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Build Solid Shoulders

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The broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped look is the very symbol of a fit and trim body. But the V-shaped torso you want isn't just for good looks.

Your shoulder joints are the key to just about any arm action you'll ever perform — not just in sports but in your everyday life.

The range of movement that your shoulder joint allows is a true wonder of nature. The meeting of your upper-arm bone (humerus) and shoulder blade (scapula) is the most freely movable of all your body's ball-and-socket joints. The price you pay for this is a susceptibility to injury, which is another important reason to work your shoulder muscles.

The secret to developing your shoulder muscles is to duplicate (with resistance) the movements for which they're responsible. You'll protect a key joint and be on your way to building broad shoulders.

Kinesiology & Physiology

There are three different sections to the shoulders:

  1. Lateral Deltoid (Side Head)
  2. Anterior Deltoid (Front Head)
  3. Posterior Deltoid (Rear Head).

Each area should be developed to its fullest if impressive deltoids are your goal.

Pressing movements tend to work all three heads of deltoid in varying proportions, depending on the kind of presses you're doing. But to isolate, develop and shape each individual deltoid head you can rely on lateral movements.

Presses are a two-joint movement, involving both the shoulder muscles and the triceps. Laterals are a one-joint movement, isolating the deltoids more completely. You can't lift as much weight doing laterals as you can with presses, but you put the intensity right where you need it to get maximum results.

Shoulder Press

AKA Military Press

Sit at the end of a bench, with your feet firmly on the floor. Raise the dumbbells to shoulder height while keeping your elbows out, thumbs facing in, palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells to arm's length overhead, then lower the weights to the starting position. This exercise can also be done standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Shoulder Press Demonstration

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

AKA Dumbbell Side Raise AKA Lateral Arm Raises

The lateral dumbbell raise targets the deltoids. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended to hip level at your sides. Stand with your feet and knees together (knees slightly bent), eyes focused directly in front of you. Slowly lift the weights up until they're parallel to each other at shoulder level. As you raise the dumbbells, be sure that your elbows are slightly bent, your wrists are pronated and your Index fingers are pointing somewhat downward. Then return the weights to the starting position and immediately begin your next rep. Don't use your lower back, momentum or leverage to help you lift the weights.

Targets: Side Deltoid

Dumbbell Lateral Raise Demonstration

Bent-Over Lateral Raise

AKA Bent-Over Flyes AKA Inverted Flyes

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Lying face down on a bench or bending over with your arms hanging down, raise two dumbbells as you would with a lateral raise, as high possible above the level of your back. Perform the movement by bending forward slightly at your waist so that you're raising the dumbbells forward and lowering them rearward. Pause with the dumbbells held at about head level, and make sure that the descent is slow and controlled.

Targets: Rear Deltoid

Bent-Over Lateral Raise Demonstration

Alternate Dumbbell Front Raise

Raise your arms in front of you until they're between 35 and 60 degrees above horizontal. You can also rotate your hands outward as you raise the dumbbells and inward as you lower them. It's important that you raise the dumbbells as high as possible. This helps to develop and maintain flexibility in your shoulder joints, and it allows for greater development and definition of the muscles involved.

Targets: Front Deltoid

Alternate Dumbbell Front Raise Demonstration

Other hubs in the series:



Glen (author) from Australia on May 24, 2009:


And not just that but video footage of me in action! :D

Julie-Ann Amos from Gloucestershire, UK on May 24, 2009:

Nice hub as always. and how kind of you to share such a lushious picture of yourself with us all lol

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