Just because tank top season has come to an end for many doesn’t mean you should pass up these nine best shoulder exercises for women. Sure, a nice pair of rounded shoulders can give the illusion of a smaller waist, thanks to the classic hourglass figure. And of course there’s always the potential to shimmy those shoulders like an excited Hillary when wearing a holiday party cocktail dress. But looks aside, shoulder exercises can strengthen an area that’s very mobile and thus often prone to injury caused by poor alignment and repetitive movements.
Three Best Shoulder Exercise for Flexibility
We’ll get to toning the shoulders in a moment. First, try these three yoga-based poses to increase range of motion, making strengthening exercises more effective and less likely to cause damage.
- Thread the Needle: Start on all fours with your hands below your shoulders, your knees below your hips, and your spine in a neutral position. On an inhale, raise your left arm out to the side and overhead, so that your upper body turns slightly to the left. On an exhale, “thread” your hand through the opening created by your right arm and body, placing your left ear and arm on the ground with your palm up. Repeat on the opposite side breathing for five deep inhales and exhales.
- Forward Fold, Clasped Hands: In a standing position with feet below hips, bend your knees slightly. Clasp your hands behind your back with your palms together. From the hips, bend forward placing your belly on your thighs–bending your knees as much as need to be supported. Let your hands gently fall overhead and hang. Breathe five deep breaths in this position, before slowly releasing your arms and standing.
- Reverse Prayer: To open the front shoulder heads, kneel on the ground, resting your butt on the heels. With a straight back, put your palms together at your lower back. Be sure to roll your shoulders down your back–don’t hike them up around your ears. Close your eyes and breathe deep in this position for three to five breaths.
Three Best Shoulder Exercises Using Bodyweight Only
Once you’ve warmed up and stretched your shoulders, it’s time to get your workout on. And no equipment is necessary with these three toners.
- Pike Push-ups: Create an upside down V with your body, so that your hands and feet are on the ground and your butt is in the air. With your hands about at shoulder width, bend your arms and lower the crown of your head toward the ground before pushing back up to straight arms. If this is too easy, raise your feet up onto a platform, or flip it upside down into a handstand push-up. Complete three rounds of eight to ten reps.
- Side Plank Walks: Start in a plank position and rotate your body to the right, placing your right hand on
your hip. If this is difficult, stay right here and work on building strength in a stationary position. If you can do more, step the sides of your feet around making a half circle using your hand as a pivot point. Walk back to where your started and then switch sides. Complete five reps on each side, alternating back and forth.
- Wall Walks: With a wall about six to eight inches behind, start on all fours with your hands below your shoulders. Step your feet back and onto the wall behind you. Stay here if this is intense, otherwise begin walking your feet up the wall so that you could almost kick off to a handstand position. Then walk your feet back down the wall to where you first started. Up and down the wall is one rep. Complete three rounds of 10 reps.
Three Best Shoulder Exercises Using Weights
Ready to take the workout up a notch? It’s time to add metal.
- Push Press: Using dumbbells or a barbell, stand with your feet below your hips and the weight at shoulder height with your palms facing away from you. Start the exercise by bending through your knees slightly and
then pushing the weight up and overhead as you straighten your legs. Think about keeping your forearms next to your ears and punching your head through your open arms. Bend your knees as your return the weight back down to your shoulders and chest. This is one rep. Complete three sets of 12 reps.
- Shoulder Raises: This two-in-one shoulder exercise will blast your front and side delts. Holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs, palms facing you, raise the weights to shoulder height in front of your body. Slowly lower back down. Rotate your palms to face one another and raise the weights out to the side. Lower back down. This is one rep. Complete three sets of 10 reps.
- Upright Row: Start with feet standing about shoulder-width distance apart. Hold a kettlebell in both hands, palms facing you, so that the weight hangs at the center of your body. With a straight back, lift the weight close to your body and up toward your chin, winging out your elbows as you go. Slowly lower the weight back down to complete the rep. Complete three rounds of 12 reps.
What’s your favorite shoulder exercise? Share with others in the comments.