The BEST Dumbbell Exercises – SHOULDERS EDITION!

What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today I’m going to make some big choices. I’m going to cover the best shoulder exercises
that you can do with just a pair of dumbbells. Now, I have to qualify a couple of things. There’s no debating here. What I mean by that is, this arose out of
a conversation I had with a coach friend of mine of the Oakland Raiders, Rick Slate. Also, with a guy I worked with on the New
York Mets. We were having this discussion of what the
best exercises would be if you could only use a pair of dumbbells. Now, a lot of us are training in gyms, we
have access to barbells, or even things like this, the jammers. I’m going to make note of when I think these
are going to be great choices, just in case you have access to them. But I’m going to stick myself in that corner
and force myself to just look at dumbbells. Let’s face it, there are a lot of guys who
still only have access to that, and they want to train at home. They don’t have a lot of space and I’ve
got to deliver the goods here on why I did that. But the one thing I said to him was that you’ve
got at least give me some context. You can’t just tell me to pick my favorite
exercises without context. I’m going to provide context and we decided
that we’re going to break it down by strength, power, hypertrophy, corrective, a total body
exercise, and even one that’s meant for metabolic training as an additional form of
creating hypertrophy. Also, one to hit the rear delts because none
of them really fit that category especially well unless you’re trying to do it specifically. So, I’m going to make all those choices
and we’re going to start right now with strength. Right off the bat when going for strength,
what is your option here? What are you going to do? I mentioned the barbell exercises in the opening. If I had access to a barbell, then I have
the overhead press as my option there. But we don’t have that option, but I don’t
think we need to abandon the movement. The movement is still going to be the basic
foundation of all your shoulder strength. That is being able to press something up over
your head. However, you’re not going to want to do
this. You don’t want to sit down to do the exercise. It’s a fallacy where people think you take
the legs out of the exercise by sitting down. You wind up driving more into your knees and
legs to drive your head back into the bench, creating a counterforce, and pushing the dumbbells
up awkwardly overhead. That’s interfering with the normal scapula-humeral
rhythm of your arm by pressing your shoulder blades back into that bench. It’s not the best option. So, what I always want you to do is get on
your feet. To do the exercise of choice, we would do
a standing dumbbell press. The great thing about this exercise is it
allows you to get your elbows out in front of your body, more into that scapular plane
where we can press overhead more safely without risking impingement of our shoulder. We also know for the barbell if you were to
do this exercise with a barbell, all you have to do is take a narrower grip, which is going
to bring your elbows out in front of your body. One last caveat, I will say, if you are training
with dumbbells – and this is with a goal of progressive overload, trying to build your
strength – you’re not necessarily going to be able to make the smaller jumps you can
with the barbell. A 5lb increase on a barbell is going to turn
into a 10lb increase with dumbbells. If you go up from 50s to 55s it’s a 55 in
this hand and a 55 here. That’s a 10lb overall increase on the double
overhead press. So just keep that in mind. If you have the option for the barbell, go
for it. But this is about dumbbells. Use that standing press, don’t sit down. Next up, if we’re going to talk about strength,
we’re also going to talk about power. Power is going to rely on your ability to
apply some speed to the movement that you’re performing. Right here, guys, this is what I talked about
in the open. The jammers are my absolute favorite, but
I realize that not a lot of people have access to this piece of machinery. Even if you have a decked-out gym, a lot of
times jammers are not part of that. Even if you have this additional implement
here called the Viking Press, I love this too, but the benefit to both of these implements
is it gets your shoulders out in front of your body, once again, in that safer position. Especially when you’re going to apply speed
to a movement. Secondly, it allows your legs to participate
heavily in the activity. If we’re talking about power and the application
of maximum force over the shortest period of time, we know our legs could contribute
greatly to doing that and allowing us to do it most effectively. However, I’ve got to make a substitution
here. I’ve got to make a choice that’s dumbbell
related. Again, we don’t have to really change the
movement. All we have to do is swap dumbbells into our
hands and perform the push press, as you see me doing here. The benefit of the push press is utilizing
your legs to drive from the ground up. It’s an athletic, ground-based movement. But please do it right. You’ve got to make sure you’re not just
bending your knees, but you’re properly loading the hips. If you want to apply force and strength to
a movement and speed, you want to utilize the biggest muscles in your body. Those are around your hips. So, stick your ass out. Hinge at the hips. Utilize those big muscles. Drive up overhead. Keep your reps sub-failure here to make sure
you’re maximizing your power output and go for it, guys. A great option here when you’re looking
to use dumbbells and developing more power. So, we know there’s more than one way to
skin a cat. We also know in order to create muscle growth
it doesn’t always have to rely on adding more weights to the bar. We have more options. When we’re talking about strict hypertrophy
you want to attack it in a different way. My best option here, if I could only choose
one, is going to be the utilization of a side-lateral raise. But we’re going to do it in a cheat lateral
form. You can see me doing this here. I’m able to overload the weight. I’m able to utilize a bit of a cheat on
the concentric portion of the lift by bringing the dumbbell up and really trying to focus
on the eccentric lowering of that dumbbell. Slow, in control, really try to fight that
descent. That’s a great stimulus for overall muscle
growth in the long term. But I don’t just stop there. Again, I realize I can go to failure on that
lift and then take it through failure. Another key aspect of taking a muscle closer
toward a hypertrophy response is to apply stress to, and through failure. So, I can drop this, take a lighter weight,
and then apply a strict form to it. Go from my cheat approach to it, to a stricter
form here on the straight-lateral raise. You’ll see I don’t abandon the care that
I take of my shoulder here. I’m trying to keep my pinky down. No ‘pouring the pitcher’ as we always
talk about here. You want to keep your thumb higher than your
pinky. Really go for that good contraction at the
top, lower the dumbbell back under tension. There is no momentum, but the key is to take
it all the way through until you cannot perform another rep in good form. This is a great combination you can use and
all you need is two pair of dumbbells to accomplish what we’re looking to do. Moving on, guys, another option we have when
we’re trying to create muscle hypertrophy is to apply a whole different technique. That is metabolic stress. Metabolic training. What we do here is, this is where we talk
about not just trying to seek out the burn, but really revel in that burn. The set doesn’t even start until it starts
to burn, and then you try to see how far you can go through it. We can utilize a mechanical drop-set with
a single pair of dumbbells that will allow to not just take it to failure, once again,
but through failure, accumulating more, and more lactic acid that we have to really try
to resist. It starts off here with this fixed arm, or
lockout front raise. What I do is keep my elbow locked into a 90-degree
position and I raise my arm up in front of my body. It’s sort of a modified front raise and
press. But we know that once I fatigue there, I’d
better choose an exercise I can handle a bit more easily with that weight if I’m going
to follow the mechanical drop-set concept. That’s where I could switch to a high pull. The high pull – do not be confused – has
nothing to do with an upright row. The positioning of my hands in relation to
my elbows is directly opposite of what would be in an upright row. I’m not letting my elbows lead the way with
my hands trailing. I’m letting my hands lead the way with my
elbows trailing, which creates the opposite rotation in the shoulder. External rotation. You’ve probably heard me say that a few
times. You’re going to do that all the way until
you’ve reached failure, once again. But now we get a chance to drop one of the
dumbbells. Take that one dumbbell, hold it out in front
of you, and now perform a figure-8. We call these plate-8s when I’m doing it
with a plate, but there’s no reason why you can’t do this now with a single dumbbell. You take it, once again, to failure. By now your shoulders should feel like they’re
a raging inferno, but you don’t want to quit. If you’re going for a true, metabolic effect
here you have to revel in that burn, like I said. Now take that dumbbell, grip it, and do a
dumbbell press out. Again, you have that little reprieve when
the dumbbell is closer to your chest. It’s going to give you the option to keep
these things repping out. But as soon as you’re done here, then you’ve
reached failure, and you’ve finally completed the set. That is a great option. Again, just with dumbbells, to create an incredible,
metabolic effect that’s going to help you, if this is what you’re pursuing in your
training. So, let’s say you now have one exercise
that you’re looking for because you’re very short on time. You’re trying to train on the overhead press. You’re trying to train a vertical pressing
motion, but you don’t have a lot of time. You want to kill a few birds with one stone. Here’s what I’ve got for you. You might be thinking “Barbell thruster”. I would agree. It’s a great exercise if you have a barbell
or, again, setting a precedent here, and I’m being forced to choose between dumbbell exercises. So, could I do the dumbbell thruster? It’s an option, but what I really like to
do instead is what you’re seeing here. This is a dumbbell power-clean over. Basically, I get an opportunity to take a
dumbbell off the ground. I don’t have to stop or limit myself at
the bottom of a squat like I do with the thruster. It teaches me to clean off the ground. I’m able to clean it to one shoulder and
then in one motion, take that dumbbell up and overhead to the opposite shoulder. It’s more explosive, it’s very demanding
in terms of the total body output, and a few rounds of this exercise, you’re going to
feel absolutely wiped out. Not that the thruster won’t do the same
thing to you, but I feel that it’s a little more dynamic and I like the fact that I can
take the dumbbell all the way to the ground, as opposed to cutting it halfway. Mention the work ‘corrective’ and as a
physical therapist you’ve already identified me as the face pull guy. You know that I’m going to pick a face pull. The problem is, I can’t do a face pull with
a dumbbell. What I’d rather do is lie on the floor and
turn that into an additional component here. That is the prone press. What we do is, we have to get our arms off
the floor just to start the exercise, to have enough clearance to do the exercise. We don’t need heavy weight. Guys, with most corrective exercises, you’d
be surprised at how weak you really are because you haven’t trained them enough. The very light weight here is plenty to overload
the muscles I’m trying to work here. Those are the mid-scapular muscles, the rotator
cuff – to get my arms off the ground – and more importantly, because of the press we
can involve the lower traps I’ve talked a lot about on this channel. We’re forcing the lower traps to stabilize
as our arms go up overhead. Guess what, guys? They’re going to be trying to do that job
when they get back to the heavy overhead press as well. They’re important muscles. I say it all the time, guys. All muscles matter. You need to figure out a way to do that. It should look very similar to another exercise
I’ve done. Take a guess. It’s the face pull with the overhead press
that we’ve added in recent videos. You can see the similarities between the movement. The fact is, if I don’t have access to a
cable, but I have dumbbells at my disposal – very light ones, at that – I’m going
to be able to hit my correctives in the best way possible with this one. Finally, guys, I mentioned the rear delts
in the opening, and how they need a little bit of a special attack plan if you want to
hit them, maximally. I did a video showcasing the exercise that
I thought did just that. It utilized dumbbells. That is the rear delt row. The main benefit here is, when you want to
get the rear delt to be maximally activated here, you have to make sure you get your arm
into extension, back behind your body. That’s something that rear delt row allows
us to do. However, I’ve come across another exercise
I think adds an additional component, in addition to this extension, without having to sacrifice
that and it will do an even better job. We call this one the Urlacher. I have to open up my chest, externally rotate
my shoulders, get the rotator cuff working. However, because of the slight lean forward
of my body I’m going to get my elbows back behind my body, work those posterior delts,
also get the traps to work, also get the rhomboids to work. I’m getting the rear delts, but not being
forced to do so in isolation. I’m able to do them with a little extra
focus from a few of the extra muscles on the backside of our shoulders and the back that
tend to work well in concert with these muscles to get a better, overall effect. Again, if you’re looking for just trying
to target your body building, or you’re trying to just target the rear delt then I
would probably go with the rear delt row. However, if you have one opportunity, I would
pick the Urlacher instead. There you have it, guys. My selections for the best shoulder exercises
can be done with just a pair of dumbbells. Of course, with a few extra barbell exercises
thrown in, or even some extra machines to justify my selections. Now, I wouldn’t call that a debate. I think I did well in sticking to the rules
here. The fact is, guys, when it comes to making
selections context matters. How you train, you have to look at all the
elements of your training if you want to see what you should be doing and justify why you’re
doing what you’re doing. In this case, the training purpose and the
focus of what you’re trying to accomplish is going to dramatically dictate the selection
of the exercises you’re going to choose. If you’re looking for programs that lay
that all out for you guys step by step, we vary the focus of what we’re trying to do
and with it, the exercise selections as well. You’re going to get head to
and get one of our programs. In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful leave your comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what else you want me to cover
and I’ll do my best to do that for you. If you haven’t already, please subscribe
and turn on your notifications so you never miss a video when we do on. All right, guys, I’ll be back here again
soon. See you.

Daniel Yohans

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