Gay Fitness: Want Bigger Shoulders?
Q: I've been working out for six months and have seen a big improvement in my chest and arms, but my shoulders are still narrow and puny. What can I do?
A: Big, broad shoulders complement your arms, chest and back and punctuate a well-developed upper body.
While appearances are important, there are two reasons why strengthening the shoulder muscles is so important:
1) It's the best defense we have to preventing painful, often debilitating injuries to the shoulder joint including dislocation or, worse, a torn rotator cuff; and
2) The shoulder muscles assist in most exercises for your chest, back and arms; consequently weak shoulders mean those muscle groups won't reach their full potential.
The deltoid (musculus deltoideus) plays a critical role in building strong shoulder muscles. This is the large triangular muscle covering the shoulder joint which allows movement, extension and rotation of the arm. It's made up of three sections - the front, middle and rear deltoid. Also critical to improving your shoulder strength is working the upper traps (trapezius), located between the neck and shoulders.
The Shoulder Press is, without question, the best exercise to develop the front and middle delts as well as the traps.
TIP: If you turn your palms in (facing each other), rather than out when performing a Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press, you will increase the demand on your anterior deltoids and triceps and improve your overall pushing strength.
Avoid this exercise, however, if you are experiencing any shoulder pain! My recommendation is to restrict overhead pressing exercises such as the Shoulder Press to just one per workout and instead utilize Cable or Dumbbell Flyes, Lateral Raises, Shrugs and other exercises to avoid putting too much stress on the shoulder joints.
Here are two of my favorite exercises to help build big, strong shoulders. Ask a personal trainer at your gym or training facility to recommend others.
SIDE-LYING LATERAL RAISE: Lie on your left side on an incline bench with a dumbbell in your right hand and your palm facing your thigh. Without bending your elbow, raise your arm until it's in line with your shoulder as your rotate your palm outward.
CUBAN PRESS: Hold a pair of dumbbells at right angles above your shoulders, palms facing forward. Rotate your arms down so that your palms face the floor. Return to the starting position and lift your arms above your head. Repeat from the beginning.
TIP OF THE WEEK - MAKE YOUR OWN PROTEIN BARS
Here's a great recipe for healthy, easy-to-make protein bars which you can take to the office to consume for your mid-morning or mid-morning snack or keep on hand for when cravings start.
1 cup uncooked oats
6 scoops protein power
5 tbsp natural peanut butter
½ cup water
2 tbsp flaxseed
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
Combine dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Add peanut better and stir. Add water and vanilla and mix until dough becomes sticky. Spread in an 8x8 inch baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking oil. Refrigerate for two hours.
Total prep time: 10 minutes
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK - SEATED DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS (WITH PALMS IN)
Grab a pair of dumbbells and position them, with a palms-in grip, at shoulder level. Drive the weights up and overhead, extending your arms fully. Gently lock your elbows and pause for a few seconds before returning to the starting position in a controlled manner. Use a spotter or trainer if you are using heavy weights.