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Health and Fitness News

Shouldering the Workout

Five of the best exercises to target your shoulder muscles.

You know there are exercises to build and strengthen your arms, chest, and back, but you may overlook exercises that work your shoulders. Forming where the upper arm bone connects to the shoulder blade, your shoulders are complex joints made of layers of bone, smaller joints, ligaments, tissue bands, tendons, and muscles. It’s easy to take the health and range of motion of your shoulders for granted until injury strikes. Whether caused by arthritis, inflammation, a tear in the tendons, dislocation, or other type of injury, shoulder pain affects your quality of life.

Exercise can help prevent shoulder injuries by keeping the joint and surrounding muscles strong and flexible. Here are a few common shoulder exercises to add to your regular workouts.

Overhead Dumbbell Press

Hold a dumbbell weight of 5 to 10 pounds in each hand with an overhand grip. Stand up straight, bend your elbows, and bring the dumbbells up toward your shoulders. Turn the dumbbells so your thumbs are next to your shoulders and your knuckles are facing up. Raise each weight above your head (together or one at a time). Hold for a second and then slowly lower the dumbbells to shoulder level. Repeat for a desired number of repetitions.

Front Raise

Target your shoulders and upper chest with front raises. Stand with your feet placed shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides. Keep your elbows slightly bent, and in a controlled manner raise the weights (together or one at a time) in front of you to shoulder level, until your arms are parallel to the floor. Hold for a second and then lower the weights down to starting position. Keep your body stable without rocking. Repeat.

Lateral Raise

A similar exercise is the lateral arm raise. Stand with your feet placed shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides. In a controlled manner, raise the weights (together or one at a time) out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor. You can keep your arms straight or bent at the elbow. Hold for a second and then lower the weights down to starting position. Keep your body stable without rocking. Repeat.

Reverse Fly

Work your shoulders and upper back muscles with the reverse fly. Again, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells. With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet placed shoulder-width apart. Slightly bend your knees and tilt your upper body forward at the hips. Let your arms and the dumbbells hang down toward the floor. Your palms should be facing each other and your elbows slightly bent.

Keep your back flat and your body stable as you raise your arms out to the side while bringing your shoulder blades together. In a controlled manner, lower the dumbbells back to starting position and repeat.

Upright Row

Another great shoulder exercise that also works your back and arms is the upright row. You can do upright rows with a barbell, two dumbbells, or a kettlebell. With a kettlebell, stand with your feet placed shoulder-width apart and hold the weight with both hands in front of your body. Bend your elbows and raise the kettlebell until it’s at chest-height. Slowly lower the weight back down to starting position. Repeat.