5 Top Shoulder Exercises!

The shoulder girdle has among the most important joints and muscles in the body in order to perform a diverse range of pressing and raising movements. Every upper body movement is assisted by the rotator cuff which forms part of the shoulder. 5 Top Shoulder Exercises presents some exercises that may come as a surprise but they are justified when you’re educated on how important the rotator cuff actually is and not warming it up properly can lead to long term injury delaying your upper body development, sometimes for months!

The rotator cuff is made up of the Teres Minor, Subscapularis, Supraspinatus and Infraspinatus. The main movements of the shoulder as mentioned above are pressing and raising movements with raising movements occurring in front, at the side or rear (posterior) of your body.

1. Dumbbell external rotation

This exercise is the first of the rotator cuff exercises using a dumbbell. Keeping your elbow locked to your stomach with your elbow joint at a 90-degree angle, pull your forearm to the side of your body by rotating your shoulder. Use a light weight at the start of your shoulder workout as this will increase your rotator cuff stability whilst decreasing the likelihood of injury.

2. 90 Degree dumbbell external rotation

Another exercise to increase the strength and stability of your rotator cuff. Keep your arms in the air parallel to the floor in front of you with a 90-degree angle at your elbow joint. Rotate your arms so the finish of the movement looks like your fist is facing the ceiling at the beginning of a shoulder press movement. This can either be performed as a first or second exercise in a shoulder routine in order to correctly warm up your shoulder girdle.

3. Dumbbell shoulder press

This is a big one for a good overall increase in shoulder development. The shoulder press has long been performed first on shoulder day to not only warm up all 3 heads of the shoulder, but to pre exhaust them for the coming isolation exercises.

I like to perform the shoulder press seated so that my body does not take over the movement. Always have a spotter on hand when going heavy! Starting with your arms at a 90-degree angle at head height, press up into the air but avoid full extension of your elbow in order to reduce tricep activation. Come back down to 90 degrees in order to not put excess stress on your shoulder girdle.

4. Leaning Dumbbell Lateral Raise

I prefer to do this exercise by holding onto a piece of apparatus. Then, leaning over with a dumbbell in hand, performing single arm lateral raises takes your body’s momentum out of the movement to help you further focus on, isolate and build up the medial deltoid.

Performing this exercise using this technique will allow you to increase the weight you are able to handle compared to when doing double arm lateral raises. This exercise can be performed at any time during a workout.

5. Rear Delt Machine Flyes

The most neglected muscle of the shoulder is the rear deltoid. This muscle is not visible to the naked eye as it is on the posterior aspect of your body so it’s often ignored but for complete physique and shoulder development it should not be omitted from your routine.

To perform the movement, you should sit facing the machine with your chest on the pad. Now, holding the handles with palms facing inwards pull the handles to your side then contract your rear deltoid when the optimum range of motion is reached. This exercise can be performed at any time during your workout.

These are only some of many exercises that should be performed in a shoulder workout. Other exercises such as shrugs and front raises aren’t in this list only due to having the more important rotator cuff exercises place ahead. Never sacrifice exercises #1 and #2 above as you’ll probably compromise your strength and pay with shoulder imbalances and weakness later on that can put you out of training for ages, and who wants that!

Antonio Linardi

Antonio is a Sports Scientist and Personal Trainer and currently works with people with a range of goals but specialises in muscle building, fat loss and improving athletic performance. An a FDSC and BSC student at Teesside University (in Sport and Exercise Applied Science, Fitness Instruction and Sport Therapy) his current research study involves finding out the effects of Intermittent Fasting on lean body mass increase and fat loss. He was also a former amateur boxer for Middlesbrough ABC and Natural Progression ABC and currently uses his experience to help improve the strength and conditioning of aspiring boxers and other athletes.

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