Strong shoulders not only allow you to perform a variety of movements effectively but can shift the look of your physique.
More shapely shoulders can also make a person’s waist look smaller, whether you’re aiming to create an “hourglass” silhouette or “triangle” one.
Most upper-body exercises use the shoulders to some extent, Storey-Gordon said.
“Muscles don’t work in isolation in the way most people think,” she said. “You will notice this if you have ever injured your shoulder — they are pretty key in many movements.”
The 3 best exercises to build your shoulders
Storey-Gordon shared three of the best exercises for the shoulders.
To ensure that you’re not “cheating” the movement and that your form is correct, Storey-Gordon advises getting a professional to teach you the right technique and make sure you’re focusing on the muscles you’re engaging in while doing the exercises.
The shoulder press can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells, or a machine.
If you’re using a barbell, start in a front rack position, with the bar at shoulder height, feet hip-width apart, and the core engaged.
Lateral raises are performed from a standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms to the side to shoulder height, with a soft bend at the elbow and palms facing the ground, and then lower again.
Be sure to do these in a controlled manner rather than by swinging the dumbbells up, Storey-Gordon said. “They are very humbling,” she said. “You are unlikely to be able to lift as heavy as you can with other exercises or increase the weight as often.”
Rear Delt Flies
To perform rear delt flies, hold a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and bend at the hips so your torso is about 45 degrees to the ground, keeping your back straight with a soft bend in the knee. This is your starting position.
Keeping your head and neck in line with your back, and with a slight bend at the elbow, raise your arms to the side to shoulder level, with the palms facing inwards, and then lower again.
“You can do these with dumbbells, but I prefer to use cables or bands, as you get a more constant tension,” Storey-Gordon said.
She advises performing rear delt flies and lateral raises in higher rep ranges with lower weights (10 to 20 reps per set) rather than lower reps with heavyweights to get the best results.
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