7 December, 2018

With the shoulder being the most moveable and unstable joint in the body, shoulder training has several benefits beyond the aesthetic. The muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the shoulder are what keep it stable, making them important tissues to strengthen to keep the shoulder strong, flexible, more coordinated and conditioned to handle stress.

To train the shoulders effectively, it is important to understand the anatomy of the shoulder and the make-up of the deltoid muscle.




As can be seen, the deltoid muscle is divided into three main parts – the front (anterior), middle (lateral) and rear (posterior). While all three heads are activated to an extent during all shoulder exercises, each head can be emphasised through the use of specific exercises and the way you perform them.

Here is a list of shoulder exercises to try next time you’re at the gym, with each emphasising different parts of the deltoid muscle:

Barbell Military PressBarbell Military Press

Front and lateral emphasis

  • Standing, feet shoulder width apart, normal posture
  • Bar positioned across clavicles, hands outside shoulder width apart, palms forward
  • Keeping forearms under bar, push bar upwards, keeping close to face, elbows slightly forward
  • When bar clears the head, start pushing slightly backwards until arms fully extended and the bar is balanced over the body
  • Reverse movement on the way down, keeping bar close to head – stop at level of clavicles

Dumbbell Lateral RaiseDumbbell Lateral Raises

Lateral deltoid emphasis

  • Standing, feet shoulder width apart, normal posture, slight bend at hips
  • Dumbbells in front of the body with palms facing each other and arms slightly bent
  • Keeping the palms facing the floor and elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbells away from the body in line with the shoulders until the dumbbells are slightly higher than the shoulder
  • Lower the dumbbells in the same movement under control to the starting position

Barbell Upright RowBarbell Upright Row

Lateral deltoid emphasis

  • Grip bar in a pronated (overhand) grip, slightly outside the width of the thighs
  • Lift the bar up to the sternum, staying close to the torso
  • Keep the elbows higher than the bar and maintain a neutral spine
  • Lower under control to starting position

Dumbbell Front Raises

Front deltoid emphasis

  • Dumbbell Front RaiseStanding, feet shoulder width apart, normal posture, slight bend at hips
  • Dumbbells in front of the body with palms facing your thighs and arms slightly bent
  • Lift the dumbbells to the front with a slight bend at the elbow and the palms of the hands always facing down. Continue to go up until the arms are slightly above parallel to the floor
  • Lower the dumbbells in the same movement under control to the starting position

Arnold Dumbbell Press

Front and lateral emphasis

  • Arnold PressSit on an exercise bench with back support and hold two dumbbells in front of you at about upper chest level with your palms facing your body and your elbows bent (starting position should look like the contracted portion of a dumbbell curl)
  • Raise the dumbbells as you rotate the palms of your hands until they are facing forward
  • Continue lifting the dumbbells until your arms are extended above you in straight arm position
  • After a second pause at the top, begin to lower the dumbbells to the original position by rotating the palms of your hands towards you

Reverse Dumbbell Fly

Rear deltoid emphasis

  • Reverse Dumbbell FlyAssume a bent over position with knees, spine in a neutral position and dumbbells hanging straight down, elbows slightly bent
  • Commence movement by bringing dumbbells out to the side of the body
  • Finish with the arm fully horizontally abducted, scapula retracted and elbows still slightly bent
  • Lower under control until dumbbells are straight down

Standing Reverse Cable Fly

Rear deltoid emphasis

  • Adjust the pulleys so that they are above your head
  • Reverse Cable FlyGrab the left pulley with your right hand and the right pulley with your left hand, crossing them in front of you. This will be your starting position
  • Initiate the movement by moving your arms back and outward, keeping your arms straight as you execute the movement
  • Pause at the end of the motion before returning the handles to the start position



If you’d like to learn more about different shoulder exercises, and a lot more about the body, anatomy, exercises, programming and more, whether for personal interest or in aid of a career change, consider taking the Certificate III and IV in Fitness. Enquire now for more information.




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