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Bigger Shoulders – 6 Exercises For Your Routine

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Shoulders, for men or women, is a key part of the body to define your physique. They can show off strength and tone, and when sized right, create the taper that enhances the appearance of a slimmer waistline. Moreover, good shoulder muscle health and balance is key to good spine and neck posture.

All that said, they are also a muscle group many struggle to develop, despite being used in so many of our exercise motions and daily life.

Deltoid Muscles

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Anterior (front) and Lateral (side) Deltoid Muscles.
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Posterior (rear) Deltoid Muscle.

So whether seeking to enhance your physique, or develop muscles that assist in proper body mechanics, here are techniques to help get you bigger, fuller shoulders:

First, prioritize shoulders in your workout. If you want to focus on developing any particular body part, it needs to be a priority. Sometimes that can be done in the gym, and sometimes in the kitchen – often it is a mix of both. Bottom line, if you want to develop shoulders, you need to focus on them.

Try hitting shoulders twice a week, while limiting every other muscle group to one session, if you really want to blast their growth; this will force them to adapt and grow more than the other muscles. However, remember to strike a balance in your workout plan. Targeting shoulders, or any part is fine for a 5-10 week plan, but should not be the permanent design of your fitness routine.

Standing Barbell Press

Target Muscles: anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids

Set Up: Approach a racked bar, with weight already loaded. Unrack the bar and step back. The bar should be resting in your hands right around your collarbone.

Motion: Tighten your core, tilt your head back, drive the bar above your head with equal exertion on each side. Exhale at the top. In a controlled manner lower the bar back to your starting point. (If too heavy on the lift, or you reach failure, step back, allowing the weight to come in front of your body, and perform a controlled drop of the weight; do not stay with the weight as it goes down, just control it away from your body, and let it go. Do not try and save heavy weight in these types of moves – let them go – it is not worth the risk of injury)

Arnold Press

Target Muscles: anterior, lateral and posterior deltoids

Set Up: Hold a pair of dumbbell weights in front of your shoulders, palms facing your body – as if you had just finished a dumbbell curl.

Motion: In one fluid motion, press the dumbbells up and rotate the palms of your hand to face forward — keep lifting until your arms are extended straight above you. Exhale; pause and lower the weight back to the starting position.

Lateral Raise

Target Muscles: lateral deltoid

Set Up: Stand, or sit, with your core stable, arms extended down your sides, holding light to semi-moderate dumbbell weights. Palms face in, and elbows slightly bent.

Motion: Tighten your core, and raise your arms away from your body until your elbows are as high as your shoulders. Keep palms towards your body. Try not to squeeze during this motion – it can shift the focus onto your trapezius, which one, is not the focus of the exercise, and two, can risk neck strain if done incorrectly. Return your arms to the starting position.

Bent-Over Reverse Fly

Target Muscles: posterior deltoid

Set Up: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other, stand with your knees slightly bent. Bend at the hip joint, keeping your back flat, and core stable.

Motion: Lift both arms to the side with a slight bend in the elbows and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Exhale. Control the weight back to the start position. This exercise does not require a lot of weight to be effective, if proper form is applied to full concentric peak motion, and slow controlled eccentric return to start position.

Upright Row

Target Muscles: anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids

Set Up: Stand upright, holding a barbell using an overhand grip (palms towards your), or dumbbells in the same position.

Motion: Keeping core upright, raise the bar or weights to your shoulders, leading with your elbows. This needs to be a smooth motion; do not jerk, or over-exert in this motion, as it will risk shoulder injury. Pause in this top position; concentrate on the muscle contraction, and then slowly lower the weight back to the start position.

Front Raise

Target Muscles: anterior deltoid

Set Up: Stand upright, with feet about shoulder-width apart. Your arms holding weights should hang down, across your thighs, with palms facing down.

Motion: Tighten your core, and keep your elbows slightly bent, raise your arms upward, keeping them in front of you. Finish the concentric motion when your arms are parallel to the floor/should hight. Exhale, and perform a controlled eccentric motion back to the start position. Be careful with moderate to heave weight on this exercise, due to the leverage stress the motion places on your shoulder. It does not take heavy weight for this exercise to be effective.

As with any weight training program, ensure you properly warm up the muscles and joints prior to the actual weighted portion of the training. This will assist in injury prevention. As always, pain and discomfort in a motion is an indictor your should stop the motion. Consult your physician if you have any specific concerns about exercise.

Lastly, remember the gym is only part of your training. Proper nutrition and rest are also needed to develop, maintain, and achieve your goals. You cannot out train negligence in those areas. “Killing it in the gym” should also mean “killing it in the kitchen” and “killing it in recovery.”

-Train Hard!

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