7 Easy Moves for Strong 'n Sexy Shoulders
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2017
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Nothing says “confidence” like strong shoulders. Though you may not think of them often, your shoulders can actually improve your posture and make your waist look slimmer. That is, if you train them properly. In order to prevent injury, be sure to always incorporate all three parts of the deltoid (anterior, lateral and posterior) and focus on your form when exercising. Start with the rear deltoid because it usually doesn’t get as much attention as the other two sections. Get pumped with these seven moves -- and modify them if you have any previous injuries or want to take the intensity down a notch.
REAR LATERAL RAISE AND EXTENSION
This nearly full-body move engages your shoulders, core and legs. Start with a lighter weight than you would use for a lateral raise (see exercise 5). HOW TO DO IT: Starting on all fours, grab your weight with your right hand and bend your elbow to form a 90-degree angle. Lift your left leg off the floor and extend it behind you. Inhale as you lift your elbow. Hold, then exhale as you punch forward. Inhale as you return, and exhale as you lower your elbow to the starting position. If the extension forward is too much for you, simply raise the arm to the side slowly for two counts and lower for two counts. Keep your core tight and your forearm parallel to the floor. Aim for 10 to 15 reps per side for two to three sets. TARGET MUSCLES: Anterior, Lateral and Posterior Deltoid, Core and Erector Spinae.
PLANK CRAWL WITH MINI BAND
Get those postural muscles fired up with this amped-up plank crawl. HOW TO DO IT: Place a light to medium-resistance mini band around your wrists and get into a high plank position. Press your shoulders back and away from your ears. Begin walking one hand forward as far as possible. Then walk forward with the second. Return to your starting position one hand at a time and repeat. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in toward your lower back. Aim for 10 to 15 reps (forward and back is one), and then take a break before repeating. TARGET MUSCLES: Anterior and Posterior Deltoid and Rhomboids.
Mr. Schwarzenegger isn’t the only one who can get chiseled shoulders. Avoid shoulder-press machines that lock you into a position. Instead of leaning against a chairback, challenge yourself by engaging your core throughout. HOW TO DO IT: Sitting tall, bring your dumbbells to your chin with your palms facing inward. Swing both arms out and away from your body to either side of your chest. Exhale as you push the weight overhead, bringing your upper arms to your ears. Aim for 12 to 15 reps with a warmup weight, and then add weight each following set. Go for three sets, increasing weight and decreasing reps as you go. TARGET MUSCLES: Anterior, Lateral and Posterior Deltoid. And there’s additional core work if not supported by chairback.
FRONT LATERAL RAISE
HOW TO DO IT: Before beginning, grab your dumbbells and roll your shoulders back to perfect your posture. Slowly raise one arm to 90 degrees with a slightly bent and rounded elbow, keeping your knees bent. Focus on getting your elbow parallel to the floor. Slowly lower that arm to starting position before lifting the other. After doing each arm individually, lift both together to finish off. Repeat by starting with the opposite arm. As each rep has three parts, aim for eight to 10 total reps. PRO TIP: Never go higher than 90 degrees in a front lateral raise; you could be susceptible to shoulder impingement. TARGET MUSCLES: Anterior Deltoid. Your anterior deltoid isn’t just for looks — it’s also your most frequently used shoulder muscle.
SIDE LATERAL RAISE
The side lateral raise is a classic among shoulder workouts, but it’s often done incorrectly. HOW TO DO IT: Grab your weights. Start by standing tall, rolling your shoulders back and bending your knees. Take note to keep your wrists flat and in line with your forearm as you bend your elbows and slowly lift them out to the side, forming a 90-degree angle between your upper-arm and side. Once again, keep your forearm parallel to the floor at the top of the lift, and do not raise your hand higher than the elbow. Add weight and decrease reps each set for three to four sets. TARGET MUSCLES: Lateral Deltoid.
FRONT TO BACK OVERHEAD PRESS
For many athletes who require increased upper-body mobility, such as Olympic lifters and CrossFitters, this move can be used to assess weaknesses. Make sure to use a lighter weight (maybe 15 pounds) and focus on form. If you have preexisting injuries, sit this one out. HOW TO DO IT: Sit on an exercise ball to activate your core. With the bar extended overhead, slowly lower it down behind your head. Then press the bar back overhead and lower in front. Repeat. If you are forced to lean forward more than a little when lowering the bar behind your head, this move is probably not for you. TARGET MUSCLES: Anterior and Posterior Deltoid.
The Wall Climb is basically an assisted handstand with some added work for the shoulders. Keep your arms as straight as possible, and push your shoulders down and away from your ears by engaging your back. Move as quickly as you can, because the longer you take, the harder it gets. HOW TO DO IT: Start by lying on the floor. Push to a high plank position. Carefully place one leg against the wall and start walking your body up into a handstand. Once there, slowly walk back out into the plank position and repeat. Shoot for five to 10 reps. Practice at home on a carpeted floor in case you have a tumble. TARGET MUSCLES: Anterior, Lateral and Posterior Deltoid and Core, Rhomboid and Lats.
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