To get to a good level in Calisthenics, one of the most important muscles that we must strengthen are those in the shoulder joint area, specifically the anterior deltoid, or what we colloquially know as "front shoulder".
But it happens to be that this musculature is not only important at the level of strength, but also at the aesthetic level it gives a very positive aspect to our physique.
Many people are not very clear about the exercises that best work this area, so today I bring you a list in which we will order exercises that involve the anterior deltoid, according to my personal criteria and expertise from worst to best.
Before looking at the exercises that involve this muscle, let's try to understand a little why they do it.
At a biomechanical level, the anterior deltoid is mainly in charge of the flexion of the arm, which would be the movement that we see in the image below:
Therefore, all exercises that require strength to perform that shoulder flexion, even in different body positions, will have some involvement of the anterior deltoid.
It also has an implication in the movement of adduction of the arm and internal rotation, but at the level of calisthenics we will focus more on the flexion of the arm.
Now lets see the exercises:
The classic floor push-ups do provide some stimulation to the anterior deltoids, but the range of motion is fairly limited, with most of the load being spread between the pectorals and triceps. So this exercise is not very effective for our shoulder.
If we add incline, raising our legs, we will add load on the shoulder and range of motion to the arm flexion, so it would increase the intensity and be slightly more effective than regular pushups.
If we also add push up grips, or some type of elevation that allows us to increase the range of movement, even better.
2. Bench dips
Another exercise in which we have the same situation: there is an involvement of the anterior deltoid in the movement, but the range is limited and most of the load is assumed by the pectoral and triceps. In addition, it is already a very low intensity exercise.
The classic dips in parallel bars are more intense and certainly the stimulus for the shoulder will be greater, but they are still not such a specific exercise.
3. Hindu push-ups
In this case, we do have a much greater shoulder flexion range, and a body position that favors the participation of the anterior deltoid to a greater extent.
The problem with this exercise is that it is technically quite complex and certainly difficult to execute correctly.
For many people it becomes an uncomfortable exercise to do, they don't understand it well, etc.
But if you do well technically, you like it and it's relatively comfortable for you, it can be a good option.
4. Pike push-ups
An exercise with a favorable body position for the work of the anterior deltoids, and not as technically complex as the hindu.
The problem in this case is that it requires some in the hamstrings to be able to get into the starting position, and that they are not too intense.
To improve the exercise we can do them with the feet elevated and with push up grips that increase the range of motion, thus the intensity of the shoulder work would be greater.
5. Assisted handstand push-ups
We move on to exercises that are already really intense for our anterior deltoids and in this case we have handstand push-ups leaning against the wall.
The range of motion is very good and much of the intensity of the exercise falls on our shoulders, reducing the involvement of the pectorals.
If you do them with your back to the wall, you should keep in mind that it is a somewhat compromised position for the lower back, so if you have problems of this type, it is better to do them facing the wall.
Again if we use the grips to increase the range of motion we will get more intensity.
If you have enough technique and balance to be able to do a free handstand, you can also add intensity with this version, since by not having your feet on the wall, all the weight falls on the muscles involved.
6. 45º Handstand Push up
An even more advanced version of handstand push-ups in which we try to get our body closer than normal to parallel with the ground, thus adding range of motion and also making shoulder lever more difficult, adding intensity.
Obviously this is an advanced exercise that requires considerable technical ability, but if you can perform it, you will ensure a very powerful work on your anterior deltoids.
Routine with these exercises
Here is a routine created with the shoulder exercises that we have seen in this article. With the information that you have learned, you can modify it to accommodate to your ability and level.
Bodyweight Shoulder Workout
Learn to handstand
If you want to learn the handstand to be able to perform the advanced exercises, in Calisteniapp we have free routines for it and, in the pro version, we have guided training programs that will help you achieve it step by step.