Targeting your shoulders when working out can help with toning, sculpting and shaping your arms and upper body, as well as improving your strength and general fitness. Women come in all shapes and sizes, with different health, fitness and wellbeing goals, so there really is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to shoulder exercises.
Build this stubborn body part with this workout:
The first two exercises are designed to prepare your body for the upcoming strength moves. Though it might seem odd in a shoulder routine, the dumbbell incline chest press does a great job of warming up your front delts on the concentric (pushing) portion of the rep and your rear delts on the eccentric (lowering) portion.
And the 180-degree barbell front raise uses all three heads of the delts in the frontal plane of motion, heating up the rotator cuffs and the supporting muscles in your back, sides and chest to increase mobility and decrease the risk of injury.
Dumbbell Incline Chest Press:
- Sit on an incline bench with your feet flat on the floor and hold a set of dumbbells straight up over your chest, arms perpendicular to the floor.
- Bend your elbows and slowly lower the weights, keeping your wrists stacked over your elbows and stopping when your arms make 90-degree angles.
- Forcefully press the weights back to the start.
- A bench set to 45 degrees or a little more is the perfect angle to warm up your anterior and rear delts.
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180-Degree Barbell Front Raise:
- Hold a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart in front of your thighs.
- Without shrugging or using your back for momentum, raise the barbell up smoothly in an arc until it is directly overhead.
- Lower back to the start, using control.
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The move of this workout is the standing Arnold overhead press, which hits all three heads of the delts while also working your arms in rotation. Using a pyramid format, in which you build in weight as you drop in reps, means a push toward your 1RM as you move through your sets. Start with a moderate weight and build to something heavy in sets four and five.
Standing Arnold Overhead Press:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells at your shoulders with your palms facing rearward, elbows down, core braced.
- Press the weights straight up overhead, twisting your wrists as you extend so that at the top, your palms are facing forward.
- Reverse the steps to return to the start.
- Performing an overhead lift standing rather than seated requires your core to work double-time.
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With a lateral raise, the sticking point is in the bottom half of the move, that range of motion where you can’t quite muscle it up and are tempted to use momentum for help. Partial reps can build strength in this zone. Do these using heavy weights and use slow reps to maintain continual tension. Rest up to two minutes between sets to fully recover.
Standing Partial Lateral Raise:
- Stand with your feet together and hold a set of heavy dumbbells at your sides, palms facing inward.
- Keeping your shoulder blades anchored and your arms straight, lift the weights up and out to the sides about a third of the way through your normal range of motion.
- Pause briefly, then return to the start.
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The final two moves are for endurance and hypertrophy. Use a more moderate weight for higher reps and good form, and rest less between sets to exhaust the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your shoulders — those responsible for growth and shape. To really empty your tank, do these moves as a superset, performing them back-to-back with no rest in between.
Seated Lateral Raise:
- Sit on the end of a flat bench with your feet flat and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing inward.
- Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the dumbbells up and out to the sides until they reach shoulder height.
- Pause briefly, then lower slowly to the start.
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Incline Bench Reverse Pull/Flye Combo:
- Lie facedown on an incline bench and hold a set of dumbbells with your palms facing rearward, arms extended.
- Drive your elbows up and back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to execute the pull.
- Slowly return to the start, then immediately raise the weights up and to the sides, until they reach shoulder height.
- Lower to the start and continue, alternating moves.