Your shoulders are definitely a part of your body that need a little love. Every time you reach, push or pull, your shoulders are in action. Below are a few exercises for healthy shoulders your body could really benefit from.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
This is a great exercise for anyone – from beginner to advanced. I love this exercise because you’re working the shoulders (of course), but also the triceps (back of the arm). While the focus and effort isn’t as intense on the triceps, it’s yet another way to fight off the ‘lunch lady arms’ while increasing the strength of your body’s most mobile joint.

How to do it
Seated in a chair, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at 90 degree angles. Your hands and weights should be in line with the top of your head.  Push the weights over your head, and return to the 90 degree angle. Repeat 3 sets of 12 to 18 repetitions.

Tips

  • Keep your back straight (don’t arch back)
  • Avoid the “cling, cling, cling” sound. If you’re hitting the weights together every time you raise them overhead, you’re using too much weight. Drop it down a notch.
  • Don’t hold your breath. It’s easy to do this with shoulder presses as shoulder presses can be very fatiguing toward the end of a set. Continue breathing.


Straight Arm Lateral Raise

Of all shoulder exercises, I find lateral raises to be the most rewarding and the most humbling. You don’t need a lot of weight – in fact, a lot less than you think. If you’re new to this exercise, or shoulder exercises in general, starting with a one or two pound weight may be enough. Regardless, the weight you choose for this exercise should be significantly less than the weight you use for shoulder presses.

How to do it
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. With your back straight and abdominals tight (consciously try to draw your belly button to your spine), raise your arms out to the side until they’re parallel with the ground. Return your hands back to your sides. Repeat 3 sets of 12 to 18 repetitions.

Tips

  • Don’t shrug. It’s easy to pull your shoulders up, creating a shrugging motion, especially as you begin to fatigue. If you find you’re shrugging, you’re either using too much weight or fatigued at at the end of your set. Think of drawing your shoulder blades down and back.
  • Don’t overdo it. Again, this exercise can sneak up on you. Build up your strength by slowly adding weight – and avoid potential injury.

Arm Circles
This is another great exercise that doesn’t need any special equipment and is completely functional. Think of the number of times you reach out, up, down or around for something – all with a fairly straight arm. Arm circles mimic the “reach” –  but with more dynamic movement.

How to do it
Stand with your feet hip with apart and arms outreached, parallel to the floor. Begin moving your arms in a forward circular motion, about one foot in diameter. Continue this motion for 30 seconds, then reverse to a backward circular motion for 30 seconds. If you get through this exercise with no problems, gradually add weight one pound at a time. Repeat 3 sets of 30 seconds (each side).

Tips

  • Don’t lock your knees. Keep them loose with a slight bend.
  • Again, keep your back straight, not arched.
  • Focus on engaging your abdominals throughout the exercise, drawing your belly button to your spine.
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