Calling all you Mirror Friendly people 🙂
It’s time for the 6th and last episode in the Mirror Friendly Summer Body Series. Through the previous episodes we’ve shown you how we train our abs, arms, legs, chest and back. Today we shift our focus onto the last (and definitely not the least important) featured body part: shoulders.
The shoulder is the most sensitive and unstable joint in the body.
The ball in the upper arm which is the most prominent muscle in the shoulder is actually larger than the socket that holds it, and with its range of motion being so great, it is prone to injury. To remain stable, it must be kept in place by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Therefore, it is very important to make sure these soft tissues are strengthened to keep the shoulder strong, flexible, more coordinated, and conditioned to handle stress.
Apart from the preventive aspect of strengthening shoulders there is also the aesthetical side to it. Having big shoulders further increases the shoulder-to-waist ratio (the so called ‘V taper’) making one’s waist look even smaller.
All the above reasons call for shoulder training sessions to be given their regular due importance. So if you want to develop a pair of strong, big, durable, and aesthetic shoulders you will want to read on.
The Soldier Shoulders Workout:
Our shoulders (also referred to as deltoids) are mainly composed of 3 main parts: the side deltoids, the front deltoids, and the rear deltoids.
In today’s workout we will feature 4 exercises; 1 for each shoulder part followed by a compound exercise involving all 3 shoulder parts. Unless otherwise stated each set will consist of 8 to 10 repetitions. You will be able to choose either my pick or Martina’s pick for each of the 4 exercises. Rest should be 1-2 minutes between every set.
Before commencing this workout make sure you warm up your shoulders properly. Our warmup usually consists of dynamic stretching using a Theraband. These bands come in different colours, each colour representing a varying resistance. They are ideal to warmup the muscles you are going to train by replicating the movements you will be focusing on during your session against a light elastic resistance. Always keep in mind that prevention is better than cure especially when it comes to shoulders since they can be easily susceptible to injury.
Seated dumbbell shoulder press:
- Set up for the exercise by getting an adjustable angle bench and setting the back to 90 degrees.
- Grasp a pair of dumbbells and sit down on the bench with the ends of the dumbbells on your thighs.
- Raise the dumbbells above your head and twist so that your palms are facing forward. Your back should be flat against the back rest and your feet firmly planted on the floor for stability. This is the starting position for the exercise.
- Keeping your eyes facing forward, slowly lower the dumbbells to the sides of your shoulders while inhaling.
- Once your elbows are in line with the shoulders, contract the shoulder muscles and raise the dumbbells back to the starting position while exhaling.
- Do not pause at the top of the movement, and immediately begin lowering the dumbbells back down for the next repetition.
- Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Dumbbell incline lateral raise:
- Grasp dumbbell in one hand.
- Lie on a 30 to 45 degree incline bench with opposite side of body on incline, arm over top of bench, legs bent and knees resting on seat of bench.
- Lower the dumbbell to your side hips with an extended arm. You can also have a slight bend in the elbow if it feels more comfortable. This is your starting position.
- Raise dumbbell to your side in line with torso until upper arm is perpendicular (90 degrees) to torso.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
- Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions per side.
Front cable raises using straight bar:
- Set the pin of the cable pulley to the lowest setting.
- Secure a straight-bar attachment to the cable machine.
- Position the body to face away from the weight stack.
- Grab the attachment with an overhand grip, stand up straight while keeping the knees slightly bent and the feet a bit less than shoulder width apart. This is your starting position.
- With a slight bend in the elbows and your core engaged, raise the attachment up and away until it becomes chin level, exhaling as you pull it up.
- Slowly lower the attachment down to the starting position, inhaling throughout the motion.
- Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Alternate front dumbbell raises followed by front plate raises:
First perform a set of front dumbbell raises as follows:
- Pick a pair of dumbbells and stand with a straight torso. Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs at arms length with the palms of the hand facing your thighs. This will be your starting position.
- While maintaining the torso stationary (no swinging) and core engaged, lift the left dumbbell to the front with a slight bend on the elbow while exhaling. The palms of the hands should always be kept facing down. Continue to raise until you arm is parallel to the floor. Pause for a second at the top.
- While inhaling lower the dumbbell back down slowly to the starting position as you simultaneously lift the right dumbbell.
- Continue alternating in this fashion until you have performed 8 to 10 repetitions on each arm
Following a set of front dumbbell raises on each arm immediately (without rest) perform a set of front plate raises:
- While standing straight, hold a barbell plate in both hands at the 2 and 10 o’clock positions. Your palms should be facing each other and your arms should be extended and locked with a slight bend at the elbows. Lower the plate to your waist in front of you as far as you can go. This is your starting position.
- Engage your core and slowly raise the plate as you exhale until it is a little above eye level. Pause at the top for a second.
- As you inhale slowly lower the plate back down to the starting position.
- Perform for 8 to 10 repetitions.
Complete 3 sets of the above circuit with 1 to 2 minutes rest in between each circuit.
- Position a bar in a rack to about waist height. You can alternatively use the bar in a Smith machine.
- Take a wide grip on the bar and position yourself hanging underneath the bar. Your body should be straight with your heels on the ground with your arms fully extended. This will be your starting position.
- Begin by flexing the elbow, exhale while pulling your lower chest towards the bar. Retract your shoulder blades as you perform this movement.
- Pause at the top of the motion, and slowly lower yourself to the starting position while inhaling.
- Repeat to failure for 3 sets.
- Set the pin of the cable pulley to a higher than head setting.
- Secure a rope attachment to the cable machine.
- Stand facing the cable and hold the rope in a way that your palms face each other. While holding the rope lean backwards on slightly bent knees until you feel a slight resistance in your arms. This is your starting position.
- Engage your core and exhale while pulling the rope directly towards your face separating your hands as you do so. Through the movement let your elbows bend backward as far as possible until the rope almost touches your face at eye-level.
- Pause at the back of the movement and slowly return the rope to the starting position.
- Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
COMPOUND BONUS EXERCISE:
TRX inverted shoulder presses:
This is an advanced exercise so make sure you are fit enough before you give it a go. Have someone spot you on your first few attempts.
- Stand on all 4s with your back facing a hanging TRX and place both feet in the TRX handles. The top of the feet should be facing the floor while inserted in the handles.
- Push your upper body up so that you go into a plank position with hands extended on floor and feet planted in TRX handles.
- Engage your core and slowly pike back until you reach an inverted vertical position with slightly bent arms at the elbows. Your neck should complement the straight line of your body. Pause and make sure your body is stable before you proceed to the next step.
- At this point slowly replicate the traditional shoulder press movement, inhaling as you release pressure off your shoulders and exhaling while you push your body back up, always keeping a tight core.
- Perform as many comfortable repetitions as possible for 3 sets. To exit the TRX simply allow one foot out of the handle and as soon as it hits the ground release the other leg in a similar fashion.
3 in 1 shoulder raises:
This exercise incorporates 3 simple movements to hit the front, side and rear shoulders within the same set.
- Pick a pair of dumbbells and stand with a straight torso. Hold the dumbbells by your side on your thighs at arms length with the palms of the hand facing your thighs. This will be your starting position.
- While maintaining the torso stationary (no swinging) and core engaged, lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend on the elbow while exhaling. The palms of the hands should always be kept facing down. Continue to raise until you arms reach shoulder level. Pause for a second at the top.
- From this position go directly into the front raise position, always keeping the palms of the hands facing down. Pause for a second at the top.
- Lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
- We are now going to perform the above exactly in reverse. Perform a front dumbbell raise (pause), then go directly into the lateral raise position with your arms extended at your side (pause) and then go back to the starting position.
- At this point we will again perform the reverse of the last sequence i.e. from starting position to lateral raise, into a front raise and back to starting position.
- Repeat this sequence to failure until you can keep proper form for 3 sets. Also remember to perform these 3 movements slowly to avoid injury.
Note: Avoid lifting heavy dumbbells for this exercise. Rather choose a lighter weight and perform more proper form repetitions.
To fitness with love,