Isotonic Shoulder Exercises

Tamsen Butler
Woman shoulder

Isotonic exercises work muscle groups through joint movement. Shoulder isotonic exercises, therefore, move the shoulder joint to work the surrounding muscles. There are numerous exercises you may already perform that can be described as isotonic exercises for the shoulder.

Six Isotonic Shoulder Exercises

All these exercises can be performed using dumbbells; you can also perform some using resistance bands, barbells or cables and pulleys. Use a weight that allows you to work your muscles to fatigue, but do not exceed your known level of performance.

Seated Shoulder Press

You can do shoulder presses using dumbbells, resistance bands or barbells. They work the anterior and medial deltoids, as well as the traps and triceps. This exercise can be done seated or standing.

  1. Sit upright on a chair or bench that has back support.
  2. Hold the weight or weights level to your chin with your elbows bent.
  3. Press the weight straight upward until your arms are straight, but your elbows are not locked.
  4. Pause briefly and lower to chin level.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
Seated Shoulder Press

Front Raises

Front raises are done using dumbbells or resistance bands. They work the anterior deltoids; begin this exercise with a lighter weight and build up slowly to avoid injury.

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the weights to either side with your arms straight.
  3. Raise your arms directly out in front of you without bending your elbows.
  4. Pause briefly and lower.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
Front raises

Lateral Raises

Lateral raises are also done with either dumbbells or resistance bands. They work the lateral, or side, deltoid muscles.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the weights at your sides with your arms straight but elbows unlocked.
  3. Raise the weights equally out to either side until they are shoulder height.
  4. Pause and lower.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
Lateral raises

Kickbacks

Kickbacks are performed using dumbbells. They work the posterior deltoid muscles.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Bend over at the waist so your upper body is parallel to the ground.
  3. Hold the weights in each hand and raise them with straight arms up behind you.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you raise the weights.
  5. Pause and lower the weights.
  6. Repeat 10 times.
Senior Woman Exercising At Gym

Upright Row

Upright rows are performed using light barbells, although two dumbbells, resistance bands, or a kettlebell could be substituted as well. They work the anterior and lateral deltoids, as well as your traps.

  1. Stand upright with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the barbell lightly in front of you with your arms straight.
  3. Bend your elbows to raise the weight up to shoulder level.
  4. Pause and lower.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
Kettlebells swing exercise man and woman

Bent Over Rows

Bent over rows help strengthen the tendons of the rotator cuff as well as the rear deltoids. This move can be done with dumbbells, resistance bands, or barbells as well. Take care to breathe throughout the movement and don't allow momentum to take over. If you jerk the barbell up instead of smoothly controlling the movement, you're taking some work out of your shoulders.

  1. Stand upright with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. If you prefer, you can place your right hand and right knee on a bench for additional stability. In this position, you'll work your left side first before switching to work the right.
  3. With the weight in front of you, held with an overhand grip, hinge at the hips to drop your upper torso forward without rounding your back.
  4. Keeping your gaze on the ground around three feet in front of you, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your elbows back, lifting the weight up toward your ribs.
  5. Hold the weights at your ribs for a count or two, squeezing your muscles.
  6. Release the weight back to the starting position, controlling and resisting the decline by squeezing your shoulder and arm muscles.
  7. Repeat 10 times.
Man Exercising with Arm Weights

Keep Your Shoulders Strong

Isotonic exercises are a great way to improve the strength in your shoulders. Be sure to perform each of the exercises to get the full benefit of having worked each section of the shoulder. Add isotonic shoulder exercises to your regular exercise routine and reap all the benefits this effective form of strength training has to offer.

Isotonic Shoulder Exercises