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Interested in continuing to build stronger, mobile, healthier and pain-free shoulders?

Then shoulder back lifts is an awesome workout for you!

Shoulder back lifts mainly targets the weak link (the muscles you haven’t used much or you didn’t even know existed) in your shoulder muscles such as the posterior deltoids.

Even if the focus is on the shoulders, the exercise also covers a good range of the posterior chain and as a result, helps in improving your posture.

Shoulder back lift with arms by ears is a posterior deltoid strengthening exercise. This lateral exercise also strengthens the trapezius, teres major/ minor, and rhomboids. Also assisting in extending the range of motion along with the additional strength.

It’s hard to pass up this simple exercise to simply pass by. Just remember to execute the exercise in proper form and the progression appropriate for you to gain most from the exercise and avoid any injuries!


This looks like a very easy exercise but it’s not exactly for beginners. Doing the exercise on the floor requires you to have good, strong and mobile shoulders and scapula to handle the load. 

It’s ideal to train first with the exercise on an incline bench or stability ball to lessen the load and give you more range to move if even the starting position of the shoulder back lifts on the floor is already difficult for you.

You’ll also need a good amount of core strength to execute the move perfectly. If you’re comfortable with elbow planks, you’ll be good with starting the exercise.


✅Summarized Benefits

  1. Strengthens shoulders and back muscles that are usually weak links.
  2. Strengthen core muscles
  3. Improves shoulder mobility
  4. Promote shoulder health and stability
  5. Assist in shoulder rehabilitation
  6. Translatable gains for other skills that require shoulder strength and mobility such as planche and handstands
  7. Helps alleviates shoulder impingement and pain
  8. Improves posture

How to Perform 💪

  1. Begin laying prone with arms straight next to your ears, thumbs up.
  2. Keep body tight and straight, legs together.
  3. Lift arms up towards the ceiling, then lower.
  4. Repeat specified repetitions.

👉Keep in mind

Keep your shoulder blades together

Once you lift your arms, you need to pinch your shoulder blades together. Don’t allow your lats and lower back to lift your arms up. You can think of stretching the arms up and forward to keep your shoulders activated and engaged.

To also focus the activation on the key muscles, you have to engage your core and leave a gap between your stomach and the floor. This avoids putting too much strain on your lower back.

Progress slowly

You don’t have to rush and do the move immediately. You have to slowly check where you are in your current position because doing the exercise shouldn’t feel any pain. You should feel just the same stimulation on your shoulders and back similar to when you’re working out with a different exercise. 

If pain persists, you might want to step back, go to your physical therapist and ask for a consultation.


Coaching Pointers

Starting Position:

Straight arms next to ears

Lay prone

Legs together

Thumbs up

Body straight

Gap between stomach and floor

Movement Position:

Lift arms towards the ceiling

Arms still straight

Body straight

Shoulder blades together

Gap between stomach and floor

Finish Position:

Lower arms

Lay prone

Gap between stomach and floor


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