Define Your Deltoids
Summer is here bringing tank top season with it. Love it or hate it, working on your deltoids is a necessity for that overall sleek, sculpted look. You can do all the chest and bicep work possible, but without sculpted shoulders you can look just plain puny.
The deltoid is a three-part muscle that caps the shoulder—anterior, medial, and posterior.
The Anterior Deltoid contributes to many pectoral-related movements, like the bench press. It rounds out the shoulder and gives the impression of width from the front.
The Medial Deltoid is most active during lateral movements, like lateral raises. Located on the outside part of the shoulder, it is responsible for moving the arms directly out to the sides — and visually, it adds more width to the shoulder.
The Posterior Deltoid is used in muscles that engage the back and rhomboid muscles, like upright rows. It improves the appearance of the back of your shoulder and helps with overall posture.
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, with the ball being the humerus and the socket being the glenoid. Shoulders can abduct 150 degrees, flex forward 180 degrees, extend 45 degrees, and rotate internally 90 degrees. That’s a huge range of motion for a ball and socket joint, which opens up the a wealth of possibilities for injury.
One main place of shoulder injury is the rotator cuff. It is important to properly warm up your muscles prior to beginning a weight-lifting routine. With my clients, I recommend doing some cardio prior to weight lifting, so your body is up and ready to go. There are also various stretches that can be done to help ease shoulder pain.
Remember that muscles should be “warm” prior to beginning any stretching. Stretching cold muscles can result in muscle pulls and other injuries.
Get Ready to Work
The following exercises can be added to your existing routine or done as a complete shoulder workout in its entirety. Three sets of 8–12 repetitions are recommended.
Military Press – Rest your weighted bar on your upper chest and shoulders, then press it up right in front of your face, extending your elbows until they are just about locked. Be careful not to lock the elbows. Return the weight to your chest and repeat.
It’s important to note that military presses should always be done to the front. Lowering the bar to the back of your neck puts your shoulders in an unnatural position and leaves them prone to injury. On a positive note, you can also lower the bar further when you go to the front, offering a longer range of motion, which in turn, leads to more muscle growth.
Arnold Press — Using free weights, stand with you feet shoulder distance apart with the weights positioned in front of you palms facing in.
Begin the Arnold Press by bringing your elbows out to the side while turning your palms facing out as you continue the lift overhead press. Return to starting position to complete one rep.
Upright Rows — Grab the bar with hands placed at shoulder width in an overhand grip. Pull the bar straight up to your neck, with elbows flaring out to the sides. Lower and repeat.
Rear Delt Row — Using a wide handgrip on your bar, bend your knees and lean forward with your back straight and abs in tight. Slowly pull the bar up to your chest until your upper arms are horizontal and then lower back down.
Lateral Side Dumbbell Raises — Standing with feet shoulder distance apart and knees bent, begin with your weights in your hands and arms down at your side. Raise the weights out to the side until your arms are parallel to the floor; lower back to starting position.
Dumbbell Half Lateral Raise — This move is executed exactly like the Lateral Side Raise, except when you reach your lifted position with arms parallel to the floor, turn your thumbs down and lower the weights halfway, pausing for a count of four and then lifting back to shoulder height. Lower arms back down to your starting position to complete one repetition.
Rear Lateral Raise — With knees bent into a squat position and tailbone pointing back, lean forward pulling the abdominals in as tight as you can. Hold the weights in front of you with palms facing in and lift both arms out to the side, extending until they are parallel to the floor.
You want to keep your elbows above your wrists throughout the exercise.
Single Arm Front Lateral Raise — Standing with knees bent and abdominals in, lift one arm straight up in front to shoulder height. It’s important that throughout this movement that you maintain a straight wrist, and not allow the hand and wrist to droop.
Side Lying Lateral Raise — Lying on your side with hips stacked one on top of the other and knees slightly bent, raise your weight from the floor into a vertical position with palm facing forward. Keep your elbow slightly bent throughout the exercise.
For increased intensity during the Side-Lying Lateral Raise, try this exercise in a side plank position with your legs extended out to the side and top leg crossed over the bottom. Place your elbow right under your shoulder and lift your hips off the floor into a side plank. Your hips should remain stacked throughout the exercise.
Continue to execute the side-lying lateral raise from this position, squeezing the abdominals in tight to secure your position. You can try a few repetitions in this position, and then drop to the floor for the remainder of your sets.
Show It Off
Whether it’s for bulking up or toning up, these deltoid exercises will get the results you’re looking for. Use them as additions to your current shoulder routine, or as a routine in its entirety.
Your hard work will pay off and you’ll be tank top ready in no time at all.