6 Ways You Can Exercise with Light Dumbbells and Still Get Big Shoulders

Build big shoulders with these lightweight dumbbells. (Image via Pexels / Yaroslav Shuraev)
Build big shoulders with these lightweight dumbbells. (Image via Pexels / Yaroslav Shuraev)

Can you exercise with light dumbbells and yet build big, strong delts? Yes, you can. Using a lightweight dumbbell, you can perform exercises at a controlled tempo (reps per set), which stimulates your muscles and builds density.

Muscles in your body work in opposite pairs. For example, biceps stretch and tighten due to muscle pairs that orient oppositely during their action. But your shoulders don't have a direct antagonist muscle group. Therefore, when you train your shoulder muscles, you engage them at multiple angles for training all three heads of the deltoid—front, side, and rear. In short, you don't need to stop midway in your rep set to switch between them!

Light dumbbells can also be effective for targeting your shoulders, which is a much safer way of working out those small muscles. Here are six great shoulder exercises that you can do with lighter weights.

Exercises to Get Big Shoulders with Light Dumbbells

1. One-Two Punch

This fun exercise will give you the arm toning benefits of kickboxing, but it also will work your chest, shoulders and abs.


Here's how you do this workout:

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
  • Hold a pair of weights close to your body at chest height, palms facing in.
  • Engage your core; this means contracting the muscles of your abdomen, lower back and gluteal region.
  • Extend your right arm out across your body, turning your torso the left and pivoting on your right toes.
  • Retract your arm and punch the opposite one out in the same direction.
  • Come back through center, which also means returning to where you started, and repeat on the other side.

2. Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is a good exercise to tone your shoulders. It works to strengthen the upper body and give it the shape of a V.


To do lateral raise:

  • Stand with your hands holding dumbbells at your sides.
  • Lift the dumbbells until the arms are at shoulder height and slightly out in front of you.
  • Slowly lower back down with control.

3. Superman

This fun exercise allows you to channel your inner superhero while also strengthening your back, arms, shoulders, butt, and the calf muscles.


Here's how you do it:

  • Lie on your stomach, extending your arms and legs straight out in front of you.
  • Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, engage your core as you lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor.
  • Hold for a moment, then return to start.
  • Make sure not to let your neck sink in.

4. Tricep Kickbacks

Getting a strength training workout doesn't have to mean lifting massive weights. This exercise focuses on the upper back, core, and shoulders without adding too much weight, which can be hard on your joints. The triceps are functional muscles that allow free movement of the arms. Do these kickbacks to get good-looking and toned triceps.


To do tricep kickbacks:

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hips so your torso is at a 45-degree angle.
  • Reach back between your legs with both arms, bending them so they reach behind you at a 90-degree angle.
  • Then bring both arms back in front of you again.
  • Take care to not hunch your back.

5. Renegade Rows

This move, a combination of push-ups, rows, and planks works your arms, chest, abs, and back muscles. You can also try a variation by dropping to your knees.


To do Renegade Rows:

  • From a high-plank position, with your hands holding a light dumbbell, lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • Press back up to a plank. Lift your right arm and bend at the elbow until the weight touches your chest.
  • Lower it back down again.

6. Overhead Squat

Holding light dumbbells overhead will make this exercise more challenging. This exercise will work your lower body, core, and shoulders. You'll feel it in those areas when you hold your weights overhead.


To do the overhead squat:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells above your head with your palms facing forward.
  • Engage your core and squat down, sending your hips back and keeping your knees behind your toes.
  • Keep your biceps in line with your ears, chest open, and torso erect.
  • Lower down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then rise back up.

Benefits of Using Light Dumbbell Weights

The three main benefits of lifting and working with light dumbbell weights are given here.

1. You can decrease your chances of getting injured. Why? Lifting light weights helps build strength but doesn't put as much stress on your joints as heavy lifting does.

2. You can work out for a longer time and thus build muscle strength without getting fatigued.

3. You will be able to perform the full range of motion, which is not possible with heavier weights.


If you're not a fan of heavy weights, then these lightweight workouts may be just what you've been looking for. At any age, strength training should be a part of your wokout regimen. You can get big results with lighter dumbbells, so don't underestimate their ability to help you meet your strength training goals.

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