#FitnessFriday: Flex Worthy Arms & Shoulders

Toning Shoulder and Arm Exercises

Despite the warm weather motivating us to show some skin, our shoulders and arms remain the number one  most exposed body part year round. I’d say that is enough motivation for me to keep them looking strong and tone! The shoulder and arm muscles are under constant force as they help us lift overhead, push forward, press downward and pull backward on items of various weights and sizes.

So lift your glass and CHEERS to keeping those arms and shoulders swimsuit ready all year long!

 

bicep-curls-woman-variations

 

Pushups

Thanks to bootcamp style workouts across the globe, pushups are the quintessential arm workout. With different variations of intensity, the pushup engages the triceps as well as the chest, deltoids, and even abs.

Get down on all fours. Resting on your toes, place your feet less than hip width apart and hands on the floor beneath you so that they are in line with the shoulders and slightly wider than shoulder width apart. This is your start pushup position. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause at the bottom and quickly push yourself back to starting position.

Keep your core tight and if your hips begin to sag, give yourself a break. Pushups can be done using a suspension trainer, incline or decline bench and even weights.

 

Shoulder Press

The shoulder press exercise targets your front deltoids, middle deltoids, and triceps, helping round out the shoulders to make them look more defined. Also activating your upper trapezius, rotator cuff and serratus anterior, this exercise encourages these muscles to act as stabilizers through the movement. Beginners should use a barbell with little to no weight to become comfortable with the overhead motion.

Standing upright with your feet about shoulder width apart, grab a barbell with an overhand grip that’s just beyond shoulder level in front of your body. Push the barbell straight overhead while leaning your head back slightly and keeping your torso tight. Pause at the top, then slowly lower your arms back to start position.

Other variations of shoulder presses can be performed holding dumbbells seated, standing, or even alternating. Because of the joint placement, activation of stabilizing muscles and the overhead movement, you should always yield on the lighter side of weights with this exercise.

 

Shoulder Raises

Can you feel the burn? Engaging the deltoid muscles, upper trapezius and rotator cuff, you are sure to feel it while performing shoulder raises. Front raises are a staple shoulder exercise.

Begin standing upright, arms straight by your side, palms facing inward to the body and a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your arms straight, raise them in front of you until they are parallel to the floor or perpendicular to your torso. Pause at the top. Slowly lower your arms back to start position.

This exercise can be done with the palms facing inward, outward, or downward. Instead of raising your arms in front of you, try lifting them to your side or diagonally to cause each muscle of the deltoid to do equal work.

 

Bench Dips

The triceps are the toughest muscles to tone in the arm. This is because of the three layers of muscles: the lateral, medial, and long head. Beginners should try bench dips with knees bent, feet flat on the ground before them, and the body close to the bench.

Begin standing with your back facing the bench. Place your hands on the bench with palms facing downward and fingers relaxed around the edge of the bench for support. Arms should remain nearly locked in place while you hold your body with your knees bent and feet planted about shoulder width apart on the floor in front of you. This is your starting position. As you inhale, slowly bend your elbows to lower yourself downward toward the ground. Your torso should remain tight and elbows close to the body. Lower your body until there is a 90-degree angle formed at the upper arm and forearm junction. Exhale and push your body up back to your start position using your triceps only.

Bench dips can be intensified by straightening the legs, taking the feet further away from the bench, or even lifting one foot off the ground.

 

Dumbbell Arm Curl

This exercise primarily targets the biceps but also engages the upper-back and rear-shoulder muscles as they help stabilize the shoulder while you are curling the weight forward.

Begin standing upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Hanging your arms by your side, turn your palms so that they face forward. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbow and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as possible. Pause at the top and slowly lower the weights backs down to start position. Make sure to completely straighten your arms at the bottom.

To add variety to your arm curls, try a decline hammer curl, reverse curl, or even take a static hold at the top for five seconds of each rep.

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC