Shoulder Exercises to Add to Your Gym Workouts This Year


With the fitness industry being what it is today, there’s always some new gimmick that you “just have to try” to shake up your gym routine. Many require strange new pieces of equipment that will cost you and arm and a leg. Others require confusing contraptions that you’ll likely have a hard time figuring out. While we tend to stay away from fad workouts that people claim to be “all the rage these days”, we do believe in adding new workouts to your routine that will take you the next level of fitness. Check out these 8 exercises that you probably haven’t heard of or considered that are definitely worth a try for several fitness levels.


Fitness Level: Beginner

Crawling isn’t just for babies or toddlers learning their motor skills, folks. Scuttling around on all fours doesn’t just hit your whole body’s muscles from several angles, it also helps condition your body and build coordination. Bear crawls in particular ought to be part of your gym routine as they allow you to condition muscles in a way that simply isn’t possible on a weight machine. They’re perfect to add to your routine as a dynamic warm-up or as an additional station in your circuit training. Once you’ve got the bear crawl down, you can move on to more difficult variations like the crab crawl or the alligator walk. If all else fails, you can pop down on all fours and copy whatever it is your toddler is doing. Trust us, it’s more challenging that you think and your body will thank you for it.

Rower Rollouts

Fitness Level: Beginner

You can do much more with a rowing machine than just perfect your strokes. The machine’s sliding seat makes a great tool to work if you get creative enough. One of the ways to utilize this feature of the rowing machine is with rower rollouts. Stand with your feet together behind the rower and put your hands or forearms on top of the saddle. Keeping your core engaged, push the saddle forward until your body forms a straight line. As you reverse, keep your hips high. This is a great workout to throw in after a 500-meter row or in the middle of a high-intensity interval set you’ve got going on. 12 to 15 repetitions of this work out should have your entire core burning (in a good way).


Fitness Level: Intermediate

If you were a fan of the monkey bars as a kid (or as a kid stuck in an adult’s body) then we’ll bet you dollar to donuts that you’ll have a great time with brachiating. Brachiating simply means swinging from arm to arm (think apes) and is fantastic for helping you develop shoulder strength, flexibility and grip strength. If you’re not yet at the point where you can perform brachiations comfortably, you can start with the entry-level version of the exercise: dead hangs. Once you’re able to perform dead hangs for at least 30 seconds, you can start moving on to dynamic hangs which entails swinging gently from side-to-side while hanging. The next modification requires briefly letting go of the bar on either side to get a feel for the one-armed swing and prepare you for brachiations. Oh, and don’t forget the chalk. It’ll help.

Cossack Squats

Fitness Level: Intermediate

Ever heard of this squat? Don’t worry, we didn’t either up until just recently. Cossack squats will help you target the hip, ankle and knee mobility that we neglect when we sit all day. Not does it help build the muscle and mobility in those areas, it also forces your body to work in various movement planes other than the usual running or cycling planes. To perform this squat, you’ll need to take a wide stance and drop down over one foot. This foot should stay flat on the ground while the other leg goes into a flat hold with your toes pointed to the ceiling. To complete one rep, slide your weight to your other side and repeat. If you find this movement too difficult, place your hands on the ground for additional support. If you find it too easy, try it with a kettlebell.

The Deadmill

Fitness Level: Intermediate

shoulder exercises

Treadmills are a staple in every gym and are a great piece of equipment to warm up or get your active rest cardio in for the week. However, if you really want to challenge yourself to burn fat and build cardiac health, then it’s probably better for you to switch the treadmill off. Using your hands to stabilize you, use your legs to drive the belt, pushing at full speed and strength for as long as you can. It’ll work your hamstrings to the bone much like pushing a weighted sled. Just bear in mind that you might (just might) wear out the motor of the treadmill.


Fitness Level: Advanced

If you’ve got a pair of gymnastic rings at your gym or at home, then you really should be giving this work out a try. Skin-the-Cats are, without a doubt, tough, but they’ll really give your shoulder mobility a boost and will do wonders for your straight-arm strength. To perform Skin-the-Cats, start with a straight arm hang on both rings. From there, bring your entire body up and over then back again. That’s one rep. Make sure that you can feel the stretch when you settle into the bottom position. Adding this to your repertoire of gym moves will have your fellow gym-goers giving you the nod of approval in no time.

The Human Flag

Fitness Level: Advanced

Looking for an exercise that’s as difficult and fulfilling as it is Instagram worthy? Look no further than the Human Flag. After all, nothing is flashier than holding yourself parallel to the ground from a pole. Apart from being completely flashy, this technical and very difficult move will help you sculpt your obliques into perfection. It requires the perfect mixture of strength and technique to get yourself into the appropriate position as your top arm will be “pulling” your weight up while your lower arm “pushes”.


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