Having strong, defined shoulder muscles is super important for good posture and avoiding injuries. They are involved in many movements we take for granted including carrying things in our arms – groceries, children, packages, laundry basket – doing household chores, raking the yard, stocking shelves and even driving your car. I recently did a long driving trip and I felt it in my shoulders days later. Strong shoulders also comes into play if you have to sit hunched over at your desk for extended times.
Shoulder muscles exercises
Your shoulder muscles or deltoids as they are called (delts for short) are separated into three regions – front (anterior), middle (medial) and rear (posterior) delts. There are specific exercises we can do to target each of these areas.
- The first shoulder exercise is the dumbbell military press. These give the shoulders a good all-around workout. Sit on an exercise bench that will support your back at a slightly less than 90-degree angle. Grasp weights with both hands and bring them to a resting position on either side of your face. This will be your starting position. Your palms should be facing forward. Push weights up overhead making sure not to lock your arms at the elbows. Then lower weights to starting position. This is one repetition. Do three sets of ten reps and rest. Proper form is important here. Keep your eyes straight ahead and don’t arch your back. Use weights that allow you to do ten repetitions.
This exercise can also be done using a straight bar and is also called a military press. Most gyms have specific machines for doing military presses. The principle is the same as the dumbbell press.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most famous bodybuilders who has inspired many people to take up the sport. He won the Mr. Olympia seven times so he must have been doing something right. His workout regimen was well known for targeting all the muscle groups in an effort to please judges. His shoulder routine has been written about in many periodicals. As a matter of fact, he developed a movement that carries his name – the ‘Arnold Press’. See a demo of it below.
- The next exercise will pump up your front delts. These are called front raises. You will need a set of dumbbells for these. They can be done from a sitting or standing position. Use light enough weights to allow you to do ten repetitions. Grasp weights in each hand and raise them straight up from your side to directly in front of you. You can do them with your palms facing you or facing downward. They can be raised one at a time or together.Return weights to your side for one rep. Do eight to ten repetitions per set and complete three sets.
- We will do lateral raises next. These are similar to front raises. The movement will be to lift the weights away from your sides. For this exercise we will use dumbbells again. It can be done from a sitting or a standing position. Use light enough weights to allow you to do ten to twelve repetitions. Grasp weights with palms facing you. Raise weights away from your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor and return to starting position for one repetition. This is an excellent exercise for the middle or medial delts and is one of my favorites.
- To really add some strength and muscularity to the entire deltoid area you must do the close grip, standing upright rows. I prefer to use a straight bar but it can also be done using dumbbells. While standing, bend over and grasp the bar with your hands as close as possible. Bring to a resting position at the thigh area. Lift bar or dumbbells to just below your chin and lower for one repetition.Keep your back straight and look straight ahead. Do three sets of ten repetitions. In a short period of time you will notice your delts and the upper portion of your traps getting some serious definition.
- To pump up the rear delts I do bent over laterals. To do these you will need a set of dumbbells and an exercise bench. They can also be done from a standing position but I prefer sitting on the edge of the exercise bench. While in this position bend forward until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor. Grasp weights in both hands and lift up and away from your body. Weights should be light enough for you to do ten repetitions. Three sets are more than enough.
There are several other movements you can use to pump up your shoulders but I find the ones listed above to be more than sufficient.
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