Get a Great Shoulder Workout - dummies

By LaReine Chabut

You can strengthen your shoulder muscles through four main types of shoulder movements (although dozen of ways exist). Perform the following exercises in the order that they’re listed. In general, you lift the heaviest weights while pressing and the lightest weights while doing back-fly movements.

  • Press: Straighten your arms up over your head. Shoulder-press exercises work the entire shoulder muscle.

  • Lateral raise: Raise your arms from your sides out to shoulder level. Lateral raises focus on the top and outside portions of the muscle.

  • Front raise: Raise your arms from your sides directly in front of you. Front raises work the front and top of the deltoid.

  • Back fly: Bend over from the hips as far as your flexibility permits to align your lift against the pull of gravity. Your chest should be as close to parallel to the ground as possible. Raise your arms out to the sides, working the rear and outside portions of the muscle.

From time to time, vary the order of your exercises to target your weaker muscles first and to provide a variety of stimulation for the muscle group to optimize conditioning. You needn’t include all four types of exercises in each shoulder workout, but you should aim to perform each type on a regular basis so you develop evenly balanced shoulder muscles.

Perform shoulder exercises with free weights rather than machines. Often, the motion feels unnatural with the machine and places excess strain on the neck. For people of diverse sizes, such as petite women, aligning the machine properly can be hard, especially on a machine that’s designed for a larger man’s body.

Your rotator cuff muscles are mighty susceptible to injury. Protect these muscles to some degree by

  • Using proper weight lifting form. Follow the form guidelines for all upper-body exercises.

  • Performing internal and external rotation exercises.

  • Using band exercises. You can do rotator cuff exercises at home or on the road with a rubber exercise band.