Sculpted & Sexy Shoulders
Why work your shoulders?
Aside from looking great, your shoulders are involved in just about everything you do so exercising them will make daily functioning that much easier. In addition, your resistance training program should target all of your muscle groups, so make sure your routine is well-rounded. Your shoulder muscles are fairly small, so you may not be able to use as much weight as you can for your chest or your back. 1 In this article I will focus on your medial and posterior deltoids.
picture of deltoids
There are three areas of your shoulder: the anterior (front) deltoid, the lateral (side) deltoid, and the posterior (rear) deltoid. While this is all one muscle, it is possible to target specific areas with different exercises. The front deltoid is responsible for flexing and rotating the arm inward. The side deltoid’s function is to move the arm away from the body (abduction). The rear deltoid extends the arm and rotates the arm outward.2 There are also your Rotator Cuff Muscles (SITS) but I will save that for another time.
The Shoulder Roll
The Shoulder Roll may be the perfect exercise for you and a simple solution for hunched shoulders before doing the shoulder exercises below. Ester Gokhale (http://www.gokhalemethod.com/blog), states that, “Whether you have back pain, neck pain, bunions, or carpal tunnel syndrome, poor posture could be contributing to your problem. In our experience, improving the body’s physical structure is beneficial for conditions as diverse as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and depression.”
Move one shoulder forward, upward and as far back as you comfortably can without moving your body significantly.
Gently slide your shoulder blade down along your spine. You may feel your shoulder settles further back than normal and feels as though the shoulder soft tissue has been “ratcheted” back a notch.
Repeat on the other side
Benefits of this simple exercise can include:
Better circulation to and from the arms
Greater endurance for repetitive tasks
Improved breathing pattern
Decreased hunching in the upper back
Proper Standing posture is the most important part of any exercise. Make sure your posture is correct before starting any exercise
Head centered over spine
Weight on heels equally weighted on both feet
3 great exercises to get you going!
Lateral shoulder raise
When lifting the weights,
Initiate the movement from your medial deltoids not your hands.
Slowly push your arms to the floor and then lift them up to shoulder height keeping your shoulder blades engaged.
Start with no weights, progress to light weights. I don’t use anything heavier than 5lbs in my class. If properly executed the weights should feel very heavy as you are focusing on the muscle to lift not momentum.
lateral raise side view
Incorrect Posture below
lateral raise side view incorrect
Love the Shoulder Press
Standing with proper posture, use weights that you are comfortable lifting over your head. Often times in class we will use different weights in each hand to challenge the core and other muscles in your body.
Slowly engage the medial deltoid and lift the weights over your head. You can use the full range of motion or any degree of it, use any speed as long as you maintain control and use muscles properly.
shoulder press with weights
You can even challenge yourself and stand on one foot! Add alternating your arms for even more of a core challenge!
shoulder press with weights one foot
Sexy Shoulder Band work
With proper posture, use the band at any tension that you desire.
Pull the band across your chest using your back muscles (not your arms) – to achieve this, engage your “lats” and rhomboids – then with both arms or one at a time pull the band.
Add a squat, a lunge or stand on one leg…the options are endless but don’t lose focus of using your back muscles.
For variations, you can pull the band across the belly button to engage the posterior deltoids differently, add pulses, slow the movement or quicken it.
post delt standing band work
I love using gravity and the back muscles differently by laying down on the floor with the band underneath your chest.
Engage the back muscles and then lift the arms.
Change the angle of the palms, add circles, change the tempo…again so many options but remember the point of the exercise – to strengthen the posterior deltoids and back muscles.
post delt laying down band work
Let me know if you have any questions about technique and I’d love to hear how you work your shoulders!
1& 2 http://exercise.about.com/cs/exerciseworkouts/a/bestshoulders.htm