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Shapely Shoulders

Shapely Shoulders

We all focus on our obvious muscles when we exercise; we want washboard abs, long, lean legs, a perfect butt and even well toned biceps. What we neglect are the muscles we can’t really see like the chest or muscles – the ones we take for granted, like the shoulders.

Like the legs, our shoulders are our workhorse muscles. We wear them down by carrying oversized purses containing everything but the kitchen sink, we abuse them by sitting for extended hours in front of a computer and only consider them when they demand consideration, that is when you’re sore or worse from incorrect ergonomics.

With summer approaching and our wardrobe moving from jackets and sweaters to halter tops, bikini tops, tank tops, etc., shapely shoulders become all the more important. Apart from the aesthetics, strong shoulders carry many of our burdens (no pun intended) and so it’s only fair we pay attention to them. Here are a few simple exercises you can do either interspersed in your upper body routine when you’re pressed for time, or if you wish, you can dedicate a full workout session to the upper body workhorse muscles that are unfailingly there for you.

If you’re new to weight lifting, check out the article on Attractive Arms for “form and posture” and also understanding the lingo before you continue on. It is critical you maintain good form and posture so you don’t injure yourself. If you’re still not clear on any particular exercise, don’t hesitate to email me at, or use the comment cards below, for clarification; or talk to a trainer at your gym and they’ll be happy to assist you with correct form. You can also do a Google search for any of these exercises on the Internet for images of correct posture. Remember to breathe — exhale when you exert!

Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3×15

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, arms bent at the elbows close to your body with elbows pointing toward the floor, with each palm in line with your chin.
  • Simultaneously raise both arms over your head, so the dumbbells are almost touching each other in a straight line, and your elbows are straight but not locked. Remember to exhale.
  • Return to starting position in a slow and controlled manner.

Lying Rear Deltoid Raises 3×15
These can be done either lying on a bench on your stomach, or standing but bent at the waist at a 90-degree angle.
Lie facedown on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, letting them hang with your elbows bent.

  • Leaving elbows bent at 90-degree angles, simultaneously raise both arms so the elbows are in line with your back and parallel to the floor (think chicken dance arms).
  • Return to starting position.

Front Raises 2×20

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart with a dumbbell in each hand, arms straight by your side, with palms facing the back.
  • Raise your arms straight ahead of you, until they are parallel to the floor with palms facing the floor.
  • Return to starting position.

Lateral or Side Raises 2×20

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart with a dumbbell in each hand, arms straight by your side, with palms turned inward, facing the body.
  • Raise your arms straight out to the sides, until they form a ‘T’ with your body and are parallel to the floor with palms facing the floor.
  • Return to starting position.

Upright Rows 2×20

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, with a dumbbell in each hand, arms straight in front of your body, palms facing the body, with the dumbbells almost touching each other end to end.
  • Bending at the elbows, raise both dumbbells simultaneously to just under your chin in such a manner the elbows are pointing to the ceiling. (Imagine an exaggerated movement of using a manual bicycle pump to fill air in the tires.)
  • Return to starting position.

These last three exercises can be done separately as their own sets, or can be combined, so you do one set of each of the three, and then cycle through and do the second set of each of the three.

These exercises done either as a routine by themselves or combined with other biceps and triceps exercises make a good overall routine for your upper body. These are good moves to add to your repertoire of exercises for your entire upper body.

Shoulders, like bicep muscles are muscles that reward you with visual results fairly quickly, so the next time you hit the gym, don’t ignore those muscles, give them a good workout and see the results over time.

So go ahead, show off those sexy shoulders why don’t you?