It is really important to train your shoulders to ensure that it remains strong and secure in its socket. Your shoulders do a lot of work for you during the day, from lifting shopping, children, heavy boxes at work to hoovering, mowing the lawn, even lifting things from cupboards, so keeping them in the best condition will help to minimise injury and ensure they function properly.
There are 3 areas of your shoulder (or delts) they are the front, middle and rear. To get the best shoulder workout you want to be targeting all 3 areas equally or, if you are weaker in one area try to focus on that a little more to bring it in line with the others.
Front delts are specifically targeted with Arnold press and front raises, lateral flyes will really get those middle delts, while a great exercise for your rear delts is reverse flyes.
The shoulder muscles are quite large so you may be able to manage a medium to heavy weight but, if you are unsure, start light as you can always increase the weight if you need to.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Dumbbells are at your side with your palms facing inwards, abs are engaged. Lift one arm up in front of you keeping your arm straight (but not locked out) until it reaches shoulder height, turning your palm so it faces the ground. Return the dumbbell to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the other arm. Repeat for 10-12 reps each arm for 2 sets.
The key to this exercise is control and completing the full range of the movement. If you cannot get your arm in line with your shoulder then reduce the weight.
Sit on either a bench, chair or swiss ball with your feet together. Lean forward so that your chest is just above your legs. Keep your spine in a neutral position with your head facing the tops of your legs. Starting with your arms mainly straight but with a slight bend and your hands by your ankles, palms facing inwards, raise your arms to the side until the dumbbells are in line with your shoulders. Return to the starting position. Remember to really squeeze together your shoulder blades to activate your shoulder muscles. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times for 2 sets.
Shoulder press with dumbbells
This can be performed on either a bench, chair or swiss ball. Whichever you choose, the movement is the same. Always engage your core muscles and ensure that you do not arch your back.
Sit on the bench, chair or ball and bring your hands up in line with your shoulders, with a 90 degree bend in your elbows and your palms facing forward. Bring your arms up so that they are above your head and the ends of the dumbbells touch. You are looking for your arms to be straight but with a slight bend in them. Return the dumbbells to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times for 2 sets.
Shoulder press with EZ bar
This movement can be done with a straight bar but utilising the EZ bar helps to put your hands in a better position. In a standing position with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, bring the bar to the starting position: resting on your collar bones, underhand grip and elbows pushing forward. Raise the bar above your head keeping your back straight (not arched) and until your arms are mainly straight and in line with your ears. Return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times for 2 sets.
Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and hands at your sides with palms facing inwards. Lift the dumbbells up so your arms are in line with your shoulders, keeping arms straight with a slight bend at the elbows. Return arms to the starting position. Make sure you engage your core throughout-don’t lean backwards- and keep your shoulders down. The work from this exercise comes from control – don’t swing your arms or use momentum to get them up there. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times for 2 sets.
You can use either a bar and/or dumbbells for this exercise. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold the bar or dumbbells with palms facing the body. Raise the bar upwards keeping it close to the body, bending your elbows out to the side, until your hands reach your collarbone. Return to the starting position. Remember to engage your shoulder muscles and draw your shoulder blades together. Keep your core tight and don’t lean backwards or forwards. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times for 2 sets.
This is Arnold Swarzenegger’s favourite shoulder exercise, hence why it’s named after him, but it is a tricky move so if you haven’t tried it before drop your weights to something pretty light until you’ve cracked the technique.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, soft bend in the knees. Dumbbells are in line with your chin with palms facing towards your face, elbows are tucked into your body. Holding the core tight for stability in one fluid movement turn the palms out and push the arms up above your head remembering not to lock your elbows out at the top. Return the dumbbells to the starting position. Repeat for 2 sets of 8-12 reps.
If you are struggling to get 8 reps, try alternating your arms and to really engage and challenge your abs you could try doing the exercise knelt up.
Remember to keep the whole movement under control – don’t allow the weights to drop back down as this won’t engage your muscles. Don’t arch your back as you extend your arms either – keep your core tight and solid.