These 5 moves for more toned shoulders are some of my personal favorites for strengthening and defining my upper body.
These are great for just about anyone– they’re easy to modify by lessening or increasing the weight, depending on your level of comfort and ability. So as you get stronger, so can your intensity!
I suggest doing 3-4 sets for each, but if you’re a strength training newbie or just don’t have time, just start with one set of each exercise and work your way up from there.
1. Shoulder press, 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Stand with the feet approximately hip width apart. Bring your arms out to the side with the elbows bent to 90 degrees at shoulder height. The palms should face forward. Draw the ribs and belly in so your core is stable. (Note: I’m 7.5 months pregnant here, so this is tough to tell, but I’m doing it!)
As you exhale, press the knuckles straight up towards the sky. Don’t tap the dumbbells together at the top, just reach the arms straight overhead. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement and don’t let the head jut forward as you press up. If you feel super wobbly on the “press” portion, lower your weight.
2. Lateral raises, 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Start standing with the feet hip width apart and the arms down in front of you, palms facing the midline. Gently brace through your core so you feel supported but still able to breathe steadily.
Bring the arms out to the side with the palms facing down and a slight bend in the elbows. Don’t let the wrists fly way past the shoulders. They should stop at about shoulder height.
Tip: the more you bend the elbows, the easier this movement will be. You can bend them to 90 degrees when first starting out, especially if even very light weight feels too heavy.
3. Front raises, 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Start standing with the feet hip width apart and the arms down in front of you, palms facing your thighs. Gently brace through your core so you feel supported but still able to breathe steadily.
On an exhale (I always prefer to exhale on the “effort” part of a move), raise your wrists up towards the sky, stopping at shoulder height.
Tip: The descent should be just as slow and controlled as the raise!
4. Goalpost Press, 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Stand with the feet approximately hip width apart. Bring your arms out to the side with the elbows bent to 90 degrees at shoulder height. The palms should face forward. Draw the ribs and belly in so your core is stable.
As you exhale, press the forearms towards the midline without letting them touch. They should stop approximately when the elbows line up with the shoulders, but there’s no need to press in any further. Don’t let the elbows dip down! Maintain that stability in your shoulders through the movement!
5. Plank toe taps, 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Starting in a full plank, draw the belly & ribs in so the core is stable. Your shoulders are likely burning at this point, so even though we think of plank as a traditionally core centric move, it’s definitely going to hit you right in the shoulders today! Stay strong!
Keeping the upper body and core stable, alternate tapping each foot out to the side. This doesn’t have to be a high tap, you can just separate the feet to make it easier, or drop to the knees to make it even more accessible.
Over to you! How do you feel? Are your shoulders and arms shaking like leaves?! I know it’s tough, but in time you’ll build of the strength to where it doesn’t feel so impossible. Hope you enjoyed this one!