Here's the 5 Best Shoulder Exercises

These shoulder strengthening exercises
provide both athletic and cosmetic benefits!

The best shoulder exercises are a combination of compound and isolation movements that involve all 3 heads of the shoulder (deltoid) muscle. The shoulder muscles are involved in all chest, back and shoulder exercises.

There are 3 heads to the shoulder (deltoid) muscle:

  • Anterior (front)

  • Lateral (side)

  • Posterior (rear)
  • The front head is involved in all chest exercises and acts as a synergist (assisting muscle). The rear head is involved in all back exercises and also acts as a synergist muscle. The side head acts as a stabilising muscle when either chest or back exercises are performed. It's role is to the keep the upper arm stable as it moves through space. It works with the rotator cuff muscles in that role.

    Best Shoulder Exercises

    The best shoulder exercises for working the muscles directly are:

  • Shoulder Press

  • Front Raise

  • Lateral Raise

  • Upright Row

  • Bent-over Lateral Raise
  • There are of course, lots of variations of these exercises. They may be performed with free weights or machines, they may be done with barbells, dumbbells or cables, and the movements themselves can vary slightly as well, i.e. 'Arnold Press' compared to a standard Dumbbell Press.

    A number of other muscles are brought into play when these shoulder strengthening exercises are performed. The upper fibres of the trapezius muscle are involved when performing all the shoulder strengthening exercises, the triceps are involved when performing the shoulder press and the biceps are involved when performing the upright row.

    When you perform the best shoulder exercises, you can also target the different heads of the muscle by changing the position of your arm or your body in space.

    For example, if you perform the lateral raise exercise with palms down you work the lateral (side) head. However, if you perform the exercise with the palms forward you work more of the anterior (front) head.

    Also, if you stand upright and perform the lateral raise you work the lateral head of the deltoid. However, if you bend forward from the hips and perform the same movement you work the posterior (rear) head.

    If you change the lever length when you perform the shoulder isolation exercises (lateral raise, front raise, bent-over lateral raise) you can change the stress being placed on the muscle.

    For example, if you perform the lateral raise with arms straight it is more difficult than when you perform the same movement with arms bent. Furthermore, the greater the bend in the arms, the less difficultly is experienced with the lift. This is because there is less distance between the load (dumbbell) and the active fulcrum (shoulder joint).

    Overall, the shoulders play an integral part in creating an aesthetically-pleasing figure or physique. Well-developed shoulders can create the illusion of having a narrower waist and hips and adds an extra dimension to your physical appearance. It is definitely worthwhile including the best shoulder exercises in your workout program.

    For more detailed information on how to perform all of these shoulder exercises correctly, get a copy of Strength Training Anatomy, 3rd Edition.

    It will provide you with all the information you need in order to get the best results possible in your workout routines.

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