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Shoulders - How to Work your Shoulders

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Updated June 13, 2014

Deltoid Physiology
Photo © Paige Waehner
Your Shoulders

There are three areas of your shoulder: the anterior (front) deltoid, the lateral (side) deltoid, and the posterior (rear) deltoid. While this is all one muscle, it is possible to target specific areas with different exercises. The front deltoid is responsible for flexing and rotating the arm inward. The side deltoid's function is to move the arm away from the body (abduction). The rear deltoid extends the arm and rotates the arm outward.

Why Should You Work Your Shoulders?

Aside from looking great, your shoulders are involved in just about everything you do so exercising them will make daily functioning that much easier. In addition, your resistance training program should target all of your muscle groups, so make sure your routine is well-rounded. Your shoulder muscles are fairly small, so you may not be able to use as much weight as you can for your chest or your back.

How Often Should You Train Your Shoulders?

Like all muscles in your body, you can perform shoulder exercises up to three non-consecutive days a week. If you're lifting heavy weights, (enough that you can only complete 6 to 8 repetitions) you'll need at least two days of rest before you perform the exercise again. For this reason, you may only work your shoulders once or twice a week. If your goal is endurance and strength, stick with 1 to 3 sets of 12 to 16 repetitions and at least one day of rest before you perform the exercises again. Keep in mind that you will use your shoulders when performing chest and back exercises as well. That means chest and back exercises are a great warm up for your shoulders.

What Exercises Should You Do?

Most shoulder exercises are called 'pushing' exercises and generally involve pressing a weight over or away from your body such as overhead presses and lateral raises. Other popular exercises include front raises and upright rows. For detailed exercises targeting the shoulders, visit my Shoulder Exercises.

Next page Shoulder Exercises

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