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What are some exercises that will strengthen my shoulders?

Your shoulder joint, unlike your hip, is a shallow ball and socket. It has four small muscle groups that are called the rotator cuff muscles. The health of these small muscles is essential to shoulder health. These small muscle groups often get injured and may need some attention when beginning a shoulder strengthening program. Internal and external shoulder rotation exercises standing with a rubber band, light dumbbells lying down, or single handle pulley standing with an adjustable cable machine, can be used to warm these muscles up and prepare them for a lifting routine. The elbow should remain at 90 degrees with a firm wrist. I also suggest doing one set and working up to three of the rear lateral shoulder flys (also known as lateral raise). Use a reverse pec dec machine, pulley in the bottom position, or dumbbells seated, to further warm the shoulder to prepare for overhead press. Keep your arm longs with soft elbows. Focus on the rear part of your shoulder to move the weight.

Dumbbell overhead press with a neutral grip is a great exercise. It is a lot less stressful to the shoulder joint but is a very effective strengthening exercise. Start light and sit in a seated bench for support. Try not to arch your back, remain upright. Exhale on the lift, 10 – 15 repetitions. This exercise can also be performed on a shoulder press machine. Use the neutral grip, if available. Set the height of the machine so that the weight stack does not touch in the bottom position. This is a double joint activity, superior to single joint activities for overall strength.

Front dumbbell raises are done standing, feet shoulder-width apart, soft knees and standing erect, with the back of your hands facing up. Lift one dumbbell at a time, covering your nose in the mirror. Use a soft elbow, coming slightly toward the mid line of the body as you lift. This can also be done with a low pulley handle, light kettle bell, or by holding a plate with both hands and lifting it to nose level.

Start light and master the form. Remember to do the warm up to protect your shoulder joint, before starting to lift heavier. There are many shoulder exercises but start with some easier movements before trying something complex. Let an exercise professional give you some tips on form, your shoulders will be glad you did!

What is the proper way to warm up before exercising?

Warm up should be based on the exercise activity, but in general you want to be hot– three to five minutes minimum. Keep it dynamic. Jump around. If you have been sedentary, warm up your major muscle groups before starting any vigorous activity. Some general recommendations are: jump rope for two to three minutes, 50 jumping jacks focusing on the full movement, 20 to 30 air squats, five to ten lunges each leg, 10 to 20 hip extensions, hip rotations (stepping over a fence), 10 to 20 front or side leg swings both sides, arm circles, shoulder rotations, push-ups to your fitness level, burpees, kicks, punches, martial arts moves or medicine ball. Also, jumping on a cardio machine, walking, jogging, skipping or any combination of the above are all great warmup moves. Warming up prepares the body and your mind for physical activity and reduces the chance of injury.

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