Shoulders occupy a very important position in our life. They are extremely visible, and therefore the obsession with broad shoulders. But they also perform a very important load carrying role in our day-to-day life. And, of course, there is a premium placed on good looking, strong shoulders.
Even discounting the aesthetic reasons, shoulder strengthening exercises should be included in your workout routine to keep your shoulder joint stable, says Pawan Jani, Pune-based coach and co-founder of Chakra Fitness. “To push a great volume of weight one must have strong shoulders,” notes Rahul Huidrom, strength coach at Cult.fit. “This feels like an inspirational quote but it is absolutely true. Also, there are many daily activities that use the shoulder muscles — lifting things, carrying groceries, manual labour, household chores, moving furniture, etc. It is therefore critical that they are able to handle the load well.”
While the shoulder complex has about eight muscles that attach to the scapula, humerus, and clavicle, it is also the most mobile and unstable joint in the body. “The ‘ball’ in the upper arm is actually larger than the socket that holds it, and with the range of motion being so great, it is susceptible to injury,” explains Huidrom. “To remain stable, it must be kept in place by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Therefore, it is very important to make sure these soft tissues are strengthened to keep the shoulder strong, flexible, coordinated, and conditioned to handle stress. By strengthening the shoulder muscles we can also protect ourselves from injuries due to overuse of the shoulders.” By developing shoulder strength, one can not only protect the shoulder joint but also combat many kinds of shoulder pains and prevent further injuries, adds Jani. Moreover, strong shoulders help you efficiently perform everyday tasks such as lifting heavy objects or play sports.
The deltoid is largest of the shoulder muscles and gives the shoulder its rounded-off shape. It plays an important role in raising your arms and preventing joint dislocation while carrying heavy objects. Four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) make up the rotator cuff and the cuff stabilises the shoulder. Triceps brachii in the back of the upper arm helps straighten the arm; latissimus dorsi helps in rotation; pectorlis major, pectoralis minor, biceps brachii and teres major make up the rest of the shoulder complex.
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Shoulder strengthening exercises should be an important part of everyone’s regular exercise routine, advise both Huidrom and Jani. “Strengthening this major muscle group has several positives, including improved posture and decreased back pain.That’s not all. When you combine shoulder strengthening exercises with shoulder stretches, it also gives you the strength and flexibility to easily perform everyday tasks. Having strong shoulders can also help prevent injuries to the rotator cuff,” says Huidrom.
Anecdotal evidence points to women feeling they should have a shoulder workout routine different from that of men. “The general perception is lean and petite figure or frame for women and bigger and stronger [frame] for men,” says Huidrom. Both Jani and Huidrom don’t see the need for a gender-based shoulder workout routine. “Both genders can have the same workout routine for shoulders and, for that matter, overall fitness. There is no difference when it comes to exercise selection but the goals can be different. It should be noted that sometimes women can gain strength faster than men,” he says.
Rahul Huidrom’s Shoulder Workouts
Barbell Shoulder press: 6-10 reps
Seated Arnold Press: 10-12 reps
Upright Rows: 8-12 reps
Seated Lateral Raises: 8-12 reps
Front Plate Raises: 8-12 reps
High rope Face Pulls: 12-18 reps
Seated dumbbell Shoulder press: 6-10 reps
Single Arm Cable Lateral Raises: 10-12 reps
Reverse Pec Dec: 12-14 reps
Seated Smith Machine Press: 8-10 reps
Upright Rows: 12-14 reps
Barbell Shrugs: 8-12 reps
Seated Alt Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 6-10 reps
Barbell Push Press: 6-8 reps
Seated Dumbbell Front Raises: 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly: 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Shrugs: 8-12 reps
Upright Rows: 10-12 reps
Pawan Jani’s Shoulder workouts
Barbell Overhead Press: 8-10 reps
Arnold Press: 10 reps
Lateral Raises: 12-15 reps
Barbell Front Raises: 12-15 reps
Seated Machine Press: 8-10 reps
Upright Rows: 12 reps
Pullovers: 12 reps
Shrugs: 15 reps
Seated Alternate Dumbbell Press: 8 reps (each side)
Rear Deltoid Fly: 15 reps
Plate Front Raises: 12-15 reps
Waiter’s Carry: 25 steps