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Three Great Shoulder Exercises
Part 1 of 1
By: Jackie Wright

There are three primary shoulder muscles (i.e. deltoids) which help to protect the integrity of the shoulder joint. The anterior deltoid (front of shoulder), medial deltoid (middle of shoulder) and the posterior deltoid (rear of the shoulder).

In order to strengthen the shoulder joint and avoid muscular imbalances, you need to perform exercises for each segment of the deltoids. Try the three great shoulder exercises described below:

Shoulder Flexion with dumbbells (primarily works the anterior deltoid)

  • Stand with the legs shoulder-width apart, the shoulders rotated back/down, the rib cage lifted, the navel pulled toward the spine, the knees soft and body weight primarily in the heels.
  • Suspend the arms in front of the thighs, with the palms facing the thighs, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Engage the anterior deltoid lifting the arms upward with the elbows relaxed to shoulder height.
  • Then, lower the arms back to the front of the thighs without losing the contraction.
  • Perform two to three sets of 8-12 repetitions, slow two counts up and down, two to three times per week.

Shoulder Abduction with dumbbells (primarily works the medial deltoid)

  • Stand with the legs shoulder-width apart, the shoulders rotated back/down, the rib cage lifted, the navel pulled toward the spine, the knees soft and the weight primarily in the heels.
  • Suspend the arms to the sides of the body with the palms facing the outside of the thighs holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Engage the medial deltoid, lifting the arms away from the outside of the thighs with the elbows relaxed to shoulder height.
  • Then, lower the arms back to the outside of the thighs without losing the contraction.
  • Perform two to three sets of 8-12 repetitions, slow two counts up and down, two to three times per week.

Shoulder Extension with resistive tubing (primarily works the posterior deltoids)

  • Begin by looping the center of resistive tubing with handles around an immovable object.
  • Stand with the right leg staggered in front of the left leg, like you are standing on two separate railroad tracks, the shoulders rotated back/down, the rib cage lifted, the navel pulled toward the spine and the weight primarily in the right heel with both knees soft.
  • Holding a handle in each hand with the arms fully extended, maintaining soft elbows, in front of the right thigh, engage the posterior deltoids by driving the arms backward from the shoulder joint until the arms are behind the left thigh.
  • Then, slowly return to the beginning position.
  • Perform two to three sets of 8-12 repetitions, slow two counts back and front, two to three times per week.

Safety/effectiveness tips:

  • Choose a lighter weight increment for shoulder flexion than shoulder abduction
  • Lift only to shoulder height, never above.
  • Use no momentum or swinging as you lift the dumbbells.
  • Keep your wrists in neutral.
  • When using resistive tubing avoid letting the tubing become slack.
  • Focus upon where you are initiating the movement from before you attempt to perform the exercise.
  • Make certain that the eyes are fixed forward, the shoulders, hips, knees and toes are all facing in the same direction.
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