6 Simple Moves for Toned Shoulders this Summer

Add these moves to your routine to build shoulder strength and sculpt a slim, toned look

Catarina Cowden

It’s only natural we show off our shoulders more during the summer months. Warmer weather means sleeveless tees and, of course, beach attire, too.

If, like many, you’re after a trim and toned upper-body aesthetic, you’ll absolutely want to make strength training a part of your workout routine.


Because you can’t achieve muscle “tone” just by burning fat, you’ll actually have to build up some muscle, too. Plus, while there are many benefits to cardio exercise (and you should still include it as part of your routine for the most effective results), it won’t contribute to your muscle-building (or “toning”) goals.

Also, don’t forget: you can’t target fat loss in a specific body part. These moves won’t burn fat around your shoulders, your overall workout routine (the combination of both strength training and cardio) will help you burn body fat all over. Specific resistance exercises, like the moves outlined below, are used to target different muscles.

As part of your complete summer workout routine, you can sculpt strong, toned shoulders with these six simple exercises.  

1. Crazy Ivan
This exercise targets your shoulders and obliques.

Start seated with your knees slightly bent and a dumbbell in your hands. Your torso should lean back slightly so that your core is engaged. Keep your core tight as you touch the dumbbell down to the floor on your left and then twist to the right as you raise it up above your head until your arms are stretched above you completely. Lower the dumbbell back to the floor on your left by reversing the twist and repeat the movement for 10 reps on the left followed immediately by 10 reps on the right. Perform three sets with 30 seconds of rest in between each.

2. Plank Walk-Ups
While putting many of the major shoulder muscles to work, the plank walk-up also forces you to engage your core, as well as stabilizer muscles in the arms and lower body.

Starting in a high-plank position, lower down onto your right forearm and then your left. Pause for a beat before lifting up with your left arm and then your right to return to high-plank position (this counts as one repetition). Perform three sets of 10 to 20 reps.

3. Sumo Squat + Upright Kettlebell Row
This compound move will target not only your shoulders, but also your quads, glutes and inner thighs.

Begin standing tall with your feet pointed slightly outward and slightly wider than hip-width distance apart. Hold the kettlebell handle with both hands and extend your arms so it hangs down between your legs. Keep your core tight and your spine neutral as you squat down. As you make your way out of the squat by returning to the starting position, bend your elbows, drawing your hands to your chin to complete the row. Perform three sets of 8 to 12 reps.

4. Dumbbell Front Raise
Start standing tall, with your feet shoulder-width distance apart and your hands at your sides, a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your core tight and your spine neutral as you slowly raise your arms out in front of you. Pause for a beat and then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Perform three sets of 8 to12 reps.

5. High Plank Shoulder Raise
This move targets your shoulders while also engaging your abs.

Start in high plank position, making sure that your core is tight and your spine is neutral. Slowly alternate between raising your right and left arm straight out in front of you. Perform three sets of 10 to 20 reps (each lift is one rep).

6. Dolphin Push-Up
Begin in forearm plank position, making sure to keep your core tight and your spine neutral. Slowly push back to lift your hips towards the ceiling. Pause for a beat before lowering yourself back down to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 to 20 reps.

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