Not all rankings are created equal. In sports, for instance, lists of “the best” are about as meaningless as they are pervasive. Best player of all time, best teams, best games, best catches, best Twitter rant … they’ve all been done before in magazine pages, argued by blowhards filling airtime on radio and TV and plastered across the Internet as click bait.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? In the end, it really doesn’t matter at all, does it?

Think of it this way: Determining that Michael Jordan is better than LeBron James or that the 1927 New York Yankees were better than the 1998 Yankees, who were better than the 1939 Yankees — we know, we know, damn friggin’ Yankees — isn’t going to improve your life. At most, it may earn you a free beer from a buddy in a drunken bar bet.

See Also 10 Best Biceps Exercises

Not all such lists, however, are totally devoid of worth. Take the one you’re about to read, counting down the 10 best weight-training exercises to develop your shoulders. Even if you disagree with the final outcome or grumble over the order, in the end, you’re left with something very valuable: 10 proven ways to build bigger, denser, wider delts.

Yes, from 10 through 1, each of these exercises can settle one very important question: Just what are you going to do next time shoulders roll around in your training split?

Contents

Cable Reverse Flye

Exercises that specifically target the rear head of the deltoid muscle pop up three times on this list, and with good reason — the rear delts don’t tend to get much attention. But for shoulders that will fill out your T-shirts, you’re gonna need rear delts that can keep pace with the meaty front and middle delts. Those latter two get additional work during chest and shoulder presses, while the rears really need ample attention of their own to thrive. For that, the reverse flye comes to the rescue, adding a dimension of muscle control and balance that the more popular reverse pec-deck flye cannot match.

Main Area Targeted: rear deltoids

Strengths: Like all cable-based moves, the key attribute is continual tension on the muscles being worked. Unlike dumbbells, barbells and some machines, on which the tension eases at certain points of the range of motion because of gravity and inertia — with cables, the resistance is always counter-pulling, in this case meaning your rear delts never get a break as you rep.

How-To:Attach D-handles to the upper pulley of a cable machine. Now grasp the left-side handle in your right hand, then step over and get the right-side handle in your left before stepping to the center, equidistant from each stack. Straighten your elbows without locking them out, your palms in a neutral grip. From here, keeping your arms elevated at the level of your shoulders and elbows fixed, open your arms out to your sides, pulling each handle across to the other side by engaging your rear delts. When you reach a point at which your arms are outstretched in a “open hug” pose, reverse the motion to bring the handles back to the start position. Know that one hand will cross over the other when in front — it doesn’t matter which is high and which is low, although you can switch from set to set if you prefer.

Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Some would argue that the one-arm bent-over lateral raise — allowing you to focus all your effort on one side at a time — is superior to the two-armed version. We disagree. The unilateral version increases the ability to cheat, allowing you to rotate more at the waist when repping. Doing both arms at the same time cuts down on that kind of momentum, putting more pressure on your rear delts to carry the load.

Main Area Targeted: rear deltoids

Strengths:The bent-over raise is versatile and can be performed either standing or seated at the end of a flat bench leaning over your knees. And the use of dumbbells means other muscles come into play for stabilization — which may not mean a heck of a lot for your rear delts but does help create a more functional physique overall.

How-To: With a dumbbell in each hand and your chest up, back flat, knees slightly bent and eyes fixed on a point on the floor just ahead of you, bend over at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang directly beneath you with your elbows fixed in a slightly bent position. From there, powerfully raise the dumbbells up and out to your sides in an arc until your upper arms are about parallel with the floor. Pause at the top for a squeeze, then lower the dumbbells back along the same path, stopping just before your arms go fully perpendicular to the floor, and start the next rep.

One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise

For those of you already fretting that this list has begun with three isolation movements instead of major compound exercises, take note — the shoulder is a smaller muscle group that benefits greatly from such targeted weaponry. The thing is, presses tend to lean most heavily on the anterior (front) delt, leaving the side and rear heads slightly less stimulated. That’s not to say presses aren’t ideal in many ways (as you’ll see as you keep reading), but for complete shoulders, you also want to exhaust each head on its own. And when it comes to the middle delt, nothing beats a lateral raise.

Main Area Targeted: middle deltoids

Strengths:Just like the cable reverse flye, the cable here offers constant tension, in this case right on the prominent middle delt that splits the center of the deltoid muscle. The ease of switching between resistance via the pin on the weight stack also makes cable raises ideal for drop sets to failure. For a different feel, you can try these with the cable running behind your back instead of across the front of your body.

How-To:Stand sideways to a low cable pulley with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a D-handle in the hand opposite the pulley. Your nonworking arm can be on your hips or braced on the pulley structure. Keep your abs tight, chest up and shoulders back and, without engaging momentum, raise the cable out to your side in a wide arc, keeping your elbow and hand moving together in the same plane. When your arm reaches a point just above shoulder level, hold it momentarily as you contract the delt, then slowly lower down along the same path, stopping before the weight stack touches down. Finish all reps on that side before switching to the other.

Cable Front Raise

You could take the first four moves in this list, throw ’em in a bag and dump them out in any order you wish. Doesn’t matter — they’re all about equal in their benefits for the respective delt head they target. In the case of the cable front raise, you’ll call on the anterior delt to take on the load, benefiting again from that continuous tension the cable provides. One caveat: If your shoulder workout is heavy on presses, you’ll want to prioritize the lateral and rear-delt raises, but from a purely muscle-sculpting perspective, the cable raise to the front is brutally effective.

Main Area Targeted: anterior (front) deltoids

Strengths:The placement of the cable in side laterals across your body can cause some awkwardness because of the drag. That’s eliminated with front raises, which allow the cable to roam free during the range of motion. It’s a small benefit, sure, but it eliminates a minor distraction when repping.

How-To: With a D-handle in one hand, stand in a staggered shoulder-width stance with your back to a low cable pulley. Place your nonworking hand on your hip for balance. With your chest elevated, back flat and knees slightly bent, powerfully raise the cable up and out in front of you until your upper arm is about parallel with your working shoulder. Squeeze, then slowly lower your arm back to the start position (without letting the stack touch down) and repeat. Do all reps on one side before switching to the other.

Push Press

Heavy-compound-exercise fans — here you go. The push press is an absolute powerhouse, combining a heavy overhead action with just enough momentum to handle serious challenging loads. It makes an effective leadoff exercise for a mass-gain-focused shoulder workout, as long as you make sure to start light (with the naked bar, even) to get thoroughly warmed up before stepping up to the big-boy poundage.

Main Areas Targeted: anterior and middle deltoids

Strengths: The push press is a closed-kinetic-chain exercise, meaning the legs remain on the floor (a fixed surface). The motion calls on multiple muscle groups, from your legs to your shoulders to your arms, to work synergistically, introducing functional components to what otherwise may be a very bodybuilding-centric workout routine. In other words, movements like the push press help ensure your muscles aren’t just all show and no go when it comes time to actually use them in your daily life.

How-To:To get into position, either clean a loaded barbell from the floor to shoulder level or take it off pins in a power rack. Hold the bar with an overhand grip, palms up and elbows pointed forward, your upper arms near parallel with the floor as the bar rests at a point atop your upper chest. From a standing position, lower your hips and bend your knees to dip down into a quarter squat. Now recoil to explosively drive upward with your legs as you extend your arms and lift the bar overhead to full elbow extension. Hold the bar there briefly, then lower it back to its resting position on your upper-chest area and descend into the next rep.

Wide-Grip Smith-Machine Upright Row

In bodybuilding circles, you’ll come across your fair share of people who hate the Smith machine. Passionately so. To them, it represents a crime against weightlifting, taking a trusty barbell and putting it on a track. It’s like training wheels for the gym.

We agree in one sense — trading out all your free-weight barbell moves for the Smith versions would give you a less-effective workout overall. But then again, the Smith, when used judiciously, can help you gain strength, beat sticking points, learn body control in relative safety and, in the case of the upright row, even improve (gasp!) on the typical barbell version.

Main Areas Targeted:anterior, middle and rear deltoids; trapezius

Strengths:The upright row is often thought of mostly as a middle-delt exercise, but research has revealed that the wide-grip row engages the rear delts to some extent, as well. While you may assume a barbell or dumbbell upright row might be preferable — free weights get all the love — using the Smith machine in this case helps reduce unwanted stress on the back and shoulder joints because the bar is a bit out in front of you instead of in contact with your torso.

How-To:With your feet hip-width apart, stand upright, holding the bar of a Smith machine in front of your thighs with an overhand grip a few inches outside shoulder width. Twist the bar to release it from the safety latches and let your arms hang straight, maintaining a slight bend in your knees and a tight core. Flex your shoulders to pull the bar straight up toward your chin, keeping the bar close to your body throughout. In the top position, your elbows will be high and pointing out to your sides. Hold that spot for a second before slowly lowering to the start position.

Face Pull

It sounds like an item on the to-do list of an aging Hollywood starlet, but the face pull in this case is actually for a different type of sculpting — creating pronounced, striated rear delts. Uniquely, it’s a multi-joint rear-delt exercise, setting it apart from other rear-delt-specific moves.

Main Areas Targeted:rear deltoids, middle trapezius

Strengths: The benefit of the face pull (and what makes it superior to traditional bent-over dumbbell and cable raises) is the fact that it calls the middle traps into play and incorporates some leverage, allowing you to handle more weight overall. This additional muscle overload leads directly to growth.

How-To: Put a rope attachment on a pulldown station, and make sure you select a heavy enough weight to counterbalance your weight. Stand in front of the pulley and grasp each end of the rope with an overhand grip so your palms are facing each other, then lift your elbows up to shoulder level and to the sides. Now place one foot on the kneepad, which in this case helps anchor you better than keeping both feet on the floor. To start, lean back so your body forms a 45-degree angle to the floor and, keeping your elbows elevated, pull the rope back toward your face until your hands are alongside your ears. Squeeze, then reverse to the start, not letting the weight stack touch down between reps.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

We could point out plenty of flaws in the dumbbell lateral raise. The level of resistance is uneven at various points of the range of motion, and there’s even a dead spot if you bring the weights down in front of your body to start each rep. With some action at the hips, cheating via momentum is all too easy. And honestly, it’s one of the most abused exercises at the gym, with guys hoisting way too much weight in what is supposed to be a precise isolation exercise. That said, though, the lateral raise is still a must-do movement for wider, more impressive delts. You just need to focus on doing it right.

Main Area Targeted: middle deltoids

Strengths: We’ve listed its weaknesses, but don’t let those dissuade you. Lateral raises put an impressive amount of tension on the middle delts, even if you do end up cheating a little on your final few reps approaching muscle failure. That’s because they attack the target muscle in exactly the way they’re intended to function, bringing your arms upward and out, away from your body. By adjusting your grip just a little, angling so your thumb side is a little lower than your pinkie side (as if you were pouring water out of a jug), you engage the middle head even more.

How-To: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your abs tight, chest up and shoulders back. With your head straight, hold the dumbbells at your sides with a neutral grip. Without using momentum, raise the dumbbells out to your sides in a wide arc, keeping your elbows and hands moving together in the same plane. Raise the dumbbells just above shoulder level and hold momentarily in the peak contracted position. Slowly lower the dumbbells down along the same path and repeat for reps.

Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

If you dream of having huge, barn-door shoulders and you haven’t tried a barbell press, here’s a reality check: You ain’t trying hard enough. This press isn’t for sissies — it’s challenging, somewhat uncomfortable and in all ways a high-intensity activity. That said, it’s also one of the best, most efficient ways to get from Point A to Point B in your deltoid development.

Main Areas Targeted: anterior, middle and rear deltoids

Strengths:“For a heavier load, the barbell is more appropriate ,” says David Hooper, MA, CSCS, doctoral fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. “It would be perfectly safe, for instance, to go to a three- to five-rep-max load and perform the barbell press, while that would really not be appropriate for the dumbbell press — it would just be awkward getting the dumbbells into place, for one.”

How-To:Find a barbell press station — not all gyms have one, so you may have to make one yourself using a low-back bench set inside a power rack. Sit erect, keeping your lower back slightly arched and your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the bar outside of shoulder width with a palms-forward grip, elbows pointing down and outward. Carefully unrack the bar and hold it at shoulder level. In a smooth, strong motion, press the bar straight up to just short of elbow lockout. Squeeze, then lower the bar under control to a point right at your upper chest and clavicle area. Be sure to pull your face back as the bar passes to avoid giving yourself an impromptu nose job.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The dumbbell shoulder press beats out the barbell version, but only by a nose. Either one can anchor a complete deltoid routine, and ideally, they would be rotated regularly with one another over the course of weeks or months, according to Hooper. That said, the dumbbell press allows the arms to flare out a little more to your sides, which targets the middle delts — and when it comes to width, mass and overall roundness (think “cannonball”), the middle delts are the most important of the three heads. Meanwhile, the barbell press relies more on the front delt, which is also important, but is usually already thicker in most guys, thanks to heavy incline bench pressing.

Main Areas Targeted: anterior, middle and rear deltoids

Strengths: While you can’t handle the same loads as you can with a barbell, the dumbbell press offers additional benefits. “The seated dumbbell press would require a little more coordination, and having two separate dumbbells always prevents any strength imbalances,” Hooper explains. “For example, in a machine, you can push more with one side than the other . You can’t do that with dumbbells; you have to complete each motion exclusively.”

How-To: Sit on a low-back bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand above shoulder level with a pronated grip (palms facing forward). Keep your head straight, spine aligned and eyes focused forward with your shoulders shifted back as you press the dumbbells overhead in an arc toward each other — but don’t let them touch at the top. After a squeeze, reverse the motion under control to the start position and repeat.

The best thing you can do to avoid injuries and keep making gains is to warm up properly before every workout. If you typically skip a warmup—who has time?—think about it this way: “If you don’t make the time now, you’ll be forced to make time for injury later,” Tamir says. “Now it’s within your choice to take five minutes and do a warmup; later it won’t be your choice, and you’ll be forced to deal with an injury.”

Try these exercises from Oetter.

Lat Hang
This is great for alleviating the tight lats, pecs, and upper back that result from our typical texting or desk posture. It opens up the shoulder girdle prior to upper-body pushing or pulling movements.
Place a box or bench below a pullup bar. Step onto the box so your feet are shoulder-width apart and slightly in front of you. Keeping your feet on the bench, grasp the bar and let your torso hang so you feel the stretch in your armpits and across your chest. Tuck your pelvis under, inhale through your nose, and slowly exhale through pursed lips. Your ribs should feel like they are moving down as you exhale. Pause 3 seconds, then repeat. Do 2 sets of 6 breaths.

Modified All-Fours Belly Lift
This exercise helps “pop out the dent” that Oetter says is typical in a flattened upper back while also activating your core muscles and key upper-body stabilizers for shoulder health.
Come to all fours and round your spine by arching your back upward and tucking your butt under you. Shift your body weight forward so your nose is over your fingertips. (You should feel your outer abdominals.) From this position, raise your left hand off the floor a few inches without twisting your trunk. (You should feel your right abdominal wall engage.) Hold for 6 deep breaths, focusing on trying to breathe into and stretch your upper back. Lower your left hand and repeat, lifting your right hand off the floor. Do 2 sets of 6 breaths per side.

Groiner With Overhead Reach
This combines many of our targets (hip mobility, ribcage rotation, shoulder mobility, etc.) into a single ground-based movement.
Get in a pushup position. Step your right foot outside your right hand. Drop your left knee down to the ground so you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Press your left hand into the ground and reach your right arm toward the sky, rotating through your upper back to open your chest and following your hand with your eyes. Place your right hand back on the ground and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do 6 reps per side.

All-Fours Belly Lift Walk
This movement helps solidify a healthy arms-overhead position while also adding some inhibitory work for the hamstrings and calves. Come to all fours and round your back. Lift your knees and straighten your legs. Contract your abdominal muscles as you bend your knees and “walk” your feet closer to your hands, taking small steps. (Your hands should not move.) Maintaining the contraction of your abdominals in this position with your back rounded and your heels driving toward the ground, hold the position for 6 deep breaths.

During this exercise, “reach” into the ground to activate the shoulder stabilizers.

It’s no secret that your posture influences the way you perceive yourself. It can affect your attitude, feelings and commitment to self-improvement or a fitness goal. Truth be told, good posture can make you look taller, broader and stronger, and it can make you feel more confident and capable. Good posture can even improve your mood, reduce back pain and decrease stress.

Alternatively, bad posture can make you look short, hunched and weak, making you feel self-conscious and less able.

This is quite a drastic difference. Maybe when reading the first description, you immediately feel a certain way. Maybe it conjured an image or sparked a desire.

Compare this to the second description, which created an opposite reaction. It creates a reality that you want to reject. Even if it’s true, you immediately want to disassociate with it.

What is posture?

Posture is the positioning of your body or arrangement of your limbs in relation to your body. Ideal posture is the correct alignment of the body in relation to the activity being performed and the requirements of the body to complete the action. As such, your posture will be different when you are standing, sitting and moving.

How does your posture get bad?

Humans are creatures of habit; you do the same things day in and day out—without realizing that over time these things have a negative effect. Whether it’s leaning on one leg when standing or spending too much time sitting, these things cause your posture to slowly deteriorate.

Because it’s so incremental, you avoid facing that these habits have a profound effect on your quality of life and self-confidence. Instead, you favor living with the issue.

Then, one day you look in the mirror and realize that your body is out of sync; your neck is out of alignment, your shoulders are rounded, anterior pelvic tilt has set in, and you even have a one legged lean.

It’s only at this point that you begin to entertain the idea of fixing these issues once and for all. But where do you start? This post will show you exactly how to fix the most common postural problems.

Why is posture important?

If ignored, bad posture can and will cause all sorts of problems, including daily aches and pains, poor lifting form, muscular imbalances, negative self-image and low body confidence. The correction of bad or weak posture will help all of these issues.

Good posture can radically change the way you perceive yourself. It can take you from shy, reserved and self-conscious to confident, strong and capable.

This will become increasingly evident as we look at the most common postural issues, their causes, the effect they have on you, how to fix them, and the benefits you get from doing so.

Forward Neck

Cause and effect:

Generally, a forward neck develops as part of the modern “computer posture” and from leaning forward to complete everyday tasks such as cooking, washing up and using the phone. Over time, the development of forward neck gives the appearance of a “chicken” like neck, with the head protruding forward from the shoulders.

The fix:

To remedy your forward neck posture, try performing the chin tuck, as prescribed by Morgan Sutherland, L.M.T., an award-winning massage therapist. Morgan explains the chin tuck, “ with your shoulders rolled back and down. Look straight ahead, place two fingers on your chin, slightly tuck your chin and move your head back. Hold for three to five seconds and then release. Repeat 10 times.”

This exercise will help reverse your forward neck by strengthening your neck muscles.

Hunched Back

Cause and effect:

Also known as postural kyphosis, hunched back is the excessive curvature of the upper back. Symptoms can vary from purely aesthetic to pain and stiffness.

The fix:

#1. Stretch your chest

Find an open doorframe and place your bent arms against either side of the door with your elbows in line with your shoulders. Adopt a staggered stance and push your chest forward until you feel a stretch in the chest. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds or until the muscles relax before forcibly pushing your elbows against the doorframe to create muscular tension (try not to generate any movement) for five seconds. Relax and increase the stretch. Repeat three times. Then, hold the stretch in place for 30–60 seconds.

#2. Release chest tightness with massage ball

Holding a massage ball with both hands, roll the ball around your chest muscle looking for areas of tightness. When you find the tight areas, apply pressure to help ease the tension. Massage each side of your chest two to three times for approximately 30 seconds.

#3. Foam roll upper back muscles

Place the foam roller in your mid-back. From here, cross your arms over your chest. Keeping your butt on the floor, extend your back over the roller and hold at points of tension for 10–15 seconds.

#4. Strengthen upper back postural muscles using prone back extensions

Lie face down on an exercise mat with your arms extended in front of you in a Y position. From here, keeping your arms extended and head in line with your spine, gently lift your torso off the ground. Hold for five to 10 seconds before gently returning to the start position. Repeat for three sets of eight repetitions.

Prone back extensions are great for not only strengthening the upper back postural muscles but also the lower back extensor muscles. Simultaneously, you are stretching the abs and chest.

Rounded Shoulders

Cause and effect:

Round shoulders develop through poor posture in a variety of positions used daily, including sitting for long periods, driving for long periods, and using a smart phone or tablet.

Tight chest muscles pull your shoulders forward, closing your chest and causing the shoulders to round. This makes you look shorter and causes you to adopt a more dismissive posture.

When you add weak upper back muscles to the mix, you have nothing to help counterbalance this rounding. If left untreated, it can cause pain through the back and contribute to overall bad posture.

The fix:

To fix rounded shoulders, stretch the chest and shoulders and build strength in the upper back.

#1. Stretch your chest

Using an open doorframe, place your bent arms against either side of the door with your elbows in line with your shoulders. Adopt a staggered stance and push your chest forward until you feel a stretch in the chest. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds or until the muscles relax before forcibly pushing your elbows against the doorframe to create muscular tension (try not to generate any movement) for five seconds. Relax and increase the stretch. Repeat this three times before holding the stretch in place for 30–60 seconds.

#2. Work on your shoulder mobility

Using a rolled up towel or smooth foam roller, lie on the floor with the towel or roller running down the length of your back. Holding light weights (5 lbs. is enough) straighten your arms wide until you feel a stretch through the front of the shoulders and chest. Hold for 30–60 seconds.

#3. Perform pull-ups to build your upper back strength

Grab an overhead bar with a wide grip (approximately shoulder width apart) and your palms facing away from you. From a dead hang position, contract your back and draw your elbows toward your sides to bring you up to the bar. Finish at the top with your back fully contracted and your chin above the bar. In a slow, controlled manner, lower yourself back down to the starting position before repeating the motion. Aim to build up to three sets of eight with two to three minutes of rest in between sets.

#4. Perform inverted rows to build your upper back strength

Using either a Smith machine or squat rack where the bar can be held in place (use weights to hold the bar down), grab the bar with a wide grip and palms facing away from you. Hang from the bar so your shoulders are beneath your hands and your back is a couple of inches from the floor. Straighten your body, dig your heels into the floor, and tighten your core. From this position, pull your upper body toward the bar, keeping your body straight and your core tight. Hold at the top before lowering yourself in a controlled manner. Shoot for three sets of eight repetitions with two to three minutes of rest in between.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Cause and effect:

Anterior pelvic tilt is another way of saying your pelvis is tilted forwards. It’s caused by sitting incorrectly, sitting too much, weak or inactive hamstrings and glutes, and tight quadriceps and hip flexors.

The glutes, hamstrings and abdominals work to rotate the hips backwards, which results in a more upright posture and flatter stomach. Naturally, when they are weak or inactive, they contribute to the hips rotating forward. Tight hip flexors and quads make this problem worse by pulling on your hips, rotating them forward and causing anterior pelvic tilt.

Anterior pelvic tilt varies in severity. If you have it, your lower back arch is pronounced, your butt sticks out, and your stomach protrudes forward—giving the appearance that you have a big tummy even if you don’t. If left untreated, it can also cause pain and tightness throughout the body.

The fix:

There are three steps to fixing your anterior pelvic tilt: stretching tight muscles, strengthening weak muscles, and maintaining a neutral pelvis position everyday.

#1. Stretch the hip flexors

Get in a lunge position with your back knee on the floor. Maintaining an upright body position, squeeze your glute muscle on the back leg and push the hips forwards. Hold this position for 30–60 seconds, increasing the depth of the stretch as you adapt. To increase the stretch, try taking the arms up overhead.

#2. Stretch the quadriceps

Standing straight, bend one leg and take hold of the ankle. Keeping your body in line, pull the heel of the bent leg as close to your glute as possible. Squeeze the glute, push the hips forward and hold the stretch. If you are having trouble balancing, grab hold of something with your free hand or perform this exercise lying face down on the floor. Hold the stretch for 30–60 seconds on each leg.

#3. Perform bridge holds to build strength in the glutes and hamstrings

Lying on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Keeping your back and core flat, bring your heels as close to your bum as possible. From here, focus on squeezing your glutes to lift your hips up and bring your body into a straight line. Hold at the top before slowly lowering back down. Repeat for eight repetitions. Rest for one to two minutes, then completed two more sets. You can use your arms for stability if you need to.

#4. Perform plank holds to build strength in the glutes, hamstrings and abdominals

Adopt a push-up position, but instead of being on your hands, rest your weight on your forearms. You want your body to be in a straight, neutral position with your head looking down, your back elongated, and your hips in-line (no sagging and not in the air) with your knees and legs straight. If someone were to place a broomstick on your back, it should make contact with your head, upper back and hips all at the same time. Contract your abs, imagine you are sucking your belly button into your spine, squeeze your glutes, and hold this position for 30–60 seconds. If this is too difficult, you can hold the half plank until you have the strength to hold the full plank.

One Legged Lean

Cause and effect:

One legged lean is caused by placing the majority of your body weight on one leg whenever standing. We do it without thinking all the time; when we’re waiting for the train, chatting on the phone or just standing around. It’s a bad postural habit that can lead to a variety of problems, including but not limited to knee pain, ankle pain, bad hip alignment and additional stress on the body.

The fix:

The fix is simple, depending on your ability to program a new habit. All you need to do is make a new habit of not favoring one leg. Instead, consciously remind yourself to adopt a standing stance where your weight is evenly distributed.

To do this, stand with your feet hip to shoulder width apart when possible. This will help you distribute your weight evenly across both legs.

Summing up

In a world in which we spend so much of our time sitting down, you’ll be surprised how quickly your posture can deteriorate without you realizing it. One morning, you wake up in pain, feeling stiff and out of alignment. You’re left wondering how you got there and what to do about it.

With this post, you can remove the guesswork and use the exercises described to start improving your posture and confidence today.

Theo is the founder of Lift Learn Grow, a blog that helps men build the body of their dreams without sacrificing their lifestyle. With a focus on lifting heavy weights and eating the foods you enjoy, Theo helps you reach your goals and love your journey. Join a growing community with his free training program and nutrition cheat sheet.

Chad Hollmer’s Wide-Back, Boulder-Shoulder Workout

No well-developed physique would be complete without a proper V-taper. A wide upper back and broad shoulders that taper down to a narrow waist is the very definition of aesthetics. I’ve worked hard to achieve this look, and have found the best strength and hypertrophy gains by working back and shoulders twice per week.

My Wide-Back, Boulder-Shoulder Workout is usually the second back-and-shoulder workout in my split. The primary goal for this workout is to build strength, but of course I throw in a little hypertrophy work, too! I like to hit my back first, and then move into the shoulder exercises after a short break. This is a fast-paced workout though, so don’t worry about being in the gym too long.

The workout starts off light to pump some blood into the muscles and get them warmed up. As we move along, we’ll work up to heavier weights and more strenuous movements. By the time we’re though, you’re back and shoulders will be screaming for mercy.

Ready to get to work? Let’s do it!

Chad Hollmer’s Wide-Back, Boulder-Shoulder Workout 1 Superset 3 sets, 5 reps + 6 more exercises

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Superset: Pull-up/dumbbell pull-over

Superset: Pull-up/dumbbell pull-over

The first thing we’ll do today is a superset. Perform 5 pull-ups, then immediately move to a set of dumbbell pull-overs with no rest between movements. Do the first set of pull-ups with a wide grip, switch to a closer, neutral grip for the second set, and finish with an underhand grip for the final set.

While performing the dumbbell pull-over, slow down. I want you to feel the weight and know you’re really doing the work rather than blowing through the reps as quickly as possible. This means you’ll need to grab a dumbbell you can move in a slow, controlled manner.

Because you’re contracting your lats on every rep of this superset, they’re going to be pumped by the time you’re done. I promise you’ll feel it tomorrow when you wake up!

Single-arm bent-over dumbbell row

Single-arm bent-over dumbbell row

Begin with a lighter weight for your first set of dumbbell rows, and get heavier as the reps go down. Get a good grip on the dumbbell and focus on squeezing your elbow back to your hip—don’t let it swing wide. Squeeze at the top and lower the weight back down slowly.

Seated underhand pull-down

Seated underhand pull-down

As with the dumbbell row, you’ll use lighter weight to start, and move the pin down with each set. You’ll also change your grip slightly as you go along: Use a wide grip on the first set, bring your hands in a bit for the second set, and finish with a narrow grip.

With back movements, I’ve found the negative portion (eccentric) is more important than the concentric (lifting). Think about it: If you want a muscle to grow, you have to stretch it out. On back movements, the stretch occurs when you’re lowering the weight. So, take your time through the eccentric part of the lifts.

Seated close-grip cable row

Seated close-grip cable row

Using a close grip on this exercise enables you to get a good, strong contraction on each rep. These sets should be fairly heavy. Choose a weight that’s heavy enough so you fail at about 8 reps. If you still have a few more reps in the tank, you’re not going heavy enough.

By now you should be feeling pretty tired. Power through the last 2 sets and then take a quick break before you move on to shoulders.

Shoulder Workout

Take a drink, walk around for a minute, and get ready to transition into your shoulder workout.

Superset: standing lateral raise/single-arm upright row

Superset: standing lateral raise/single-arm upright row

Once again, we’ll start with a superset to pump blood into the muscles. You’ve already warmed up your shoulders quite a bit during the back workout, so it won’t take much. Be sure to do lateral raises with control. Don’t swing or heave the weights up using momentum. Your shoulders should be doing all the work.

I like to do single-arm rows so I can focus on contracting the muscles one arm at a time. It’s a great way to help muscles develop evenly. The motion is meant to emulate using a Smith machine, so keep the weight close to your body and glide the dumbbell up. Complete the prescribed number of reps for each arm before returning to the lateral raise.

Alternating dumbbell front raise

Alternating dumbbell front raise

I like to change up my grip each set: neutral grip for the first set, overhand on the second set, and underhand for the last set. The underhand raises will come slightly across your body, bringing in a bit of your upper back as well.

Standing Arnold press

Standing Arnold press

I’m typically pretty tired by the end of this workout, so I like to do a bilateral exercise that lets me train both arms at once and get in one last good squeeze. Try to increase the weight each set.

5 Rear Delt Exercises for Strong and Durable Shoulders

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Training your shoulders with Overhead Presses, Frontal and Lateral Raises and Bench Press variations may already be an important part of your routine. Those are all great exercises. But you need to work your posterior/rear deltoids, too, or risk a shoulder complex imbalance and an increased risk for shoulder injuries.

This is where the best rear delt exercises come in. The posterior deltoid actually acts more like a back muscle. It has three main functions. It’s the primary horizontal abductor (reverse fly motion) of the shoulder, and it also assists in external rotation and extension of the humerus (upper arm bone).

Aside from its postural benefits, the rear delt plays a major role as a dynamic stabilizer of the shoulder, making it a training necessity.

RELATED: Build Strong Shoulders With These Deltoid Workouts

Let’s take a look at five of the best rear delt exercises that will improve your upper-back musculature and posture as well.

1. Band Face Pull

The Band Face Pull is a highly effective rear delt and upper-back exercise, because it involves 2 of the 3 functions of the rear deltoids—horizontal abduction and external rotation of the upper arm bone. The tension created by the band highly activates the rear delt and upper back, making it an excellent warm-up/primer before an upper body training session. It is also a great choice as a “burner” at the end of an upper-body, shoulder or back training session.

If used as a warm-up, 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions will suffice. If used as a finisher, 25-30 reps will have your rear delts and upper back screaming!

How to:

  • Tie a band of moderate resistance to a squat rack pole or other fixed pillar.
  • Grab the band with both hands, palms facing each other.
  • Use a square or split stance, whichever is more comfortable.
  • Drive your arms back while keeping your elbows slightly above shoulder level, and slightly externally rotate your shoulders at the end.
  • Hold the end position for a second, then return to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for the remaining number of repetitions.

2. Seated Cable Rope Face Pull

The Seated Cable Rope Face Pull is similar to the Band Face Pull. However, it allows for more horizontal abduction and external rotation of the shoulder and heavier loading. If there’s no seated cable pulley station, then assume the same standing position as the Band Face Pull. Program this movement on your upper body, shoulders, or back training sessions for 2-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions, and you’ll reap the benefits of a stronger set of rear delts and upper back.

  • Attach a rope (the one used for Triceps Extensions) to a seated cable station. If there isn’t one, just attach it to any cable pulley.
  • Sit upright with a slight bend in your knees. If standing, use a square or staggered stance, again, whatever feels more comfortable.
  • Grab the rope tightly with your palms facing each other. Eliminate any slack, or extra space, between your fingers and the rope.
  • Drive your arms back and pull the middle of the rope attachment toward your forehead while keeping your arms above shoulder level.
  • Externally rotate your shoulders at the end.
  • Squeeze your upper back muscles and hold the end position for a second, then return to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for the remaining number of repetitions.

3. Cable High Pulley Lateral Extension

The Cable High Pulley Lateral Extension, sometimes referred to as the “Wolverine,” is one of the best posterior chain exercises, period. The movement heavily recruits the rear deltoids, lats, middle and lower traps and rhomboids, among others. The rear delts assist with extension of the humerus (upper arm bone).

RELATED: 5 Tips for Healthy Shoulders

Keep in mind the three main functions of the rear delts. It’s important to train all of them. Perform these for 2-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions, also on upper-body or pulling training sessions.

  • Remove all attachments from a cable station pulley, including the metal clip/hook.
  • Set the pulley at one of the highest settings, depending on your height.
  • Grab the ball-like ends of the pulley with your palms facing in. Grab the left pulley with your right arm, and the right pulley with your left arm.
  • Assume a square stance (feet even).
  • Extend both arms simultaneously in a diagonal direction until your arms are beside you.
  • Hold the end position for a second by squeezing your upper back muscles, creating tension, then return to the initial position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

4. Wide Grip Inverted Row

The Wide Grip Inverted Row is an instrumental exercise that you’ll rarely find gym-goers attempting. But this should be a staple pulling exercise in any program. With this row variation, your rear delts are extremely recruited, along with the rest of your upper-back musculature. Horizontal abduction of the upper arm bone is the main task of the rear delt during this pull.

Begin with only your body weight, and add load in the form of a plate if necessary. You can also increase the difficulty by slightly elevating your feet on a bench or step. If it’s too difficult with your legs fully extended, bend your knees accordingly. Aim for 2-4 sets of 8-15 repetitons.

  • Rack a barbell at about, or slightly below, your waist height. A Smith machine barbell also works well.
  • Begin by lying face-up with the barbell directly above your chest and your heels together.
  • Grab the barbell wide enough so that there’s a 90-degree angle at your elbow at the end phase of the movement.
  • Keeping your elbows at shoulder level, pull yourself up until your sternum almost touches the bar. Aim to keep a straight line from head to ankles.
  • Drop slowly until your elbows are fully extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

5. Dumbbell Bent-Over Reverse Fly

Another fantastic exercise for building the rear delts is the Dumbbell Bent-Over Reverse Fly. The bent-over position not only puts the rear delts at a good angle to fight gravity and produce force, it also requires the posterior core/spinal erectors to work, involving more posterior chain musculature. This movement is a classic that’s passed the test of time. Perform these for 2-4 sets of 10-20 repetitions.

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells tightly. Use a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
  • Use a square stance, with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Maintain a neutral neck position, and make sure the dumbbells are under your chest with your elbows slightly bent.
  • Raise your arms out to the side until they’re parallel to the ground. Move only at the shoulders.
  • Squeeze your upper-back muscles at the end position and hold for a second.
  • In a controlled manner, lower the dumbbells back to the initial position.
  • Repeat for the remainder of repetitions.

The Optimal Grip

Always pay close attention to your grip when training. This, along with other factors, will determine how effectively you can load an exercise, recruit muscle, and transmit force.

When it comes to the rear delts, a recent study conducted by Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., and colleagues found that a neutral grip (palms facing each other) significantly increased rear deltoid activity during a machine Reverse Fly, over a pronated (palms facing down) grip. For optimal results, incorporate both types of grips when training your rear delts.

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Reference

  • Schoenfeld B, Sonmez RG, Kolber MJ, Contreras B, Harris R, Ozen S., “Effect of hand position on EMG activity of the posterior shoulder musculature during a horizontal abduction exercise.” J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Oct;27(10):2644-9.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

The 8 Best Shoulder Exercises – As Recommended By Ryan Terry

There’s one thing every action star has in common, aside from a hefty paycheque, and that’s a set of boulder shoulders. Those Hollywood PTs bulking-up the likes of Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson understand that shoulder muscle is what bookends the V-shape of any all-action testosterone physique.

When it comes to your designs on a summer body, you’d do well to emulate them. Bigger shoulders give the appearance of bigger arms and a smaller waist. It’s a grossly unattended area for most men in the gym, but one man who wants to rectify that fact is physique competitor Ryan Terry – a fitness icon with with such adonis-like proportions that he looks hewn from Hellenic rock.

Terry, who is famous for his shoulders, has cleaned up at prestigious physique competitions including the IFBB Pro and the Olympia, racking up over a million Instagram followers along the way. Here, he reveals the secrets to his elite shoulder workouts and how they can work for the everyman.

Ryan Terry’s Shoulder Workout

“Always look at your deltoids as three different muscles,” Terry says. “You’ve got anterior , posterior and medial . A lot of people just do pressing motions, which won’t hit every part of the delt. You need compound moves to start with, like a barbell press. But then you need to split things up.”

As for how much and how often, Terry keeps things old school. “I work on a six day bodybuilding-style split. Five days for each individual muscle part, then the sixth day for a certain muscle group I’m trying to improve. If your shoulders need work, hit them twice a week, with three-four days in between to recover.”

Image Credit: SNHFOTO

Exercise 1: Barbell Overhead Press

This is your big compound move to get things going. Start with a warm-up set that focuses on time under tension (i.e., the amount of time you spend moving the weight), aiming for four seconds lowering with a two second blast upward, to strengthen your shoulders for the workout ahead.

Sets

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps

Execution

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your core set tight and a barbell held at your shoulders, palms facing forwards. From here, tense and drive the bar upward, really squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Lower with control.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 per cent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.

Alternate Exercise 1: Dumbbell Press

This is an alternative to move one, if you aren’t comfortable with a barbell or are simply limited to dumbbells at home. As above, start with a warm-up set to prime your muscles and get the blood flowing to the right areas.

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps)

Set yourself up with a shoulder-width stance and grab two dumbbells you’ll be able to lift with good control for 10 reps. Lift the weights and bring them to rest on your shoulders with your palms facing each other. Steady your breathing and drive the weights up, rotating your arms so your palms face forwards at the top.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 percent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.

Exercise 2: Dumbbell/Cable Machine Lateral Raise

Lateral raises hit the middle of your deltoid, an area often missed and therefore underdeveloped for a lot of people. Don’t get hung up on form here. Keep your back and body in the right position but if you can really push yourself, creating a little swing for the final three is fine. Obviously if there’s pressure on the lower back, stop.

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps
  • 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Either stand with a pair of dumbbells at your sides or set up a cable machine so the handles are at the lowest points, grabbing the left handle with your right hand and vice versa. Set your feet at shoulder width, pivot forward slightly at the hips, engage your core and pull your shoulder blades together to lift the weights out to your sides. Lower with control.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 min in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps, which increases blood flow and expands the fascia (the connective tissue) around the muscle.

Alternate Exercise 2: Assisted Bench Lateral Raise

If you find there’s too much swing, or that other muscles are picking up the work, you can properly isolate the delts using a bench. It’s all about muscle contraction, not just a-b movement, so don’t be ashamed to lower the weight if needed. You’re here to train your shoulders, not your ego.

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps
  • 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Set a bench to a 45-degree angle. With your chest down, lie on the bench with your head just over the top, with two dumbbells on the floor at shoulder level. Make sure you’re set securely on the bench and grab the weights. Tense your core, squeeze your shoulders and raise the weights out to the side. Lower slowly.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 min in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps.

Exercise 3: Pec Deck Rear Fly

This really isolates the rear of your deltoids, so you won’t need to go too heavy here. Using the pec dec machine ensures there’s constant resistance during both the eccentric and concentric part of the movement, which equals more muscle building bang for your buck.

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps

Set the seat so the handles are at shoulder level, which in turn should be sat fully to the rear of the machine’s settings. Hold the handles with your palms facing inwards. From here, set your torso tight and draw your arms out to the side and back through the dec’s semicircular plane. Return with control.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 per cent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.

Exercise 4: Reverse Cable Crossover

Time to hit the front of the deltoids with some serious time under tension. The focus here is steady, sweat-inducing control. Don’t use a weight that you can’t move slowly for 10 reps. And resist the urge to let the cables swing back with speed. You want tension the whole time.

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps

Stand in between the cable machines, with the handles set at the highest points. As with the cable lateral raise, grab the handles in the opposite hands, but this time draw them to your chest so your arms are crossed a bit like Wolverine. Lean forward slightly and draw your arms out and down. Again, a bit like Wolverine but in his full, claws-out extension. An alpha male growl at the mirror is optional.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps.

Exercise 5: Front Raise

This pretty painful move targets the front delts and doesn’t let up. It’s imperative you pick a reasonable weight here, because overdoing it will put all the onus on your lower back and very little of it on your delts. You want big shoulders, not a month off work due to muscle spasms.

  • 4-5 sets of 15 reps

Holding either a weight plate or barbell, set your hands at hip height. With your feet at shoulder width and your core tensed, draw your shoulder blades back and raise the weight with straight arms up to shoulder level. Keep breathing. Lower with control.

Stick with the same weight throughout unless you feel like it’s too hard or too easy, in which case adjust accordingly. Rest for 1 minute in between sets. Each rep should be 4 seconds up, 4 down.

Exercise 6: Dumbbell Shrugs

Now for the finishing move: shrugging metal upwards to build a set of Tom Hardy-esque traps. You can go quite heavy here, as you’re not moving the dumbbells through a particularly challenging range of motion. But be sure to reduce the weight if you end up compensating with your arms or calves.

  • 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Standing with your feet planted shoulder-width apart, bend your knees to pick up the two dumbbells, letting them come to rest on your quads. It’s all about mind-muscle connection here. Really think of your traps squeezing as you draw your shoulders together to raise the weights. Keep your arms loose and as inactive as possible. Lower with control.

Stick with the same weight throughout unless you feel like it’s too hard or too easy, in which case adjust accordingly. Rest for 1 min in between sets. Each rep should be 2 seconds up, 4 down.

Ryan Terry is an ambassador for leading sports nutrition brand USN who have just launched their brand new Blue Lab Whey protein. To find out more visit www.usn.co.uk

Exercises For Your Chest, Shoulders, and Upper Back

Last Updated on June 14, 2017

When most people start lifting weights and doing strength training exercises, they focus on legs, arms, and abs. However, there are lots of other areas that are important to work out to build overall strength and make sure your body is balanced. Here are some of the best exercises for your chest, shoulders, and upper back. These moves work for everyone from beginner exercisers to experienced lifters, and you can do them anywhere.

Deadlift with Upright Row

This move works your entire body—hamstrings, glutes, chest, and shoulders. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of you. Bend over as far as you can, hinging from the hips while keeping your back straight. Keep your arms straight and the weights against your body. Once you’ve bent over as far as you can, rise back up to standing. Once you’re upright, bend your elbows and bring the weights up to your shoulders. Lower back down and repeat.

Flyes

A regular fly works your chest. Lie on your back, preferably on a bench, and hold a weight in each hand. Hold your arms out on each side, keeping a very slight bend in your elbow. Raise your arms to bring the weights together in the air over your chest. Lower your arms back to the starting position and repeat.

Standing Rear Flyes

A rear fly will build muscle in your upper back. Stand with your feet hip-width distance and lean forward thirty to forty-five degrees with your back straight. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bring your arms straight out in front of you while keeping a slight bend in each elbow. Raise your arms out to your side, pinching your shoulder blades together at the top. Bring your arms back out in front of you and repeat.

Standing Dumbbell Rows

Stand in the same position as the rear fly, with your back straight and at a slight angle. Hold your arms at your sides with a weight in each hand and your elbows at a ninety-degree angle. Bring your elbows back as far and you can while keeping your hands along your ribcage and pinching your shoulder blades together. Return to start and repeat.

Chest Press

You’ll need a mat or a bench for this exercise. Lie on your back with a weight in each hand. Keeping them in line with your shoulders, bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Straighten your arms over your chest, and lower them back down to 90 degrees. Repeat. To make this exercise more challenging, lift your hips so that you are in a bridge formation or balance your upper back on an exercise ball.

Overhead Shoulder Raises

Stand up with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Hold a weight in each hand. You might need a lower weight than usual since this exercise works a part of your shoulders that often goes unexercised. Bring your arms out to the side so they are parallel with your shoulders and bend your elbows to a ninety-degree angle. Raise your arms, bringing the weights over your head. Lower back to the ninety-degree position and repeat.

If you’ve been dreaming about achieving Jennifer Aniston arms, here’s a tip: Crank out those shoulder workouts.

Beyond looking like a badass, shoulder training has a lot of benefits, says Emily Samuel, a NASM-certified trainer at Dogpound in New York City. First, “it strengthens the muscles around a very mobile joint,” she says. “When weak muscles surround a joint, especially one as mobile as the shoulder, it can result in injury.”

A lot of people have weak shoulders after spending so much time hunched over a computers and smartphones—in fact, this position actually turns the shoulders inward…which brings me to the second benefit: Shoulder exercises can help pull shoulders back in place, nixing neck pain and helping you stand up tall too.

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In an ideal world, you should be working your shoulders twice a week, says Samuel. Oh, and don’t forget to warm up to avoid injuries. “Grab a band and work on external rotations, presses, and raises before you pick up any weights.” Then try adding any of these moves to your routine, or complete the full shoulder workout below (as demonstrated by NASM-certified trainer Kara Liotta).

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: Dumbbells, kettlebell (optional), resistance band

Good for: Shoulders

Instructions: Choose five moves below. For each move, do three sets of the indicated number of reps, resting as needed between sets. Then continue to the next move.

1. Around the World (Swimmers)

How to: Start lying on stomach, arms extended forward, legs straight behind body, feet pointed, all four limbs, plus head and chest lifted to hover off floor. Then, circle arms out wide and back by sides, squeezing shoulder blades together. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 15 reps per set.

2. Upright Row

How to: Start with feet shoulder-width apart, legs straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing toward body and weights touching quads. Pull elbows up and out wide to lift the dumbbells to chest. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

3. Arnold Press

How to: Start standing with feet under shoulders, soft bend in knees, holding a pair of dumbbells at chin height, arms narrow in front of body and bent, palms facing body. Open elbows out wide to sides until inner arms face forward and then press the weights overhead, rotating palms away from body. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

4. Lateral Raise

How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing body, arms by sides. Raise arms outward until they’re parallel to the floor. Return slowly to start. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

5. Front Raise

How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing body, weights resting on quads. Keeping elbows straight, lift arms until they reach shoulder height. Then slowly lower back down. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

6. Neutral Grip Shoulder Press

How to: Start standing with feet under shoulders, soft bend in knees, holding a pair of dumbbells at chin height, arms narrow in front of body and bent, palms facing inward. Press weights up overhead until biceps frame face. Hold for one second, then take three seconds to lower the dumbbells back to start. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

7. Kneeling One-Arm Shoulder Press

How to: Start kneeling on right knee (right knee, hip, and shoulder stacked on top of one another), right shin pushed into floor, left leg bent at 90 degrees, foot flat, left arm by side, and right arm holding dumbbell just above right shoulder, elbow bent, palm facing body. Press the weight upward until arm is straight. Return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps on each side per set.

8. Bent-Over Fly

How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, knees bent, hinged forward at the hips until back is flat and torso is parallel to mat, holding a pair of dumbbells with arms extended straight down toward floor, elbows softly bent and palms facing each other. Raise both arms up and out to the sides while squeezing shoulder blades together. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

9. Banded Pull-Aparts

How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended straight in front of body and raised to shoulder height, holding a resistance band with both hands, palms facing floor. Engage core and pull fists past shoulders. Slowly return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 15 reps per set.

10. Shoulder Press

How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms bent at 90-degree angles, elbows wide and in line with shoulders, palms facing forward. Press the weights up until arms are straight overhead. Hold for one second, then take three seconds to lower the dumbbells back to start. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

11. One-Arm External Rotation

How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, right hand on hip, left harm holding a dumbbell, bent at 90 degrees, elbow pinned at waist, palm facing up, forearm in front of body and parallel to floor. Keeping elbow in place, rotate weight toward left side 45 degrees. Slowly return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 15 reps on each side per set.

12. Dumbbell Arm Circles

How to: Start standing with legs shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended out to sides at shoulder height, palms facing floor. Make small, clockwise circles with arms, coming upper arm/shoulder joint. One rotation is one rep. Complete 15 reps in each direction per set.

13. Car Drivers

How to: Start standing with legs shoulder-width apart holding either end of one dumbbell with hands, arms extended straight forward. Turn the weight to the left as much as possible and then to the right (like driving a car). Continue for 30 seconds for one set.

14. Single-Arm Kettlebell Press

How to: Starting standing with feet under shoulders holding a kettlebell (or dumbbell) in right hand at shoulder height, elbow bent and close to body. Keeping abs engaged, press the weight overhead until arm is straight. Pause, then slowly lower back to start. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps per set.

15. Dumbbell Raise To Pull-Apart

How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing body, weights resting on quads. Keeping elbows straight, lift arms until they reach shoulder height. Slowly open arms 90 degrees to sides. Then reverse the movement with control to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 15 reps per set.

17. Shoulder Taps

How to: Start in a high plank position with feet wider than shoulders. Keeping hips square to the floor, lift right hand and tap left shoulder. Return to start and repeat with the other arm. That’s one rep. Continue for 30 seconds for one set.

Ashley Mateo Ashley Mateo is a writer, editor, and UESCA-certified running coach who has contributed to Runner’s World, Bicycling, Women’s Health, Health, Shape, Self, and more.

Back and shoulders workout

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