In my last column, I focused on exercises that help prevent leg injuries. In this week’s edition, I’ll be focusing on exercises to build strong shoulders—joints that are easily susceptible to injuries because they take immense pressure and a lot of pounding with most workout programs. Before engaging in some shoulder-strengthening exercises, do a simple warm-up of shoulder rolls.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart with arms at the side. Lift arms out to the side, then start moving the shoulders in circles. Do 10 circles in each direction, and repeat three times (so you’ll complete a total of 60 rolls). Now you’re ready for the workout.
Standing dumbbell overhead press. Instead of using a pronated grip (palms facing out), use a neutral grip (palms facing each other). A neutral grip makes things easier on the shoulder joints, and you’ll also work the triceps muscle. Stand tall, keep the back straight and raise your arms above the head, locking out the elbows at the top of the movement.
Slowly lower the dumbbells to shoulder level. Slow is the key word here, because keeping proper form on any movement is paramount. If you can’t slowly lower the weights down, it’s probably too heavy for you. Because an overhead press requires greater stability and greater neuromuscular activity in the deltoid muscles compared to the seated overhead press variety, start with light weights before working your way up. Do three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
For a greater challenge, do overhead presses one arm at a time. This will engage more of your core muscles.
Front raises. Grab a weight plate and slowly raise it in front of you to shoulder height, with arms near full extension (there should be a slight bend in the elbows). Lower back down slowly, and repeat. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps. For a greater variety and a different stimulus, use dumbbells. Make sure palms are facing toward you, and execute the movement bilaterally (raise both arms at the same time) or unilaterally (one arm at a time).
Upright dumbbell row. Stand tall, with feet shoulder width apart and with the arms in front of the body. With palms facing the body, raise the dumbbells until the elbows are at shoulder height. Hold this position for a couple of seconds, then slowly lower down to the start position. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps.