Shoulders are one of the most worked/used muscles in your body. Your shoulders along with your triceps are what actually make your arms looked toned, fit, or big if you’re looking for volume. Whether you’re working out your chest, back, or arms you’re almost always using your shoulders in the exercise.

Because of the constant use coupled with the fragile ball joint that is connected to your shoulders, it’s important that you’re doing the correct exercises and not over fatiguing your shoulder muscles. If you’re starting out, go for lower weight, higher rep workouts rather than higher weight lower rep workouts. As you get comfortable with the movements feel free to increase the weight you’re lifting.

For the best outcome during your shoulder toning exercise, hit multiple angles and parts of your shoulder (front, back, deltoids, etc) as well as high volume medium to high weight (again as you get comfortable with the workouts) repetitions. You really want to feel a good pump during the workout to maximize your time and effort. Use free weights (dumbbells, barbells, EZ bars) when you can as they’re more challenging and will give you a more full workout. Dumbbells especially will give you an even workout as to not “cheat” by using your dominant shoulder more than the other.

Exercise no. 1

Upright Rows

4 sets of 10 reps

There are many variations to this exercise, however, we’ll go over two here.

  1. Start by picking an EZ bar with your desired amount of weight or by adding an EZ bar to a low pulley.
  2. With your feet shoulder width apart and your legs slightly bent. Hold the EZ bar or EZ bar pulley in your hands with your palms facing down and towards each other following the natural curve of the bar. You should be holding the bar close to your body with your arms extended downward.
  3. Exhale while pulling the bar vertically up. Your elbows should kick out to your sides.
  4. Pause for a moment at the top of the movement then inhale while slowly letting the bar back down.
  5. Repeat for the desired amount reps.
Exercise no. 2

Shoulder Press

4 sets of 10 reps

  1. Start by picking two dumbbells that will allow you to complete the desired number of reps. Sit on a utility or military press bench that will give you back support and place both dumbbells on your thoughts. Grip the dumbbells with your palms facing each other.
  2. Use your thighs to kick the weights up to shoulder height on either side. Your wrists should be rotated so that the palm of your hands are facing forward.
  3. Exhale while pushing (“pressing”) the dumbbells up until your arms are almost fully extended and the two flat sides of the dumbbell touch.
  4. Pause, then inhale while moving the weights back down to shoulder height.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  6. Once you’re done with your set, rotate and lower the dumbbells back onto your thighs to prevent injury.
Exercise no. 3

Lateral Raises

4 sets of 10 reps on each arm

  1. Start by picking a pair of dumbbells that will allow you to complete the recommended number of reps. Stand straight with your feet about shoulder width apart with a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Keep your torso upright and your back straight while holding both dumbbells on to your sides. The inside of your hands should be facing each other and your fist should be facing downwards almost as if you’re going to punch the ground.
  3. Lift the both dumbbell up directly up towards your sides until your arms are slightly above your shoulders. Your elbow should be slightly bent but the rest of your arm should.
Exercise no. 4

Front Raises

4 sets of 10 reps on each arm

Front raises are a great way to strengthen and condition your shoulders.

  1. Start by picking a pair of dumbbells that will allow you to complete the recommended number of reps. Stand straight with your feet about shoulder width apart with a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Keep your torso upright and your back straight while holding both dumbbells on the front portion of your thighs. The outside of your hand should be facing forward, almost like you’re punching towards the ground.
  3. Lift the right dumbbell up directly in front of you until your arm is slightly above your shoulder. Your elbow should be slightly bent but the rest of your arm should remain straight. Exhale through this entire movement. Tip: If you feel the urge to swing the weight up or use your back to help with this movement, it’s a good indication that you may need to decrease the weight as this can cause injury.
  4. Slowly bring the weight back down to your starting position.
  5. Now repeat with your other arm to complete one rep. Switch off until you’ve finished the recommended number of reps.
Exercise no. 5

Cable Rotations

4 sets of 10 reps

  1. Approach the cable pulley and move the pulley so that it’s at the same height as your elbows. Attach a single handle to the pulley.
  2. Stand 2-3 steps away from the cable pulley and hold the handle with both hands to the side closest to the cable pulley.
  3. Rotate your arms across the front of your body to the other side as far as you can, while keeping your arms at an almost 90 degree angle with your body. Rotate back to finish one rep. Be sure to keep your elbows in place.

Linda Piyawadhanachai

I first got into weight lifting when I got hired into an office job. I found myself eating junk food and fast food all the time. I knew if I kept this up, I would later regret it in the future. I wanted to make a change and want to help others make a change too!
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Kiyan Sheikh

My goal is to inspire others to reach their fitness goals and become a confident, better version of themselves. Being fit doesn’t just mean going from fatty to lean, people that are lean also need help increasing things like their cardio or endurance.
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