Workout for the Deltoids Without Weights

Pushups on an incline target the deltoids.

Pushups on an incline target the deltoids.

Strong, toned and agile shoulders can be yours, even if you are not a fan of weight lifting. Exercises that use your body as resistance, rather than weights, can be effective for building strength and definition in the deltoids. Located on the back, top and front of your shoulders, the deltoids come into action whenever you raise or extend your arms. Incorporate shoulder exercises into your workout program two or three times per week to keep your deltoids strong.

Bench Wide-Grip Pushup

Assume the top of a pushup position with your hands on top of a flat workout bench rather than the floor. The angle helps to place an emphasis on the deltoids. Position the hands to be slightly wider than shoulder width. Balance on the balls of your feet and separate your feet to hip width.

Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your lower back. Push the shoulders down and away from your ears as you elongate the spine. Avoid arching the lower back or hunching the upper back. There should be one straight line from your neck to your heels.

Bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your torso toward the bench. Stop descending when the upper arms are parallel to the bench. Hold the contraction for two counts.

Push through your hands to straighten your arms and return to starting position. Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

Supine Snow Angel

Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your knees bent. Place your feet flat on the floor approximately 12 to 18 inches in front of your buttocks; you should be able to reach down and touch your heels with your hands.

Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine and press the shoulder blades down your back. Keep the hips, lower and upper back in contact with the mat throughout the exercise.

Place the back of your arms on the floor with your palms facing up. Goal post your arms by bending both elbows to 90 degrees with the upper arms in line with your shoulders and perpendicular to your body and the forearms parallel to your head.

Extend the arms over your head until they are straight. Aim to keep the arms in contact with the floor during the extension. Touch your hands over your head. Keep the shoulders pressing down to keep them from inching up toward your ears. Maintain the abdominal engagement.

Hold the contraction for one count and then slide the arms back to the goal post starting position. Complete three sets of 12 repetitions.

Items you will need

  • Workout bench
  • Exercise mat


  • Plan a rest day in between shoulder workout sessions to allow the deltoids proper time to heal. A sample schedule would be to train the shoulders or Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.


  • Avoid performing repetitions past the point of fatigue, which is when you are not able to complete a rep with proper form.
  • Consult a physician before starting a new exercise program.

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About the Author

Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

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