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1. shoulder press
The dumbbell shoulder press is one of the best exercises for building shoulder mass and strength. It uses multiple muscles at once, which allows you to lift a large amount of weight. It primarily targets the anterior delts as well as the triceps.
The dumbbell shoulder press can be done either seated or standing. The seated version is better for building shoulder mass as it isolates the shoulders and removes any support from the legs and lower back. The most common rep range for muscle growth is between eight and 12 reps.
A common mistake some people make during a dumbbell shoulder press is using weights that are too heavy. The shoulder is a mobile joint, so it’s not a good idea to try and do very heavy low reps. This is because the shoulder joint needs to work harder to stabilise the arm and there is a higher risk of injury.
How to do the shoulder press
- Pick a suitable weight for your required number of reps. Raise each weight up and let the dumbbells sit on the shoulders (or just above) with your palms facing forwards.
- Push the weight up above the head and touch the dumbbells together above the head. Then, lower the weight back down until the dumbbells sit back on the shoulder.
- Make sure you do full reps — all the way up and back down. The greater the range of motion, the more muscle fibres you will use, leading to greater muscle growth in the shoulders.
- Repeat the steps for your chosen number of reps and sets. Try to keep the weight the same throughout your workout.
2. front raise
The dumbbell front raise is an excellent exercise for building shoulder mass. It’s an isolation exercise that primarily targets the front head of the shoulder. With isolation exercises, you might need to use lighter weights as more load is placed on a specific part of the body.
As a lighter weight is used, a higher number of reps can be used — anything from 10 to 20 reps. One thing to avoid is swinging or momentum. Each rep must be controlled, and you must engage the shoulder muscles to do the work.
How to do the front raise
- Stand tall while holding a set of dumbbells against your thighs with your palms facing inwards.
- Raise one dumbbell in front of you at a time, so that the dumbbell comes just above your shoulder line. Your arm should be almost straight but the elbow soft, palms facing towards the floor. The opposite arm should be resting against your thigh.
- Hold at the top for a second and lower back down slowly. Then raise the opposite arm and repeat the sequence.
- Aim for 10 to 15 reps per arm.
3. side lateral raise
The dumbbell side lateral raise works the side of the shoulders, also known as the lateral head. This muscle is one that contributes most to appearance of shoulder size. The best way to develop this muscle is through shoulder abduction — moving the arm away from the body.
This exercise can work well with a medium to light weight for higher reps. It’s a challenging exercise to do with heavy weights, so focus on growing the muscles rather than maxing out on a heavy load.
This shoulder exercise can be done seated or standing. The benefit of doing it seated is that it reduces need for support from the lower back, meaning the shoulders are forced to work harder.
How to do the side lateral raise
- Grab a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a bench with your palms facing inwards, next to your thighs.
- Lift your arms up to the side so that your knuckles are in line with your shoulders and your weights are parallel with the floor. Hold this position at the top for a second and slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position.
- Try to focus work on your shoulder heads, as otherwise it’s easy for the trap muscles to take some of the strain.
- For the standing variation of the exercise, stand in the same position as you would for front raises but with your hands at your side.
- Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.
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