Your shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body and requires a perfect coordinated balance between dozens of muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and bones in order to work correctly. And while it’s great the shoulder can move so much (allowing us to do everything from lifting our kids to lifting our arms out on the dance floor), this wide range of motion does potentially increase the risk for injury.
So, to keep your shoulders mobile, stable, and healthy, make ’em strong!
Check Out These 4 Fave Movements for Stronger Shoulder Muscles:
This foundational movement can be done in either a standing or seated position. To do, start with your dumbbells (or barbell) at your shoulders; your elbows should be pointing forward and slightly down. Then press the dumbbells straight up until your elbows lock out, keeping your hands over your shoulders. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Try 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
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2. Bent over Row
Stand while holding a pair of dumbbells (or a barbell) using an overhand or underhand grip. Bend over at the hips (knees slightly bent) while keeping your chest up and back flat, until your torso is almost parallel with the ground and your hands are hanging directly below your shoulders. Pull the dumbbells to your shoulders (elbows should be pointing back and up). Try 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
3. Push Up
This is a classic, versatile, do-anywhere movement! Key pointers: keep your neck, hips, and shoulders in a straight line with each other; engage your core, butt, and legs; start with your hands under your shoulders and elbows straight. When lowering, keep your elbows tucked against your sides (they should point back instead of wing out) and go all the way until your chest touches the floor. Try 3 sets of max effort (as many as you can do).
Need it easier? Try going on your knees or putting your hands on a sturdy bench or step. Need it harder? Bring your hands together in a diamond shape, put your feet up on a step, or do the lowering phase in slow motion (for a count of 3-5).
4. Hanging Scapular Retractions
Hang from a bar with your hands in a pronated (overhand) position. Hands should be placed slightly wider than shoulder width. Keeping your gaze forward and your elbows locked out, “pull” your shoulder blades down your back by squeezing them down and together. Your body should lift slightly. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds, then slowly relax. Try 3 sets of 10 reps.
Pro Tip: do this and other “pre-hab” exercises (like Ts, Is, and Ys) at the end of the workout, so you don’t fatigue your small stabilizing muscles too early. 2 to 3 sets of 15-20 reps is good for building muscular endurance; just make sure you pick a set of dumbbells that are light enough so you the last rep while challenging, will still look as good as the first rep.
Got any other favorite shoulder exercise? Let us know about it in the comments!