Bodyweight training can be a great way to get a workout on those days when you can’t get to the gym, and if you’re looking for ways to stay fit when you’re travelling then it’s ideal to find exercises you can perform without any equipment.
While some areas are fairly simple to train using only your bodyweight, some are a little more challenging to train effectively. The arms and shoulders in particular are difficult, largely thanks to the lower amount of weight they can manage when compared with your legs.
Despite being a challenge, it is possible to get a good bodyweight shoulder workout. Ideally you’ll have built some strength in your shoulders previously to make these movements a little more manageable (see our comprehensive list of shoulder exercises here), but most people should manage our home shoulder workout with a little practice!
Aim for 4 sets of 8 reps initially, increasing the reps as you get stronger over time. Ideally you’ll be struggling to finish the last few reps of your last set of each exercise.
Set up in the traditional pushup position and place your feet on a chair/sofa/box to elevate them just above shoulder height. Bend at the hips to push your butt towards the ceiling until your torso is at a vertical angle.
From this position, lower yourself towards the floor in a controlled manner until your head is between your hands. Pause very briefly at the bottom of this movement before pushing yourself back up to the starting position.
Set up on the edge of a chair and put your hands behind your hips, around shoulder width apart. Push yourself up so your arms are bearing most of your weight and make sure you have a secure grip on the chair.
Slowly lower your body downwards until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement before pushing yourself back up to the starting position.
This movement is similar to the pike pushup but it will work your shoulders from a slightly different angle. Set up in the traditional push up position and place your feet on a surface higher than your shoulders when your arms are fully extended.
Lower yourself towards the floor by bending at the elbows, pausing at the bottom of the movement before pushing yourself back up to the starting position.
This can be a little tricky, but you’ll need something that you can lie under and which will hold your weight. Some people use a table, others use a broomstick across two chairs. Ideally you’d have a pullup bar you could use, but if not you can improvise!
Grab the bar with an overhand grip and lie back so the body is almost parallel to the floor. You should be able to hang underneath the bar with your arms fully extended, and if possible your heels should sit on an elevated surface.
Pull yourself up towards the bar until it just touches your chest. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering yourself carefully back to the starting position.
While most people are chasing a 6 pack and a chiselled chest, nothing increases your physical presence quite like well-developed shoulders! By working hard on them you’ll fill out your t-shirt like never before and it’ll help develop your strength on lifts like the overhead press and the bench press.
While you won’t get as good a workout as you would with access to a barbell and dumbbells, you can still build a solid set of shoulders using just your bodyweight at home.