Everyone wants sculpted shoulders, especially during beach season. So while sculpting your chest, back and arms are top priority, most fitness enthusiasts want to top off their bodies with defined shoulders through all 3 deltoid heads.
Be mindful that the shoulder complex is a very mobile joint lending its vulnerability to injury if your exercise program isn't carefully chosen. People who lift every day (along with athletes such as baseball pitchers, tennis players, volleyball players, golfers to name a few) put a lot of wear and tear on their shoulder muscles, tendons and joints. Repetitive movements can cause injuries so choosing the right program is essential to preserving shoulder health.
According to Beverly Hills based Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr Raj, "Training your shoulders is key to keeping them strong. Be sure to maintain good biomechanical form during physical activity while lifting and in sports. Be sure to avoid lifting objects that are too heavy for you. The best gauge to knowing if something is too heavy for you is if you have to overcompensate to lift the item by swinging through your back or protracting your shoulders and throwing your neck forward, then you most likely need to reduce your weight. Athletes should also consider resting in between games from those movements used in the game to avoid overuse injuries."
So while the following program doesn't target the rotator cuff muscles specifically, it does hit all the muscles in the shoulder complex, including the rotator cuff. These movements are to be done in a super slow fashion so that proper alignment can be attained and no risk for injury is incurred.
For each exercise, perform 10 repetitions for 2 sets. You may superset each exercise or throw in an abdominal blast in between each exercise. Your choice.
Chest Taps in Plank:
This exercise is a great warmup for the others. It fires up your entire rotator cuff musculature along with the larger surrounding muscles. It is a closed chain exercise since your hand is in contact with the floor. First position yourself in plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Energetically pull your arms down so that the weight isn't in the wrists, rather your back muscles are fired up. Firm through your thighs and make sure your pelvis is neutral and your lower back isn't hyperextended. Widen your stance a bit so that your feet are a little wider than hip distance. While keeping your body aligned, lift one hand off the ground to tap your opposite chest bone. Hold for a count before placing the hand down and switching sides. For a video demonstration, click HERE.
Side Front Sides:
These movements tackle all 3 deltoid heads; the medial, anterior and posterior deltoids into one exercise. Grab light resistance because tension is on the muscles for 3 full movements before you rest in between each rep. Starting with your weights down at your sides, exhale the arms up like a "T" keeping your arms in peripheral view. Turn the palms to face inward as you close the arms in together to touch. Then turn the palms to face back down towards the ground as you bring your arms back firing up the rear deltoid. Bring your arms back to starting position. The entire time, keep your core engaged and your spine aligned. Your ears should track over your shoulders, keeping your neck in a neutral position for the entire set. For a video demonstration, click HERE.
Lateral Raises to External Rotation:
Raise your arms out to the side with elbows slightly flexed. Once you are up, then flex the elbows to a ninety degree angle. Pause. Then externally rotate your shoulders or angle your knuckles towards the back wall while pivoting in space around your elbows. Come out of this exercise the same way you came in; Rotate your shoulders internally. Extend your arms out again. Then bring your arms back down to starting position. For a video demonstration, click HERE.
Multi-planar Shoulder Press:
This exercise is multi-planar meaning it has many moves in all planes of motion within one exercise. Move slowly throughout this exercise. Starting with your arms in front, slight bend in the elbows and palms facing towards you, raise your arms up to about shoulder height. Rotate the shoulders so that your palms face towards each other. Then biceps curl your arms mid-air, sending them up into a shoulder press. All along, make sure your spine is neutral, your lower back isn't arched and keep a slight flexion (bend) in your knees. Keep your shoulders down while you drive up so that you aren't putting undue stress into the neck region. For a video demonstration, click HERE.
Photo and Video Credits: Lauren Noble
Location: Velocity Sports Club in Brentwood California