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Top 10 Women's Shoulder Exercises

Top 10 Women's Shoulder Exercises

Toned and defined shoulders top the list of the many benefits you will receive from doing the right women’s shoulder exercises. Another advantage is that developed shoulders automatically make your hips and waist look smaller. Besides helping you maintain good posture, shoulder training also allows you to wear a more extensive variety of clothes; and look much better in them. A lot of women want to work on their shoulders, but do not know how. Shoulder muscles are primarily compromised of the front, rear, and side deltoids. To shape them effectively, you need to work all 3 parts evenly; using both weighted and non-weighted exercises.


The push-up is a fundamental exercise that is excellent for building shoulder, back, chest, and arm muscles. Your body weight is the resistance, so you will not need any additional weights or equipment. Begin by facing the floor outstretched with your arms a little wider than shoulder width; hands flat on the floor. Keep your legs straight and your feet together throughout the entire exercise. Slowly lower yourself and stop right before you reach the floor. Pause, and slowly return back up to the starting position.

When you push up, be careful not to lock your elbows completely as you straighten your arms. Inhale on the way down and exhale as you come up. Your back should remain straight and level to balance your body. Try to do 2 to 3 sets of as many as you can handle using the proper form; almost to failure. For a more advanced workout, perform 1 to 2 sets to failure.


Similar to the push-up, a pull-up utilizes your body weight. Grip the bar in the underhand position in order to target the shoulder and back muscles. Slowly pull yourself up to where your chin is just past the bar. Pause, and lower yourself back down. There is a pull-up bar assistance machine available if you need help initially.

It will take time to develop the strength needed to perform a large number of repetitions, so do not get discouraged. Exhale as you pull up and inhale on the way down. Work up to 2 to 3 sets, following the same guidelines as the push-up sets. As you become more experienced, you can put weights on your feet for added resistance.

Lateral raises

Lateral raises are one of the best women’s shoulder exercises for working the middle of the deltoids. Stand with your legs at shoulder width apart; holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your hands are resting at your sides in the beginning of the exercise. Slowly raise your arms until they are straight out; imagine making a snow angel. Pause, and then lower them down again, almost touching your hips with the weights.

Do not swing the weights and stay in control of your movements. Breathe out while you raise the weights and in as you lower them. For a more advanced challenge, extend the pause at the top of the movement to 2 to 3 seconds before bringing your arms down.

Forward raise

The forward raise is sometimes called a front raise because it affects the front deltoid muscles. It resembles the lateral raise in form and movements except the weights are raised in front of you. Be sure to keep your arms straight out and parallel to the floor when extended. Again, perform the exercise slowly and with full control. Raising your arms one at a time in an alternating pattern is a good way to add variety to your workout.

Military press

Working the middle of the deltoid as well as the trapezius muscles is what makes the military press such a powerful exercise. Hold a barbell with light weights on it using a grip slightly wider than shoulder width; palms facing inward. Bring the bar up to your shoulders for the starting position. Slowly raise it above your head, but do not completely lock your arms. Lower the bar back down to the front of your neck.

Breathe out as you push the weight up and take a breath as you lower it. The military press can be performed seated or standing; do not lock your legs and keep your knees slightly bent. An advanced variation of the exercise includes lowering the bar behind your neck as well as in front of you.

Dumbbell presses

Dumbbell presses are essentially military presses with dumbbells instead of a barbell. Sometimes, it is helpful to start with dumbbells as they are easier to control. Presses are typically done seated to provide balance; as with a number of other women’s shoulder exercises. Focus on keeping your back straight and your chest out as you raise the dumbbells slowly.

Shoulder shrugs

Holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, slowly bring your shoulders up to your ears; or as close as possible. Pause for 1 to 2 seconds and then lower your arms. Avoid rolling your shoulders in a rotating fashion by concentrating on just raising and lowering them; in a shrugging motion.

Prone shoulder extension

Hold a dumbbell in each hand while laying face down on a bench. Turn your palms to face up and slowly raise the dumbbells behind you. Bring them back down until the weights are just above the floor. You will feel the rear deltoid muscle working during this exercise.

Upright row

With dumbbells in your hands, hang your arms in front of you; palms facing towards your body. Stand with your feet at shoulder width and bend your arms until the weights reach chest level. Lower them back down and repeat.

Incline bench press

Sit at a bench with a backrest on a 45 degree angle. Inhale as you lower the barbell to your chest and raise it back up; exhaling. You should use much lower weight than you normally would on a bench press and go slowly.

Shoulder training tips

Choose 2 to 3 exercises to do each week and alternate them so that you continue to change the way your shoulders are worked. In general, women’s shoulder exercises should be done 3 times per week with at least one day of rest in between. Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts; consistency is the key. For weighted exercises, start out using light weights that allow you to complete 10 to 15 repetitions. Try to work up to 1 to 3 sets over time as your muscles strengthen.

written by Jason Cannata

October 25, 2009.

Resources[tt_news]=332 – Woman Knows - Real Women’s Fitness

References – Ezine - WebMD - Essortment

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