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Weight-Lifting Shoulder Exercises

Searching for the right weight-lifting shoulder exercise? T

here are plenty of shoulder exercises that can be performed using either free weights or machines.

There are also ways to avoid aggravating shoulder pain whilst working out your shoulder muscles.

Before you start

Before you begin these weight-lifting exercises, you should take a moment to understand the shoulder muscles.

There are three separate muscle heads, or deltoids, that make up your shoulders.

A balanced shoulder workout needs to include exercises that work all three of the deltoid heads - the front deltoid, the side deltoid and the rear deltoid.

Work out tips

Here are a few tips when it comes to working out your shoulders pain-free.


Stretching is important before you begin any of your heavier weight-lifting shoulder exercises.

Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and be careful not to stretch further than is comfortable, but make sure not to bounce.

My recommendation is to stretch at least 1 hour before lifting heavy weights.

Warm Up

Always warm up with some very light weights. If you are experiencing pain in your shoulders, it is advisable to use very light dumbbells. Do this before lifting maximally, as you need to get some blood flowing into the shoulder first.

Weight-Lifting Shoulder Exercises

These shoulder exercises are good for building strength whilst controlling any pain that may occur.

Dumbbells are good to use for these exercises because they are easier on the shoulders, but you may also want to consider using machines as well.

Machines are a little safer and basically offer the same range of motion.

• Dumbbell Shoulder Presses

The dumbbell shoulder press primarily works the front deltoid.

Place a dumbbell in each hand and pull them up to your shoulders.

Face your palms forward and rest the dumbbells against your shoulders.

Press each dumbbell upward slowly until each arm is near the point of complete extension, and then lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders and repeat.

• Dumbbell Side Laterals

This exercise works your medial deltoids.

You will need light dumbbells for this shoulder exercise.

Either standing or sitting, place a dumbbell in each hand, bend slightly at your knees, and without raising your shoulders, raise the dumbbells out to the side and up in an arc until the weights are level with your shoulders.

Slowly lower the dumbbells to your side and then repeat.

• Dumbbell Bent-Over Laterals

This exercise works the rear deltoids. I

t is almost the same exercise as the side laterals only it is performed from a bent-over position.

You will probably use the same weights for this shoulder exercise as you will for the side laterals.

Bend from the waist (but being sure not to round your back), so your upper body is parallel with the floor, and perform the shoulder exercise.

With the dumbbells out to the side, raise your arms out and up until they are in line with your back. Slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat.

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