senior woman doing Shoulder exercises for seniors with other seniors at the gym

9 Senior-Friendly Shoulder Workouts | Health Tips That WORK!

Wondering about senior-friendly shoulder workouts? Keep reading!

Thanks to a few simple tweaks to curb my pain, I've seen how certain exercises - from those diagonal twisters to cool-looking spinal flexes - not only BOOST my back health but completely transform my wellness to a whole new level. (FYI: Thank me later!)

Now, get ready to discover 9 PRO exercises (and more tips!) that go beyond just muscle building – you'll unlock my best-kept secrets for good!

So, what are you waiting for? Dive in ASAP!

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of Shoulder Stretches: Shoulder stretches are vital for seniors as they prepare the body for more intense workouts, relieve tension, and improve posture.
  • Benefits of Resistance Training: Resistance exercises increase shoulder strength and help seniors maintain their balance.
  • Achieve Optimal Balance: Strength training helps seniors restore muscle balance around the shoulder joint, which is essential for optimal mobility.

    PRO TIP: Get Your STOT SPORTS back brace to enhance your workout. It's a game-changer for back support!

    Best Shoulder Exercises for Seniors | 9 Moves for Your Golden Years

    Blending shoulder workouts with posture exercises and back stretches can significantly enhance overall fitness for seniors - a recipe for an age-old healthy wellness plan.

    First up, let's explore one of the coolest shoulder exercises - standing shoulder rolls!

    #1 Standing Shoulder Rolls

    Standing Shoulder Rolls are all about bolstering and stabilizing your shoulder blades, making lifting tasks a breeze.

    This exercise also ramps up your shoulder mobility, which is especially helpful for actions like shrugging. Here's how to conquer it!

    How to Master Standing Shoulder Rolls:

    1. Find Your Starting Position: Stand or sit comfortably, feet shoulder-width apart, with a light weight in each hand.
    2. Shoulder Elevation and Rotation: Gently raise your shoulders towards your ears, then roll them backward and downward. Aim for at least 20 repetitions.
    3. Synchronized Breathing: As your shoulders rise and fall, breathe out smoothly. Remember to lift your ribcage and tuck in your chin as you flex at the knees.
    4. Focus on Shoulder Movement: Ensure that only your shoulders are moving – keep your elbows extended towards the ground for the correct form.

    From my own practice, I've found that this exercise significantly enhances your upper body strength and flexibility - so feel free to try it! 

    Next up, see what Bob & Brad say about this epic workout...

    Next, let's reveal another one of my favorites -- diagonal shoulder raises!

    #2 Diagonal Shoulder Raises

    Diagonal shoulder raises focus on bolstering your chest and upper arm muscles.

    In fact, this exercise is fantastic for boosting independence – think about the ease it'll bring to daily tasks like combing your hair.

    Plus, what I found was that strengthening your arms and shoulder joints not only improves your range of motion but also enhances flexibility. (Let's get to it!)...

    How to Do Diagonal Shoulder Raises:

    1. Start Position: Begin with your arms at your sides, holding a weight in one hand. You can perform this standing or sitting.
    2. Lifting the Weight: Lift the arm holding the weight across your body, ensuring your arm faces outward at the end. Remember to breathe evenly and hold the weight just right – not too loose, not too tight.
    3. Maintain Posture: Keep your upper body upright and extend your elbow fully as you lift.
    4. Return and Switch: Return to the starting position and switch the weight to your other arm.
    5. Repetitions: Perform at least 10 repetitions on each arm. Then, return to the starting position and repeat for another 10 reps.

    These exercises, when done regularly, can truly transform your daily life - making simple tasks much more manageable.

    For a quick demo, check out these videos explaining Diagonal Shoulder Raises from Livestrong:


    Now, let's get groovin' to the next move!

    #3 Shoulder Press

    Ready to give your shoulder workouts a fresh twist? This is literally my next favorite move -- and you'll see why!

    Reimagining the classic shoulder press, let’s focus on enhancing upper body strength and stability – important for keeping freedom in daily activities.

    How to Execute the Shoulder Press:

    1. Position Your Start: Sit or stand comfortably, holding a light dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Ensure your feet are flat on the ground for stability.
    2. Press Upward: Gradually push the weights above your head, fully extending your arms. Keep this motion smooth to protect your joints.
    3. Return with Care: Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Remember, controlled movements are vital here.
    4. Repeat: Aim for 10-15 repetitions. If you're just starting, fewer reps work fine, too.

    Don't scroll too much! First, check out this video for expert tips on mastering this classic strength-building move!

    #4 Lateral Raises

    Lateral raises are excellent for targeting the shoulder blades and improving overall shoulder health, which I've found essential in my training experience.

    Here's how to do it!

    How to Perform Lateral Raises:

    1. Begin Standing: With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your core tight and posture upright.
    2. Raise Arms Sideways: Slowly lift the weights out to your sides, keeping a slight bend in the elbows until they reach shoulder height.
    3. Controlled Descent: Lower the weights back down to your sides gently.
    4. Repeat: Complete 10-15 reps. The focus is on form, not speed.

    Before you skip ahead, check out this video for an expert's review ASAP!

    #5 Triceps Kickback

    The triceps kickback is a stellar exercise for seniors, aimed at making daily tasks like standing up from a chair or reaching high shelves easier. It's a fantastic way to tone and strengthen your arms.

    Let's skip ahead!

    How to Master the Triceps Kickback:

    1. Prepare Your Stance: Whether sitting or standing, lean over your knee, chair, or table. Hold a weight in your hand.
    2. Execute the Kickback: Straighten your elbow behind you as far as comfortably possible. Aim for ten repetitions.
    3. Breathing Technique: Breathe out when moving the weight backward and in when bringing it forward. The key here is controlled movement, not speed.
    4. Maintain Your Form: Keep your body steady throughout. Your elbows and upper arms should stay stationary.

    As the expert shows, "My upper arm is going to stay parallel to the floor; it's not going to move at all. All I'm doing is kicking my forearm back and squeezing my tricep at the top."

    Using this exercise in your routine can significantly enhance your arm strength and overall functionality. Remember, it's about precision, not speed. Give it a try and feel the difference!

    Before skipping, check out this video on triceps kickbacks from LIVESTRONG.COM!

    #6 Overhead Press

    The overhead press is not just any exercise; it's a key player in stabilizing your back muscles and enhancing shoulder mobility.

    Perfect for seniors, it helps you reach overhead with ease and keeps your arms toned and strong.

    How to Excel at the Overhead Press:

    1. Begin with the Right Stance: Start with a weight in each hand at chest level, palms forward. Position your feet shoulder-width apart for a stable base.
    2. Execute the Lift: Raise both weights straight up simultaneously. Remember, you're aiming for ten repetitions.
    3. Breathing Technique: Breathe out when lifting the weights and in while lowering them. Control is crucial here – no rushing.
    4. Maintain Proper Posture: If the exercise strains your back, consider doing it seated. Keep your back straight and chest high, and avoid arching your back.

    As noted by fitness expert David Jack, "The key is to master the start and end positions. Ensure your hands are over your shoulders and biceps next to your ears in the top position."

    Want a demo? Check out this video on overhead presses from David!

    Incorporating the overhead press into your routine will not only stabilize your back muscles but also improve your functional fitness.

    So, let's get lifting and feel the power of a stronger upper body!

    3 Shoulder Stretches for Seniors From Harvard Experts

    Shoulder stretches are perfect for priming your body for more intensive workouts, and they're also excellent at easing shoulder tension and enhancing your overall posture.

    Besides, Harvard experts warn to "always warm up your shoulder" before attempting these exercises - so refrain from jumping right in [2].

    Now that you've warmed up, let's get to a few cool exercises!

    #1 Quadruped Thoracic Stretch

    This stretch is designed to strengthen your shoulder muscles and arms, which is essential for building upper body strength. It's dead easy to do!

    How to Perform the Quadruped Thoracic Stretch:

    1. Start in a Quadruped Position: Position yourself on all fours, aligning your hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Keep your back straight, focusing on engaging your core.
    2. Hand Placement: Gently place your left hand on the back of your head, ensuring you point your elbow outward with no pressure on your neck.
    3. Shoulder Rotation: Slowly rotate your head and shoulder towards the right hand.
    4. Reverse Movement: Rotate your shoulder towards the left hand, pointing the elbow to the ceiling and holding for about 3 seconds.
    5. Repeat: Return to the starting position and continue the exercise for 30 seconds before switching sides.

    Dr. Jo reveals exactly how to do it well!

    #2 Child's Resting Pose

    The Child's Resting Pose is a popular yoga stretch aimed at stretching the shoulder muscles and spine. Here's how to do it...

    How to Execute the Child's Resting Pose:

    1. Prepare Your Position: On a yoga mat, kneel with knees apart and feet together.
    2. Stretch: Sit back on your heels and stretch forward, allowing your stomach to rest on your thighs.
    3. Extend Arms: Stretch your arms in front of you, resting your forehead on the mat. You should feel a stretch in your back, shoulders, glutes, and hips.
    4. Deepen the Stretch: Gently press your shoulders and chest towards the floor, holding for about 30 seconds for a deeper stretch.

    Before scrolling, relax and stretch with Child's Resting Pose by David from Vive Health!

    #3 Spine Mobility Side Windmill Stretch

    This exercise targets the shoulder muscles, arms, and spine, enhancing mobility and stability.

    It's not hard once you know how to do it. Here's how!

    Steps for the Spine Mobility Side Windmill Stretch:

    1. Lie Down: Start by lying on your side, bringing your knees towards your stomach at a 90-degree angle, with your hips also bent at the same angle.
    2. Arm Position: Extend your arms out to one side.
    3. Open Up: Slowly open your body, bringing the opposite arm over to the other side, ensuring your shoulder blades stay flat on the floor.
    4. Return: Slowly go back to the original position and repeat 10 times before switching to the other side.

    I've grown fond of the Child's Resting Pose for its relaxing benefits, especially after a busy day. It's not only a stretch to me - it's a pause that refreshes my mind and body.

    As for the Spine Mobility Side Windmill Stretch, I find it superb for maintaining flexible, pain-free shoulders.

    Now, learn how to soothe your shoulder health with health expert Ashley!

    By including these exercises in your routine, you can greatly enhance your shoulder health and mobility.

    Remember, consistency is key!

    Before we wrap up, let's take a moment to discuss which exercises to steer clear of...

    Shoulder Exercises to Avoid and Why

    Our shoulders often bear the brunt of daily strains, more so in this digital age.

    Yes, it's true - people are often curled over laptops and smartphones, leading to weakened glutes, locked hips, and hunched shoulders.

    So, when it comes to gym time, avoiding exercises that further misalign our already stressed shoulders is crucial.

    You must aim for movements that pull your shoulders back and down, like slipping them into your back pockets. This helps counteract the effects of our sedentary lifestyles.

    Health experts from Muscle & Fitness Magazine suggest that our modern posture problems make some traditional shoulder exercises more harmful than helpful [3].

    1. Upright Row: A No-Go

    Why to Avoid: While once popular, upright rows are not suitable for today's lifestyle. Most of us now struggle with rounded shoulders due to constant computer and smartphone use.

    This exercise exacerbates muscle dysfunction.

    Do this Instead: Physioball Ys and Ts. Lying face-down on a physioball, perform arm raises in “Y” and “T” formations. This strengthens and stabilizes shoulders, offsetting sitting effects.

    For more challenges, add light dumbbells.

    This switch not only strengthens but also stabilizes your shoulders, reducing injury risk and offsetting the negatives of prolonged sitting.

    2. Kipping Pullups: Think Twice

    Why to Avoid: Famous in CrossFit, kipping pullups are risky. Many lack the shoulder stability needed, raising the potential for injury.

    Unless you're a CrossFit athlete, it's better to steer clear.

    Do this Instead: Traditional pullups or chin-ups. With an overhead or underhand grip, focus on pulling your shoulder blades together.

    This not only builds shoulder muscle but also counteracts sitting effects.

    3. Battling Ropes: Proceed with Caution

    Why to Avoid: Though they offer a great workout, battling ropes demand shoulder strength and mobility that many don't have.

    The vigorous, one-arm-at-a-time motion can strain both shoulders.

    Do this Instead: Dumbbell or kettlebell walks. With your posture perfect, this exercise strengthens your shoulders safely.

    So, there you have it - each smart alternative above provides an elegant way to exercise, keeping you fit and avoiding any issues along the way.

    You need to adapt your workouts to address the challenges of your changing lifestyles.

    By doing so, we ensure that our fitness routines are not only effective but also safe for our bodies.

    Got any questions? Then scroll down a notch!


    1. Can these exercises help with shoulder pain?

    Absolutely! Regularly practicing these exercises can strengthen and stretch your shoulder muscles, potentially easing pain and improving mobility.

    2. How often should seniors perform these exercises?

    I recommend seniors aim for 2-3 sessions per week. Adjust the frequency based on comfort and fitness levels, and remember, consistency is crucial!

    3. Are these exercises safe for all seniors?

    While generally safe, it's always best for seniors to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine, especially if they have pre-existing conditions.

    4. Can these exercises improve posture?

    Yes! Regular practice of these exercises can significantly improve posture by strengthening back and shoulder muscles.


    Hopping into senior-friendly shoulder workouts is way more than just staying fit - it's a game changer for your overall quality of life.

    In this guide, you've uncovered power-packed moves like the Quadruped Thoracic Stretch, Child's Resting Pose, and the Overhead Press. Each of these is crafted to amplify your shoulder's strength and flexibility.

    Here's the deal: consistency is your best friend here.

    By weaving these exercises into your daily routine, you're signing up for significant strides in mobility, easing pain, and boosting your overall health.

    So, why not test these workouts? Experience the bliss of a proper workout today!

    Lastly, share your thoughts with me, kindred spirit. I can't wait to hear all the juicy details (what worked, what didn't, and more!).

    Until next time...


    1. Atalay E, Akova B, Gür H, Sekir U. Effect of Upper-Extremity Strengthening Exercises on the Lumbar Strength, Disability and Pain of Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Study. Journal of sports science & medicine [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 Dec 8];16:595–603. Available from:

    2. stretching-exercises-frozen-shoulder [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2014 [cited 2023 Dec 8]. Available from:

    3. Williams P. 7 Moves You Should Avoid in Your Shoulder Workouts [Internet]. Muscle & Fitness. 2019 [cited 2023 Dec 9]. Available from:

    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.