The Best Upper Body Workout For Shoulder Pain

An upper body workout for less shoulder pain will look different than an upper body workout for other fitness reasons. The exercises chosen for this workout are designed to improve muscle imbalance and and build strength in shoulder movements to limit impact and stress on the shoulder. Build strong, healthy, and pain-free shoulders by adding the best upper body workout to your fitness routine.

How To Perform The Best Upper Body Workout

This workout isn’t a rehabilitation program for shoulder injuries. Instead, it’s a way to strengthen your shoulders to prevent shoulder pain as you get older. By targeting certain movements and muscles we can limit strain and impact on the shoulder to avoid shoulder injuries all together. To perform, grab a timer and perform each movement for 1 minute (each side if applicable). If you are feeling strong, perform a second round after completing the first.

Shoulder Pass Through’s

A basic shoulder warm up exercise. Banded shoulder pass through’s help loosen up your shoulder joint and stretch important muscles to prepare your upper body for the workout.

Foam Roll Extensions

This is a great movement to counter the long hours of flexed posture we all get from sitting, driving, etc. Foam roll extensions helps open up your mid back and improve spinal mobility. Work from bottom of shoulder blade to upper back. Avoid extending in the lower back as this can cause pain.

Click to Learn More About How Mis Back Mobility Impacts Shoulder Pain

Thread The Needle

Another important mid back mobility exercise. The thread the needle improves mobility into rotation adn stretched the posterios shoulder.

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

One of the best exercises to build strength in your row movement. This single arm variation allows you to improve side to side and front to back muscle imbalances. Using a dumbell allows you to increase or decrease weight to match your ability level.

Find More Row Variations To Match Your Ability Level Here

Banded Rows

A two handed row variation to continue to build strength in the muscles of your back. The TRX Row is another good two handed row variation that can be adjusted to match your ability level.

Find More Row Variations To Match Your Ability Level Here

Banded Pull Down

Your latissimus muscle is the big, broad muscle down the side of your back and is important in controlling shoulder movement. The banded pull down is an effective way to activate and strengthen this muscle group. I love using this exercise before our big lift movement.

The Kettlebell Deadlift

While normally used to strengthen your glute and hamstring, the kettlebell deadlift is a full body movement. Heavy lifts engage the muscles of your back and help with shoulder health as well. For those familiar, the barbell deadlift is also a good option to perform here. 

Learn More About How To Perform The Kettlebell Deadlift


The facepull targets the muscles of your upper back and helps restore balance to yoru shoulder muscles. I include this movement in EVERY program shoulder pain.

Banded Y’s and T’s

People who struggle with shoulder pain often have an overdeveloped upper trapezius muscle. The Banded Y and T exercise helps target the middle and lower part of your trapezius muscle. This improves shoulder blade movement as well as create balance in shoulder movement.

Pallof Press

I always end my upper body workouts with core work. While not directly related to the shoulder, a strong core is needed to control shoulder movement and decrease pain. The Pallof Press is a safe and effective core exercise that also strengthens the shoulder.

Quadruped Hold

The quadruped hold is a plank variation that targets the shoulder as well. Screwing your hands into the ground can help improve shoulder centration for less shoulder pain.

Learn More About The Importance of Shoulder Centration

The best upper body workout to treat shoulder pain focus on improving muscle imbalances and building strength in movements to limit strain on your shoulder. Adding this upper body workout to your fitness routine will help you build strong, healthy, and pain-free shoulders.

Looking For More In Depth Way To Build Strength For Shoulder Pain? Check Out Our Four, Progressively Challenging Upper Body Workouts For Less Shoulder Pain

For the last 10 years I’ve been helping adults build the strength and confidence to live active, healthy, and happy lives. My free program ‘Solving Pain With Strength’ gives you a step-by-step, approachable way to build strength without stressing your joints. Download it below and get started feeling better today.

Build Strength Without Stressing Your Joints. Get Started With Our Free Strength Program

Solving Pain With Strength: An Approachable, Step-by-Step Strength Program For Adults Limited By Joint Pain

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