Get Bigger, Bolder Shoulders with this Shoulder Strengthening Circuit!

Here’s how to get bigger, bolder shoulders!

An added benefit to performing shoulder exercises is becoming less injury prone.  Our shoulder muscles are important muscles to strengthen because these muscles are responsible for stabilizing this joint during all shoulder movements (flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, and internal and external rotation).  Strong shoulder muscles help prevent shoulder dislocation – anatomically speaking, the humeral head separating from the glenoid fossa of the scapula – during our functional activities of daily living.  The rotator cuff muscles, or S.I.T.S. muscles, are the dominant shoulder muscles.  Specifically, these muscles are supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.  The other muscles of the shoulder joint include: deltoid, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, teres major, coracobrachialis, biceps brachii, and the long head of triceps brachii.

Here are five exercises to get stronger shoulder muscles in no time!

Do 3-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions of each exercise.  Weight (or load) used for each exercise will vary depending on individual strength.  A good rule of thumb is to do more repetitions with light weight or fewer repetitions with heavy weight.  It is important to note that you do not need heavy weight for shoulder strengthening exercises, especially if you are currently rehabbing a past shoulder injury – oftentimes, lifting no weight or only 3-5 pound dumbbells can be most beneficial!

Rest 1 minute between each set.

  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (Anterior and Medial Deltoids)

Sit on a low-back seat or incline bench, and place legs in front of body.  Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and raise both dumbbells above shoulders with palms facing out. Maintain a tight core musculature, and avoid elbows dropping too low.  Exhale, and press the dumbbells overhead until elbows are extended but not locked out.  Stop motion shortly before the dumbbells touch each other.  Return to start position.

  • Standing Upright Row with Rope (Medial and Posterior Deltoids)

Hold the rope attachment between fingers with palms placed against the balls of the rope.  Stand with legs and feet together, body weight pressed through heels, knees slightly bent, shoulders and core tight, and elevate shoulders to ears before pulling the rope up.  Next, pull the rope in an upward arc motion as elbows are brought out to sides and the rope comes towards chin.  Keep hands at elbow height as they move towards the sides of body.  Return to start position.

  • Standing Barbell Front Raise (Anterior Deltoid and Pectoralis Major)

Stand with feet and legs together, core tight, shoulders down and back, and hold a barbell with hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing down.  Keep wrists down as if gripping the barbell with fingertips.  It may help to face sideways towards the mirror in order to view where to stop the movement.  Maintain tight core musculature and do not swing during the motion.  Exhale, and raise the barbell up and stop when arms reach a 90-degree position from the shoulder joint. Return to start position.

  • Kneeling Lateral Raises with Dumbbells (Medial Deltoid)

Kneel on bench, core tight, shoulders down and back, and hold a dumbbell in each hand at sides with palms facing towards the body.  Keep neck relaxed, look forward, and do not arch low back.  Keep thumbs rotated down slightly and squeeze scapulae (shoulder blades) together at the top of the motion.  Exhale, and raise both dumbbells away from the sides of the body, staying in line with shoulders or slightly higher.  Return to start position, and avoid touching the dumbbells to thighs at end of motion – this will keep tension on medial deltoid.  This exercise can also be performed in a seated position.

  • Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raises (Posterior Deltoid, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Shoulder girdle muscles)

Sit at the end of a bench with feet together and flat on the floor.  Bend over and bring chest towards the knees (to about a 45-degree angle), holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing towards the outside of the calves.  Look downward with head in a neutral position.  Maintain a slight bend in the elbows with hands turned inward.  Exhale, and raise the dumbbells up and out to the sides of the body, maintaining a bent over position and arms in good alignment with the shoulder joints.  Squeeze scapulae (shoulder blades) together at the top of the motion and then slowly return to the starting position.  Do not raise arms too high!  Dumbbells should be seen in peripheral vision.

Questions? Comments? Additional exercises to add? Please post below!

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About rrluthi

Certified fitness expert with a passion for educating and empowering "chronologically-enriched" clients about the benefits of adopting and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle and preventing injury. Proven strengths applying cutting-edge fitness/wellness concepts and research through roles as a health coach, fitness trainer, and group exercise instructor—in addition to promoting these concepts in a more systematic way through blogging and social media, community outreach, public speaking, and corporate wellness program facilitation.
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