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Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder Exercises and Weights

Dumbbell exercises have a significant number of advantages over machines and are an integral part of most shoulder strength training programs

Dumbbell exercises have a significant number of advantages over machines and are an integral part of most shoulder strength training programs. Dumbbells aid in the development of different elements of strength which include endurance, explosive power, muscle mass (hypertrophy) and maximal strength.

Dumbbells are preferred because machines operate and work muscles in restricted planes of movement. With machines, the movement is largely governed by the range of motion that the machine is designed to make. Because of the adjust ability of the various parts of the resistance machines many individuals can only achieve a certain level of focus on the intended muscle. However, it is not custom and this factor can cause an imbalance in the strength of muscles. Some muscles will become stronger while others are neglected. Free weights activate smaller muscle groups and therefore, are more effective in building balanced muscle groups and thus, aid in avoiding imbalance related injuries.

For this reason, to replicate sports related movements more accurately, athletes prefer dumbbell exercises. With free weights they can develop a more balanced physique and again, avoid injury.

To determine the type of exercises needed to achieve a desired result, first evaluate and establish your goal. The goal may be general fitness, increased muscle mass, strength endurance, or improved athletic performance. Once the end goal is determined, then an exercise regimen can be designed dictating the weight, number of sets, repetitions and frequency of the regimen.

Overhead Presses

The overhead presses are great for targeting the middle deltoid and the triceps. Although there are many variations of the overhead press, one can achieve the general concept by standing or sitting holding the weights in either hand. Elbows should be bent and hands at eye level. Raise the arms overhead. Then slowly lower to starting position.

Pay careful attention to posture. Make sure the feet are placed shoulder width apart for stability. Do not arch the back. The movements should be controlled and steady.

Front, Side, and Rear Raises

These exercises target each respective part of the shoulder, as well as, the upper back. Specifics of performing the front and lateral dumbbell raise exercises are listed below:

- Stand with your feet shoulder width distance apart
- Hold the dumbbells in both hands, palms facing forward
- Keep your head in a neutral position and look ahead
- Raise the dumbbells to your shoulder level
- Hold at the top of the movement
- Slowly lower the dumbbells. Repeat.

Repeat the same steps for the lateral raise, only begin with the dumbbells to the sides.

Rotations/Upright Rows

Shoulder rotations focus on the rotator cuff and require a smaller range of motion and lighter weights to avoid injury. Upright rows focus on developing the middle deltoid, as well as, the upper back and bicep muscle.

The proper method to perform the Upright Row is listed below:

- Hold the dumbbells in both hands and place your hands on your thighs

- Keep your palms facing downward on your thighs
- Raise your arms simultaneously so that the dumbbells reach chin level
- Your elbows be to the side of the body forming a 90 degree angle.
- Slowly lower your arms and repeat the movement.

Dumb-bells & other weight equipment

A person attempting to strengthen the muscle using dumbbells should have access to a wide weight range of dumbbells and barbells to increase resistance as you progress in the program.

Machines used for shoulder development are listed below:
- Shoulder Press Machine
- Machine Posterior Deltoid Row
- Machine Side Shoulder Raise

How to do exercises properly

Exercise can be effective in preventing injuries because the tissues become more resilient and more tolerant of the forces experienced during vigorous activities. However, exercise may also be the culprit in some injuries; therefore, use caution when performing exercises, taking care to perform the movement properly.

A warm up is generally always a good rule of thumb before performing any exercises. Warming up raises the muscle temperature which make muscles more pliable and resistant to injury.

A cool down is also important as it aids in preventing dizziness and syncope after exercise. It also assists in the removal of metabolic byproducts of exercise, such as lactic acid. Removal of lactic acid helps to decrease muscle soreness.

Posture and form are also important aspects of performing shoulder exercises properly. Without correct posture one could be emphasizing the incorrect muscle in an exercise and thereby, increase injury. One should always sit up straight without arching the back, unless called for in the particular exercise.

Additionally, most dumbbell exercises should be performed with slow and controlled movements for the most effective results. If the individual has incorrect form, it could be a recipe for injury or undue strain.


The point of shoulder exercises is to increase strength and endurance for tone, power and also to lessen the risk of injury. However, as with most exercise it also increases your metabolism by burning fats.

Exercise also improves bone density, reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and improves physical appearance.

Typically, like most strength exercises it is recommended that you perform shoulder exercises three non-consecutive days of the week. If heavy weights are a part of your program it is recommended that you incorporate at least two days of rest before focusing on that particular muscle group again.

If the goal is endurance and strength, perform between 1 and 3 sets of 12 to 16 repetitions with a lighter weight. Alternatively, perform between 1 and 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions with a heavier weight for a varied result. Allow for at least one day of rest before repeating the exercise again. A typical workout for the beginner will take between 15 – 20 minutes.

Avoiding injury

To avoid injury make certain to have the correct posture and form when performing the exercises. Additionally, pay special attention to working all of the muscles in a given area to avoid injury due to imbalance. Also, get plenty of rest to allow the muscle time to recuperate.

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I run for my aerobic exercise. You can run, walk, dance; whatever you prefer. Just be certain to do aerobics at least 3 – 4 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each workout. If you are using HIIT or something on that order, obviously you will be spending less time getting in your aerobics.

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