Everyone wants to look fitter during the summer months as we shed layers, but if you haven’t gotten your abs in six-pack shape or been sculpting your bikini butt since January, there’s still time to get sexy summer arms. Sculpting strong, defined shoulders that look great in sleeveless shirts, strapless dresses, bathing suits, and pretty much anything, doesn’t mean you have to spend endless hours in the gym each week. For tips on how to sculpt your shoulders we talked to Phoenix-based certified personal trainer David Jacks for his expert tips. “To create more defined shoulders you should work each part of the shoulder, the front or anterior, the middle, and rear or posterior, equally,” he says. The shoulders can take and often need lots of volume in order to develop. This means that you should train them twice a week and if your schedule allows, three times a week, he suggests. Here is Jacks’ ultimate summer shoulder workout:
If you’re going to do shoulder exercises twice a week, workout A will be your heavy day and workout B will be your light day. Heavy means you will lift heavier weights during sets and do less reps. This varying of intensity allows the muscles to recover and respond or grow better than if you consistently lifted heavy. On your heavy day do three sets of 10-12 reps with 60 – 90 seconds rest. It should be very hard for you to accomplish 12 reps on your third set.
1. Dumbbell Press
From the seated position, start with the dumbbells on your knees and kick your leg up to help you lift the dumbbell to ear height. Begin with palms facing forward and dumbbells at ear height and arms at a 90-degree angle. Raise your arms straight up moving the dumbbells closer together, gently touching them is perfect. Perform this exercise in a 2x2x4 tempo, take two counts to lift the weight up, squeeze or hold for two counts then lower to a four count. You can do this standing if you prefer but seated helps protect the lower back.
2. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Start with your arms by your sides and palms facing your body. Rotate your arms slightly externally and bend arms slightly. Raise your arms until they are parallel with the floor or your hands are the same height as your shoulders. For this lift, use a 2x2x2 tempo.
3. Face Pull
While there are several variations of this exercise, this version is good for improving the shoulders’ functions and aesthetics. Start in either a standing or kneeling position facing the pulley machine at your gym. Attach the ropes to the cable and adjust the height of the cable so that when you’re holding the ropes, your arms are at a 45-degree angle. Hold the ropes with your thumbs down and hands close together (you will have to internally rotate or twist your arms to do this). Pull on a 45-degree angle, sending the ropes’ anchor directly toward the bridge of your nose. As you’re pulling, you want to focus on two aspects, the first is that you retract your shoulder blades and the second is that you externally rotate. You will finish the pull in what looks like a double bicep pose, only you should try to get your fists behind your ears by using the back of your shoulders. If you are feeling this exercise in your biceps, you’re using your biceps too much, lower the weight and focus on pulling with your scapula and rear delts. (Check out this YouTube video example.)
This second workout is going to be done with lighter weights, with higher reps and shorter rests. Start with three sets of 15 reps with rests of 30 to 45 seconds between sets. If you need more rest, the weight is too heavy. You should be able to achieve the prescribed number of reps on each set.
4. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Follow instructions as you did in workout A, but this time, use a lighter weight and slow down the tempo so it’s a four count on the way up, hold for two counts, and then a four count on the way down.
5. Lateral Raise
Perform this exercise at the cable machine. Have the cables set up so the handles are by your sides and use the same 4x2x4 tempo you did in the previous exercise.
6. Bent Over Lateral Raise
This movement can be performed standing and hinging at the hip, or on the edge of a seat leaning forward so your shoulders are over your knees. In the seated version, start with your hands behind your lower legs and perform a lateral raise as you did in the basic version of the exercise. Use the same 4x2x4 tempo.
For cardio-blasting workouts that really carve the shoulders, try battle ropes and punching exercises like kickboxing or boxing workouts for a third shoulder-sculpting workout if you want to take your fitness up a notch.