5 Moves For Sculpted Shoulders

Well-sculpted shoulders can really create the look of a fit physique. Not only does a broad and shapely upper body make your waist look smaller, but your shoulders are also a metabolic power house—meaning the more muscle you build there, the more you rev your metabolism and burn calories, according to BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., owner of The Daily BJ.

The catch? Building well-rounded shoulders isn’t as simple as knocking out a few reps of the strict press. “Your shoulders are actually made up of three major parts—the anterior (front) head, the lateral (side) head, and the posterior (back) head—and you need to work them evenly to avoid injury and develop well-rounded strength,” Gaddour explains.

The anterior head is responsible for helping you lift your arms in front of your body, the lateral head assists in helping you hold your arms out to the side, and the posterior head is primarily responsible for pulling your shoulders back (like in a reverse fly), according to Gaddour.

“Symmetry among the three major parts of the shoulder is critical for posture, aesthetics, and performance,” he says. And because many of us do so many pushing exercises, the anterior (front) part of our shoulders are overdeveloped, while the other parts miss out. To even out your strength and take your physique to the next level, make sure your next shoulder day includes Gaddour’s five go-to moves.

Ready to hit the dumbbells?

(If your workouts have been very pushup and bench press-heavy, Gaddour recommends performing extra sets and reps of the moves that work the lateral and posterior parts of the muscle group.)

Move #1: Lateral Raise

Targets: lateral (side) head

Grab a pair of light dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulders-width apart with your hands at your sides and palms facing in toward your legs. Tense your core and squeeze your glutes. Keeping your arms straight, lift the dumbbells up and out to the side until your arms are parallel to the floor. (You’ll look like a giant ‘T.’) Pause, then slowly lower to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps.

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Move #2: Reverse Fly

Targets: posterior (rear) head

Grab a pair of light dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulders-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor. Your arms should be hanging straight towards the floor with your palms facing each other (this is important for zeroing in on the posterior head), and your elbows should be softly bent. Keeping your back flat and your torso locked into place, lift your arms straight out to the sides until they are in line with your body. (Your upper body will look a bit like an airplane.) Pause, then slowly lower to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps.

Move #3: Front Raise

Targets: anterior (front) head

Grab a pair of light to medium dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulders-width apart. Your arms should hang in front of your body with your palms facing your quads. Clench your core and tense your glutes to keep your back straight. Then lift your arms in front of you until they’re parallel to the floor. Pause, then slowly lower to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps.

Move #4: Dumbbell Arnold Press

Targets: all three heads

Grab a pair of moderately-heavy dumbbells and find a bench. Adjust the bench to a seated position so your back is supported and upright. With elbows bent, hold the dumbbells at shoulder height with your palms facing each other. Press overhead, rotating the dumbbells as you do so, so your palms face forward at the top of the move. Pause and then reverse to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps.

Move #5: SingleArm Overhead Carry

Targets: all three heads (plus your traps and core)

Grab a moderately-heavy dumbbell or kettlebell. Stand with your feet shoulders-width apart and the weight in your right hand. Tense your core and glutes to keep your torso from tilting to the side, and press the dumbbell overhead. Walk 10 to 20 yards and then lower the dumbbell to switch hands. Repeat on the left side. That’s one round.

Perform 3 to 5 rounds.

Related: The 5 Most Effective Abs Exercises