If you want a full and balanced weight lifting workout (and even if you are specifically aiming especially hard for one part of the body or one muscle group, you should still go for balance) then you can’t just stick with the same old bench press and curls. While the arms might stick out the most and get you that attention you’re craving, only a weight lifter who concentrates on a balanced work out is going to enjoy the full benefits of a serious program.
One of the parts of the body that often doesn’t get enough attention is the shoulders. The shoulders are one of the hardest parts of the body to train. For one thing, the shoulder, which basically means the deltoid muscle, is comprised of three separate “heads”: the anterior (front), the medial (middle), and the posterior (back). This is what allows for our shoulders to have such a wide range of motion, and is part of the reason that there is not one single weight lifting exercise that can efficiently work out the entire shoulder.
What does this mean? Basically that to work out the shoulders (which every weight lifter absolutely should do) you will need to know more than one technique of weight lifting. Individuals who are working out the shoulders know to use a wide variety of exercises to work out the shoulders, and they also know that since the shoulder can be more sensitive, and less forgiving if you screw up (hello torn rotator cuff), that proper technique is far more important for working out the shoulders than weight is.
Using good form when working out the shoulders is absolutely critical in order to avoid shoulder injuries. There are several shoulder exercises that tend to be more popular than others, including: military press, lateral dumbbell raises, overhead dumbbell presses, and seated rows. These four are the most common weight lifting exercises for the shoulder that are commonly taught, and the combination of these exercises can help guarantee that your shoulders get a full impressive workout.
There are some differing opinions on this, as there are certainly resistance machines that are more than adequate for working out the shoulders, but many bodybuilders still prefer the good old fashioned dumbbells, and lighter dumbbells work very well. Especially early on, you don’t need a lot of weight to get your shoulders in shape, and you definitely want to start out slowly. A shoulder injury can be absolutely devastating, so slow and steady is definitely the way to go with shoulder exercises.
Most shoulder exercise combinations will have you do one set of each specific exercise anywhere from 8 to 15 times per set, 2 or 3 times a week. Start out with the lowest weight and least amount of reps, and once you get to the point where you can easily do 15 reps of an exercise, move up to the next weight and drop down to eight reps until you can move up again.
Another reason to be careful with the shoulders: going heavier won’t bulk you up. But going with the lesser weights will actually shape and tone you more quickly than heavier weights. Be careful with the shoulders, and you’ll be rewarded with a great looking body.