20 Minute Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells

20 Minute Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells is a short but intense shoulder strength workout from Caroline Girvan. I used it as a finisher workout after completing one of Caroline’s other intense shoulder workouts (Surefire Shoulders), so for some of the exercises my shoulders were just too fatigued to lift as heavy as I lifted in Surefire Shoulders. Nevertheless, this did an excellent job completely finishing off my shoulders. Caroline hits your shoulders from every angle in this workout. All of the exercises in this workout are done interval style: 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest, except for the first exercise (and all of its sets); that exercise is done for 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. Because of this, I suggest challenging yourself with heavier dumbbells than you would normally choose for shoulder presses. The shorter interval gives you the opportunity to lift heavier. There is a timer in the upper left hand side of the screen counting down your intervals and recoveries. During the recovery Caroline previews the next exercise. There is also a little bar at the bottom of the screen that counts down the entire workout time as a percentage

20 Minute Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells is 23:30 minutes; 1 minute intro, no warm up and 1:30 stretch. Equipment: dumbbells and a chair. Caroline is using 15kg/33 pound dumbbells and 4kg/8.8 pound dumbbells. The weights listed below are what I used.

  1. Seated shoulder press (18# DBs)
  2. Repeat #1 two more times
  3. Bent over rear delt flys (9# DBs)
  4. Repeat #3
  5. Rear delt partials (only lift halfway) (9# DBs)
  6. Repeat #5
  7. Lateral raise (11# DBs)
  8. Repeat #7
  9. Partial lateral raise (only lift halfway) (11# DBs)
  10. Repeat #9
  11. Arc raise (straight arm front raise to the front with palms facing each other, at top of lift when DBs are at shoulder level, arc top ends of DBs toward each other so that ends of DBs almost touch) (8# DBs)
  12. Repeat #11
  13. Face pulls (similar to a bent over row, at bottom of move palms are facing behind you, as you pull up raising DBs to shoulder level, rotate palms so they are facing each other/your face) (13# DBs)
  14. Repeat #13
  15. Diagonal raise (straight arm raises with arms open on a diagonal–you are raising arms in a V formation) (9# DBs)
  16. Repeat #15
  17. Partial press w/ 1 full press at halfway point (with arms in goal post only push DBs halfway for 20 seconds then do one full shoulder press and return to partial presses) (13# DBs)
  18. Repeat #17

Finisher: 60 seconds of Around the World (with palms facing forward and hands in front of thighs, keeping arms straight, raise DBs out to sides then overhead, lower DBs out to sides and back in front of thighs) (7# DBs)

For more info on Caroline Girvan’s workouts and other (free) streaming workouts I’ve sampled and reviewed, check out my Streaming page.


2 thoughts on “20 Minute Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells

  1. Wow, I am so impressed that you doubled up on 2 Caroline shoulder workouts! And you still lifted heavy in this one, so I’m doubly impressed! ☺️

    I also did 2 Caroline workouts (https://youtu.be/cj1hnHOJdNI and https://youtu.be/ajHLGnCoxl8). Both were excellent body weight workouts.

    In the first one, since she didn’t use weight, her tactic was to have long giant sets – so 4 exercises back to back each 45s long. Most exercises were single leg too. This was very effective at burning out the muscle every set. One set I couldn’t do (glute lifts on stomach) because I lack flexibility from my back fusions, so I pulled out my booty band and did glute bridges/pulses/holds instead.

    The second one was labeled bi/tri but because the staple exercise is decline push-ups (which she doesn’t say at the start that you will be doing every other exercise 🤨 😉) you get plenty of shoulder and chest too. She does bicep push-ups which I really liked and wished she’d do more often in her workouts. At the end she does a 45s crow. Impressive! I didn’t attempt it because of my elbow so I did the alternate that she showed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why doing these rotation/challenges I create (or trainers create) are so important for me. It has been bothering me to return to the Beastmode workouts again after only doing them 2 weeks ago, but I would just keep using the same dumbbells for longer than I need to if I didn’t return to the workouts. It forces me to see if I can lift heavier–and I did! 18 pounds for shoulder presses! I haven’t lifted that heavy in years (pre-cancer). In fact, the heaviest I have ever lifted for a shoulder press was 20 pounds and that was during STS. Thanks to Caroline, I may one day lift that again. She has really helped me more than any other trainer regain my strength. Cathe made me strong when I was younger, but her workouts were not helping me regain the strength I had pre-cancer. I can thank Mark Lauren and Caroline for that.

      I have Caroline’s glute workout on my to do list (but not yet scheduled) but not the upper body one. I will have to add that one to my list because it sounds tough! And knowing how to modify/substitute is key to any workout. My shoulder is still not 100% (though much better after the ablations) and some days I still have to modify some shoulder exercises–or just go lighter. Upright rows are the worst for me. Sometimes when I try to lift heavier (which is 15 pounds for me since my shoulder problems started 3 years ago) I am able to, which makes me happy, so I’ll try to grab a 15 pound dumbbells again the next time and the twinging pain will be so bad it will eff up my shoulder for the rest of the workout. So I’ve gotten to where I don’t really bother with lifting heavier than 13 for upright rows though usually I stick to 12s (sometimes even 10s!). It’s better to do what you can than to do nothing at all. Same with my feet–the screws and plates in my heels have destroyed my balance. There is no shame in holding onto a chair when I need to or doing a kickstand single leg deadlift rather than raising my leg behind me. The targeted muscle group is still being worked–even if I cannot balance on one leg!


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