When we workout, it’s fairly common to focus on muscle groups that are visible, such as arms and legs to achieve a toned appearance or gain muscle mass, but shoulder strengthening exercises are also just as important.
Beyond the aesthetic of sculpted shoulders, shoulder training also has several benefits, including enhancing posture, strengthening muscles around the shoulder joint and creating greater stability. As the shoulder joint is one of the most delicate joints in our body, it is worth working towards strengthening and protecting it to reduce the likelihood of injury. This involves training a group of muscles called the ‘rotator cuff’, it is these muscles which are responsible for stabilising the shoulder and giving you a wide range of movement.
If you are unsure where to start with shoulder training, we’ve put together some simple exercises that you can incorporate in to your gym routine.
Alternating dumbbell front raise
Stand with a slight bend in your knees and hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing you. Slowly lift the left dumbbell in front of you until your arm is parallel to the floor, keeping a slight bend in your elbow and the palm of your hand facing down. Then slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and repeat with the right dumbbell.
Dumbbell overhead press
This is a good exercise for increasing shoulder strength and stability. To perform the exercise choose some light dumbbells to begin with. Hold them just above your shoulders with your palms facing forwards then slowly raise your arms straight above your head.
When lifting the dumbbells don’t move your back and it is important not to allow your lower back to arch. This exercise can be done standing or seated on a bench with a back for added support.
Pike press up
From a standard press-up position walk your feet towards your body, raising your hips while keeping your legs straight. Your body should form an inverted V-shape. Then perform a press-up by bending your arms to move your head closer to the floor.
With this exercise you can vary the difficulty and the load on your shoulders by moving your feet closer in or further out. It can also be done with your feet elevated on a box to increase the difficulty.
Take your time with this exercise as it’s fairly challenging but a great way to build shoulder strength.
Barbell upright row
To complete this exercise hold a barbell in front of your waist with an overhand grip and your hands shoulder-width apart. Then, lift the bar to chin height by raising your arms so your elbows finish above the bar. Repeat for 5 reps to start with, with a weight you feel comfortable with.
Battle rope slam
Battle ropes work your shoulders as well as your pectorals and are great for improving mobility and conditioning. There are a variety of exercises you can try but a good intermediate one is battle rope slams.
For slams, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent and hold a battle rope in each hand. Raise the battle ropes simultaneously above your head and slam down as hard as you can. Do this exercise in 60 second intervals.
Medicine ball slam
If you are looking to put your shoulders through their paces then reach for the medicine ball. If possible, use a slam ball, this is a type of medicine ball designed to absorb the impact of landing so it doesn’t bounce or roll away. To start off, stand with the ball on the ground between your feet. Squat down and pick it up with both hands, then push up explosively through your heels raising the ball above your head and going into a triple extension, up on your toes with your arms extended towards the ceiling. The next step is to slam the ball down as hard as you can into the ground just in front of your feet.
If you want to up the cardio demands of this move, aim to catch the medicine ball right after the slam, even a slam ball will have a small amount of bounce.
Now you are armed with some effective shoulder exercises, there is nothing stopping you from working on your shoulder strength. If you’d like help performing any of the exercises detailed above then speak to a member of the 1Life personal training team.