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The shoulders are out most versatile joint. There is no other joint that is as versatile as the shoulders. Yet with this versatility comes weakness. To remain stable, the muscles, ligaments and tendons must be kept healthy and in place. Consequently, it is important to make sure these tissues are strengthened to keep the shoulder strong and flexible.
Before we get into the exercise portion, a little anatomy lesson is needed. The muscles of the shoulder consist of three heads – the anterior (front), medial (side) and rear. These muscles help to keep the joint functioning properly. Weakness in any of these muscles can cause instability and can lead to injuries. Many people are injured because they life weights which are too heavy over their heads. This is due to lack of stabilization of the shoulder joint.
Exercises that help to strengthen these muscles can be performed at home or the gym. They can be easily integrated into your existing routine or done separately.
Lateral raises are used to develop the medial part of the shoulder and upper back muscles. If you are a beginner, then start with lightweight dumbbells of no more than five pounds. Stand straight, tighten your abdominal muscles, and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your side and palms facing inward. Slowly raise the dumbbells out to each side until they are level with your shoulders. Keep your arms straight, elbow slightly bent and palms facing downward. Pause and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to your sides. This should be done in three sets of 10 reps each.
To avoid injuries, try not to raise your arms above your shoulders or moving your upper back. You can also perform this exercise sitting on a chair or bench to provide stability if needed.
By performing this same exercise only with your torso bent forward, you can then workout the rear portion of your shoulder. Bend forward from your hips so your upper body is parallel to the floor. Remember to tighten your abdominal muscles when performing this exercise.
The front portion of the shoulder muscles can be worked by holding the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing your body. Slowly raise your arms in front of you until they are parallel to the floor. Pause and slowly return to your starting position.
Seated Dumbbell Press
The seated dumbbell press is used to add mass to the shoulder muscles. To best perform this exercise you need to utilize a workout chair with a back support. The dumbbell press is preferred by many athletes because it allows a greater range of motion of overall development. Start this exercise by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Sit on the bench and place your feet flat on the floor. Raise the dumbbells just above your shoulders with your elbows pointing down and palms forward. Slowly raise the dumbbells above your head until they almost touch and your arms are straight. Pause and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
You can perform this exercise either standing or sitting. When you raise the dumbbells over your head, do no lock your elbows. Keep your head and neck straight and your abdominal muscles tight. Beginners should perform three sets with 10 repetitions in each set.
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