A solid set of round shoulders is the key to the development of a well proportioned physique.
This shoulder workout for women, put together by IFBB Bikini Pro Brittany Tracy, includes exercises that will emphasize the look of your physique with better tone and posture.
Anatomy the Deltoid
The shoulder muscle is comprised of three separate heads:
- Anterior: The front head that functions in the upward and inward motion of the arm.
- Medial: The side head that functions in the outward motion of the arm.
- Posterior: The rear head that functions in the outward rotation and backwards movement of the arm.
The workout provided below targets each head of the shoulder muscle through both compound and isolation movements in order for complete development.
Warm up: Arm Circles – 3 sets of 10 reps
Seated Dumbbell Press – 1 warm up set of 15 reps, 4 sets of 12 reps
Lateral Raises – 2 sets of 15 reps
Arnold Press – 3 sets of 15 reps
Front Raises – 4 sets of 15 reps
Upright Rows – 4 sets of 10 reps
Warm Up: Arm Circles – 3 sets of 10 reps
It is important to get some blood pumping into your shoulder before starting with the actual workout. The shoulder joint has a wide range of movement, leaving it susceptible to injury. Arm circles will warm your shoulders up and prepare them for the workout ahead.
In the video above, Brittany performs arm circles by going through a full motion and using extra weight. The traditional way of doing arm circles can be seen in the video below. You can opt for whichever variation you feel more comfortable with, but make sure you feel a burn.
Exercise#1: Seated Dumbbell Press – 1 warm up set of 15-20 reps, 4 sets of 12 reps
The seated dumbbell press is a fundamental compound movement for the deltoids. All three heads are targeted and the core is worked as well. You will want to start off with a warm-up set in the higher rep range with a lighter weight to get your shoulder ready for the 4 working sets to follow. As mentioned earlier, warming up will work to eliminate your chances of injury.
After completing the warm up set, proceed with the working sets and pick a weight that will challenge you for the final 3-4 reps. It is during these final reps whereby you induce the most change in your body by really pushing yourself.
Brittany has demonstrated the dumbbell press movement in the video above, but I have included a more detailed tutorial below.
Exercise#2: Lateral Raises – 2 sets of 15 reps
Lateral raises are an isolation movement for the shoulders that bring emphasis onto the medial head of the deltoid muscle.
Brittany demonstrates a variation of lateral raises with her arms and forearms forming a 90-degree angle. The more common form of this exercise is raising your arms to the side and keeping them straight. One point to consider is not to complete this movement with a jerking or swinging motion. This will take all the work off of the medial head. Complete this movement in a slow and controlled manner. To minimize the involvement of other muscles you can do lateral raises sitting on a bench.
Brittany goes hard in the gym, and works her way to doing drop sets for this exercise. If you want to challenge yourself and prolong the burn, go ahead and try the same. But if you are still learning the proper technique and movements of these exercises, stick with the 2 sets.
Refer to the video below for the more traditional form of doing lateral raises rather than the version that Brittany demonstrates.
Exercise#3: Arnold Press – 3 sets of 15 reps
The Arnold Press is another compound movement for the shoulders. The only difference between this and the shoulder press is a longer range of motion and a rotation of the arms at the beginning of the movement.
The Arnold Press targets all three heads of the shoulder, but brings further focus on the front dealt with the rotation of the movement at the beginning.
You can perform the Arnold Press sitting on a bench, as Brittany has demonstrated in the video above, or you can do these standing as can be seen in the video tutorial below. You will be able to use a lighter weight standing, and your core will be brought into action as well. Experiment to see which variation brings you the best contraction.
Exercise#4: Front Raises – 4 sets of 15 reps
Front raises are an isolation movement for the anterior head of the deltoid muscle.
Like with the lateral raises, it is very easy to perform these with incorrect technique. Many people make the mistake of using momentum to get the weight up through a swinging motion. You should aim to complete each rep with a controlled motion and slowly returning the weight to the starting position. You want the anterior head to be doing most of the work. Brittany has demonstrated this movement from a standing position, but a great way to minimize the involvement from other muscles is to perform front raises sitting a bench. Again, use a weight that really makes you work on the final few reps.
Exercise#5: Upright Rows – 4 sets of 10 reps
The upright row is a good finishing movement because it is a compound movement that targets each head of the shoulder muscle as well as the traps.
The upright row brings further emphasis onto the side and front delts allowing for a great burn to end your workout.
Like with other shoulder exercises, it is very easy to bring other muscles in to do most of the work. For upright rows in particular, the back can be easily involved. If you want the full benefit of this exercise, then you must perform the movement in a slow and controlled manner. Chest up, head straight, and bring the weight to a point where your elbows are above your shoulders.
A cue to keep in mind is to imagine your hands as mere hooks that bring the weight up. Keeping this in mind will bring maximum exposure of the exercise on to the intended targeted muscles.
You can perform upright rows with dumbbells, as Brittany has demonstrated above, or a barbell as can be seen in the tutorial video below. Using dumbbells will work each shoulder muscle individually while the barbell gets them to work together. Altering between the two during your time on this workout will be a good idea.
To Sum Up
Start off by doing this workout once a week. If you feel like your shoulders need less time for recovery and you really want to focus on developing them, you can move on to two times per week. Make sure to keep at least a 3 day rest in between however. Training when your muscles haven’t properly recovered does more harm than good.
Perform the workout for a total of 8 weeks and see how it works for you. The number one way to stay motivated is to keep track of your progress with pictures. Take pictures before you start this routine. Do a side pose, front pose, and a back pose to expose each head of the deltoid. Comparing your pictures to the ones you will take once you have gone through 8 weeks of this will lead to a boost of motivation once you start seeing results.
Keep track of the weights that you use so you can progress over time rather than staying at the same weight for a prolonged period. If you use the same weight during the whole 8 weeks of this routine, you will experience stagnated results. The key to adding tone to your shoulders over the long term will be to progressively overload them with more weight over time.
If you have never stepped foot in the gym before, then this workout may be a quite tough for you. Don’t be disheartened. Use lighter weights and push through to build on your strength.
A lot of women worry about getting to broad. Don’t let that be you. Your body will only grow in proportion to how much you eat. Adding muscle to your body is the equivalent of adding tone. So you will look better the more muscle you add to your physique.
This shoulder workout for women was put together to help you sculpt the deltoids so you can look even better in sleeveless!