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Shoulder Exercises to Sculpt and Tighten

Firm, chiseled shoulders not only help give you great posture but also make you look good. Learn how to get those shoulders moving in part 5 of WebMD's Fitness Series.

Balance Is Important continued...


Another weak part of the shoulder for many people is the rotator cuff. It is prone to injury from overuse, she says.


"People should be actively training the rotator with internal and external rotation," Gunning says. This can be done with tubing that is attached to something to hold its tension. The arm would begin bent at the elbow and holding one end of the tubing pull the forearm toward you for internal rotation and away for external rotation.


"People pay more attention to the vanity exercises that actually build the muscles but the tendons and ligaments need to be strengthened too," Gunning says.


Another reason to train shoulders is that these muscles are assistors in just about any upper body exercise, including push-ups, bicep curls, and chest presses, Calabrese explains.


Calabrese and Gunning offer these safety tips:


"Start from a neutral position, relaxed with shoulders down. Start out with a resistance that will allow you to perform the move properly," says Calabrese.


She suggests using a mirror to track and maintain proper alignment.


"If it feels awkward, sometimes you're so misaligned that you get used to holding your body the wrong way," says Calabrese. "A mirror can help. Keep resetting yourself and realigning yourself and focus on staying relaxed."


Focus on the concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) equally, she explains. And always work slowly -- two to three seconds in each direction.


"No momentum should be involved in strength training whatsoever," she says.


Gunning advises people to work through a pain-free range of motion and progress slowly.


Flexibility can be an asset in increasing a limited range of motion, she says, so stretching is beneficial -- particularly for the anterior deltoid. Something as simple as doing reverse shoulder rolls very slowly can help open the shoulders.


These exercises came from exercise physiologist and ACE spokeswoman Kelli Calabrese, who owns Calabrese Consulting LLC.


Perform two to three sets, 10 to 15 repetitions per set, of each of the following exercises:

Lateral Raise (Works Medial Deltoid)

Shoulder Exercises example 1

Shoulder Exercises example 2

  • Stand with your feet together. With a dumbbell in each hand, slowly lift the arms up towards shoulder height so that you form a "T" shape.
  • Pause at the top of the range of motion and slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the arms touching the hips. To make this exercise more challenging pause for two to three seconds at the top of the range of motion.
  • Be sure to keep your shoulders down as you are lifting your arms up.

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