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Whether you’re rocking trendy cold-shoulder blouses, have your sights set on upcoming summer tank tops or simply want the strength to lift more, doing focused moves to sculpt sexy shoulders is key.
“Working your shoulders is essential to creating a V-shaped torso that will give you the appearance of having a smaller waist,” says Jennifer Cohen, celebrity trainer for Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and best-selling author of No Gym Required (Key Porter Books, 2009) and Strong Is the New Skinny (Harmony), 2014). “However, working out your shoulders will also help relieve pressure from your neck and back while helping with your overall posture. For instance, if you sit at a desk all day, chances are you’re hunched over in a chair, which is a killer for your back and neck. Working your shoulders helps reduce the pain that comes with this.”
Cohen has put together her four favorite moves, designed to tone your shoulders without bulking you up. If you want to kick things up a notch and make it more challenging, add more weights or read the pro trip included with each move below.
1. Single-Arm Lateral Raise. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a light dumbbell in your right hand down at your side. Your palm should be facing in toward your body, and your shoulders should be back and your chest raised. From here, raise your right arm out to your side in a straight line until it is parallel with the ground. Hold for a count and release back down to your side. Repeat for 15 reps on your right side, then work your left side.
- Pro Tip: You can add strap-on arm weights to your biceps for added resistance.
Pike to Push-Up (1)
Pike to Push-Up (2)
Pike to Push-Up (3)
2. Pike to Push-Up. Start with your body in a push-up position, with your fingers on each hand facing each other to form a diamond. From here, bend at the waist, pushing your hips up into a pike position and coming up onto your toes. Once you’re in pike position, bend your elbows to lower your head down toward your hands. Press back up. Do 15 reps.
- Pro Tip: Place your feet against a wall so your entire bodyweight is being used when doing these push-ups.
3. Upright Row Into V. Stand with your feet in a wide stance. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your body. From this position, pull your weights up to your chest so your arms form a V-like shape. Lower your weights back down and repeat for 20 reps. Keep your shoulders back, your chest raised and your abs engaged. This move works the front of the shoulders, particularly the anterior deltoids.
- Pro Tip: Want to engage your abs with this move? Try doing this while kneeling.
Arnold Press (1)
Arnold Press (2)
Arnold Press (3)
4. Arnold Press. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding two medium dumbbells. Bring the dumbbells in front of your face with your arms bent and your palms facing you. From here, bring both elbows out to the side while rotating your palms so they face outward. At this point, your arms should be at a 90-degree angle on the outside of your ears. Next, press both arms straight up above your head until your arms are straight but not locked out. Release your arms back to the first position and repeat for 12 to 15 more reps.
- Pro Tip: At the end of the move, you can do small pulses up and down (moving about an inch or two) in the center of your body to work your biceps.