Carve shapely delts and deftly handle a handstand with these two moves.

Standing Arnold Dumbbell Press

Form: Standing Arnold Dumbbell Press

A standard overhead press recruits more of the medial delts, but back in the day, Arnold Schwarzenegger found a way to tweak this move by essentially combining a front raise, an overhead press and a shoulder rotation. The resultant Arnold press effectively works all three heads of the deltoid group, primarily hitting the anterior and medial delts on the press, and the posterior delts during the rotation and for stabilization.

Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your shoulders, elbows down, with your palms facing rearward as if you have just completed a biceps curl. Positioning the weights in front of you means more shoulder flexion and a greater range of motion with an emphasis on the anterior delts during each rep.

Grip the weights as if punching the sky — knuckles up — and don’t let your wrists flex or extend. Shifting the dumbbell in space can stress the wrists and could potentially pull your shoulders out of alignment.

Press the dumbbells overhead, simultaneously rotating your wrists so that at the top, your palms are facing forward. Perform the press and the rotation as one fluid movement to ensure the anterior delts remain the targeted muscles. End with the dumbbells straight overhead, biceps aligned with your ears, shoulders stable and locked down, spine neutral.

Slowly lower the weights back to the start to keep tension on your anterior delts, and pause at the bottom before the next rep. This prevents you from bouncing or using momentum and keeps your muscles — not your joints — under stress.

Exhale forcefully with each rep, which activates the deep-seated core muscles to help maintain spinal stability, keep your rib cage from flaring out and prevent your lower back from arching.

You also can do this move seated, which allows you to focus on your shoulders without worrying about balance and core control.

Pike Push-Up

Function: Pike Push-Up

Want entry into the handstand club? This progression can help get you there, teaching you proper hips-over-shoulders positioning while setting your deltoids on fire. Regardless, it’s a kick-ass workout for your entire upper body, training scapular and shoulder stability while also activating your core as you hold that pike.

Choose a high box or bench, then place your hands on the floor and extend your legs behind you so your toes are on top of the box, feet flexed. Walk your hands backward and, as they come closer to the box, lift your hips up until they are stacked over your shoulders and your body makes a 90-degree angle at your hips (a pike). This vertical torso positioning is ideal for training your shoulders — not your chest or back — to do the move.

Position your hands outside your shoulders and rotate them internally a bit for optimal stability, then spread your fingers and press them into the floor so your bodyweight isn’t focused in the heels of your hands.

Lock your shoulder blades into your back and brace your core to ensure the focus is on your delts and your balance is solid. Look straight ahead — not at the floor or underneath you toward your hips — to avoid arching and straining your neck and traps.

Lower slowly toward the floor until your elbows are bent 90 degrees or your head touches down (whichever happens first), keeping your torso vertical throughout. The more angled your hips are toward the bench, the more of a chest exercise it becomes.

Imagine pressing the floor away from you as you push your hips straight up toward the ceiling and extend your elbows to come to the start.

Your wrists have to be able to go into a full 90-degree extension, so if you struggle with wrist mobility, turn your fingers outward to relieve some of the tension.

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Want delts that stand out? These three moves hit your shoulders from all angles to build shapely deltoids.

The shoulders are made up of three deltoid muscles: the front, sides and back, and since these muscles are responsible for movement of the arms in three different directions, we have to use a variety of exercise if we want all-around balanced shoulder development. If you are doing lots of bench presses with barbells or dumbbells, you’re will be getting plenty of frontal deltoid action.

The frequently ignored area of the shoulder is the rear deltoid. But when this is fully developed, it improves your posture and enhances the overall shoulder region.

It could be argued that the most important delt head is the side (lateral) area. When this is developed, it increases shoulder width, adding to that impressive “V” shape.

This workout hits all three muscles, giving you those gorgeous, sexy shoulders.

What to Do

If you’re serious about building stunning delts, train your shoulders at least twice a week with a day’s rest between workouts.

Beginners: Start with light weights and do three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Intermediates: Increase your weight and aim for three sets of eight to 10 reps. 

Advanced: To add mass, lift for three sets of five to six reps, using heavy weights.

Upright Row

(front and side shoulders)

Start: Stand erect holding two dumbbells.

Move: Raise the weights as high as possible, keeping the elbows up. Lower and repeat.

Tip: Make sure you start each rep from a completely straight-arm position.

Incline Dumbbell Flye

(rear shoulders)

Start: Set the incline on the bench at approximately 25 degrees and lie facedown on the bench.

Move: Raise the dumbbells out to the sides. Lower and repeat.

Tip: Keep arms slightly unlocked at you raise them up.

Seated Barbell Press

(side and front shoulders)

Start: Sit comfortably at the end of a flat bench, holding a loaded barbell in front of you at shoulder height.

Move: Press the barbell up to arms’ length. Lower and repeat.

Tip: Do not lean excessively back during the pressing movement.

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Integrate these moves into your program to improve flexibility and protect your shoulders from all angles.

The shoulder is a tricky joint because it moves in multiple directions as well as in rotation. Ensuring the joint is mobile both before and after training is key to executing solid lifts and preventing injury. Integrate these moves into your program to improve flexibility and protect your shoulders from all angles.


Arm Circles

Do 10 large arm circles to the front and 10 to the back with each arm. Repeat twice.


Swing your arms open and closed at shoulder height, giving yourself a hug. Change the top arm for each rep. Do 20 reps.

Slow Plate Opener

Lie on your side and hold a 2.5-pound weight plate with your fingers through the hole, arm extended along the floor straight out from your shoulder, palm down. Keeping your arm straight, lift and open it to the side and behind you as far as you can go without twisting and pause. Then lift your hand toward your head and pause. Reverse steps to return to the start. Do eight on each arm.

Preworkout and Postworkout

Banded Shoulder Distraction 

Attach a superband to a pull-up bar and loop one hand through the end. Lunge back with the same-side leg with your arm extended and let the band pull it gently up and away. Relax your shoulder and lat as you slowly rotate your palm upward and then downward while keeping your arm extended.

Preworkout: Do 30 seconds on each side.

Postworkout: Do 60 to 90 seconds on each side.

Distracted Twist

Stand up from your shoulder distraction, then turn away from the band anchor toward your working arm so the arm is pulled across your body. Hold and twist toward and away gently, stretching the back side of the joint.

Preworkout: Do 30 seconds on each side.

Postworkout: Do 60 to 90 seconds on each side.

Standing Lacrosse-Ball Roll

Stand in a doorway (or facing the leg of a squat rack). Place the lacrosse ball between the wall and the area where your front delt and pecs meet and lean forward slightly. Roll around until you find an area that is tight, then hold and raise and lower your arm slowly.

Preworkout: Do no more than two minutes per side.

Postworkout: Do two to three minutes, depending on tightness.

Lying Lacrosse-Ball Roll

Lie faceup and place a lacrosse ball between one trap and the floor. Roll up and down, back and forth, pausing when you find tight areas. Move the ball to the area between your shoulder blade and your spine and repeat this process. Do both sides.

Preworkout: Do no more than two minutes per side.

Postworkout: Do two to five minutes, depending on tightness.

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Tone up and build confidence with these four simple yet powerful arm exercises.

As the weather begins to hint at sunshine and warmer temps, the realization that you will soon need to shed layers of clothing begins to set in. But are you ready to reveal your arms to the world?

“It isn’t uncommon for winter weight gain to leave some women feeling discouraged or lacking confidence, especially when it comes to their upper body, as they transition from jackets to tank tops,” says Felicia Romero, a trainer and former fitness cover model who recently appeared on season 2 of Fit to Fat to Fit on Lifetime. “I tell my clients to set realistic goals and be consistent with nutrition and exercise plans to ensure they feel confident, sexy and like a knockout in whatever they want to wear this season.”

Romero is a firm believer that one of the best ways to tone and sculpt the upper body, back and arms is to mix heavy weights with lighter ones. She suggests the following moves to create the toned, sculpted arms you’re excited to show off: 

If you’re panicking with Memorial Day just around the corner, be sure to combine these weightlifting moves with a healthy eating plan to see toning results at a faster rate. “You can speed up your progress by incorporating more weight (every four to six weeks) or adding in a cardio element,” Romero says. “When working the upper body, I like to work in HIIT exercises to increase fat loss while toning. To level up, try adding burpees, jumping jacks, squat jumps or frog jumps to your upper-body workout — 20- to 30-second intervals with 10 to 15 seconds of rest.”

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By identifying the most effective moves for shoulder muscles, ACE hopes that you can be more efficient with your workouts and, thus, more likely to stick with them for the long term.

The shoulders — the deltoids — are among the most important muscles we use in daily life. Whether we’re pushing, pulling or lifting things over our heads, the shoulder muscles always come into play. They’re also a key factor in aesthetics. Broad shoulders make a person look strong and confident, and they can even make one’s waist look slimmer.

Despite all the functional and aesthetic benefits of strong shoulders, they’re also some of the most misunderstood and oft-neglected muscles.

The American Council on Exercise teamed up with the exercise scientists from the Clinical Exercise Physiology program at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to determine which exercises are most effective for strengthening the shoulder muscles. 

By identifying the most effective moves for shoulder muscles, ACE’s hope is that exercisers can be more time efficient with their workouts and, thus, more likely to stick with them for the long term.

Complete the quick form below and download the complete research study.

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