tire your muscles by about the 12th repetition. If you don’t have a bench, perform the moves on the floor. You won’t get as broad of a range of motion through your shoulder joint, but you still will strengthen those pec muscles. Strength-training moves that work your shoulder through transverse adduction include the bench press and chest fly. To do the chest fly, lie face up on the floor. Your legs should be parallel with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your chest so your palms face each other. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. Gradually lower the dumbbells in a wide arc until they are level with your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Stability Ball

Several of these exercises can be taken to the next level if you add in a stability ball. The unstable surface of the ball forces your body not only to use your pecs but also to engage your core. Examples of horizontal adduction exercises to do on the ball include the dumbbell press and the pushup. To do the dumbbell press, situate the ball so it is directly under your upper back and shoulders when you are lying face up on the ball. Hold a dumbbell in each hand so your elbows are bent to a 90-degree angle out to your sides and your palms are facing your feet. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and your knees bent to a 90-degree angle. Engage your abs and press the dumbbells upward until your elbows are straight. Return to the starting position and repeat.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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