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How YOU can get beautiful shoulders

May 26, 2010

 “A woman’s shoulders are the front lines of her mystique.”

– Al Pacino as John Milton, “The Devil’s Advocate”

“I often think that a slightly exposed shoulder emerging from a long satin nightgown packed more sex than two naked bodies in bed.”

– Bette Davis

Hehe, I love Bette Davis. And she had it right!

You just can’t beat pretty shoulders! Especially this time of year, when sleeveless tops and tanks are meant to showcase them!

It’s ironic, then, isn’t it, that a little work with the weights will give you such a lovely feminine attribute? 

And so nice that you can have them–no matter what’s going on anywhere below your shoulders!

Here’s a great and simple shoulder workout:

  1. Seated DB shoulder presses
  2. DB side laterals  – Superset these with:
  3. DB front laterals
  4. Bentover DB laterals

This shouldn’t take you long. Perform 4 sets for the first exercise, and 3 sets on all the others.

Shoulder Press: Your first exercise is a basic compound movement which will help put a little muscle on your shoulders. You can do presses seated or standing. If you do them seated, find a straight-back bench and keep your back pressed against the seat back for stability.

If you do standing shoulder presses, you’ll probably have to lighten the weight a tad. Be sure to hold your abs tight (tighten your core!) so you have optimum stability to perform the movement safely and effectively.

Front and side laterals: These can be performed efficiently as a superset. (Lateral means “away from the body.” You might also hear these called front raises or side raises.) The front laterals can also be performed using a bar. Don’t go too heavy!

To superset these two exercises, you’ll raise the DBs out to the sides of your body (getting your 8-12 reps), and then in front of your body (for another 8-12 reps). Ow! Your shoulders should be burning a bit. That’s to be expected. But if you feel pain, STOP.  

  • Side laterals (AKA lateral raises): Lift your arms straight out to the sides, to about shoulder height. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. To focus on the medial delts (the part that will give you that nice, rounded shoulder), tilt your hands as if you’re pouring tea. That is, your thumbs will be somewhat down, your pinkies will be up (closest to the celing).


  • Front laterals (AKA front raises):  If the weight feels heavy, you can alternate your arms to make the exercise a bit less strenuous. Go right arm up, then down, left arm up, then down. Lift the DBs up in front of you, keeping a slight bend in the elbow, to about the height of your face. It feels most comfortable to me when I slightly arc the DBs in a bit at the top of the movement, so that they are roughly in front of my face (rather than further out, in front of my shoulders).

Bentover rows: Finally, don’t forget your rear delts. You can do the bentover rows seated or standing. Either way, they’ll finish off the posterior (rear) deltoid muscles nicely. You’ll most likely have to go lighter on this exercise.

As always, form is more important than weight!

When to train shoulders

I like to prioritize shoulders, so I put them at the beginning of the week when I have the most energy. Currently, I train them with triceps.

But you can schedule your shoulder workout in any number of ways:

  • as part of a full body workout
  • after a larger bodypart, such as chest or back
  • or first before you do triceps and/or biceps

The key is to train larger body parts first in your workout. Why? Well,  if, for example, you train triceps before shoulders, you won’t have as much arm strength left to get enough quality reps when you work your shoulders.

Similarly, if you train shoulders before chest, you won’t have enough strength to give your chest a proper workout. Your front (anterior) shoulder muscles will be fatigued, so you’ll have trouble getting as many good chest presses as you otherwise might.

If any of these moves are new to you, and if you belong to a gym, don’t be shy about asking a personal trainer to check your form. (Of course, not when he or she is in the middle of training someone!)

Go light to start, until you get the form down. Then add a little weight as you can safely do so, while maintaining proper exercise form.

If you perform this workout with concentration and care, pushing yourself to get 8-12 reps, then once a week should do it!

Flickr photo, rim division

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