Use dumbbells for exercises that will boost your shoulders and make you stand tall and proud. The deltoids are three-headed muscles that rest on the tops of your arms. Shoulders need to be trained in different directions and throughout complete ranges of motion for equal strength and optimum function. Dumbbells are a great tool to target each deltoid individually for equal strength, plus dumbbells allow for a large range of motion during exercises that target the three heads.
Target the front, anterior, head of the shoulder with front shoulder raises. Hold a dumbbell with your arms straight along your sides and your palms facing backward. Exhale, keep your elbows slightly bent and raise the weights just above parallel with the floor. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position. You also use the anterior delts during the shoulder press in which you begin with your elbows bent, hands at the fronts of your shoulders and palms facing forward. Press up the dumbbells until your arms have a slight bend remaining in the elbows, and then lower the weights to the starting position. The “Arnold” way to perform this press is to begin with your palms facing you and finish with your palms facing away.
Strengthen the middle, lateral, head of the shoulder with lateral raises. Hold a dumbbell with your arms straight at your sides and your palms facing in. Exhale, leave a slight bend in your elbows and raise your arms to the sides until arms are parallel with the floor. Inhale and return to the starting position. Another exercise that relies on the lateral delts is the upright row. Stand tall and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight along the front of you. Face your palms toward your legs. Exhale, bend your elbows and keep the weight close to you as you lift the weights to chest height. Elbows remain higher than your hands. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position.
To target the posterior deltoids, hold a dumbbell with your palms facing each other and stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees and bend forward slightly from the hips so your chest is facing the ground and your back is flat. Let your hands hang down underneath your shoulders and keep a bend in your elbows as if you are holding onto a barrel. Exhale and raise your elbows to the sides and to the height of your shoulders. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position. Or, perform a lying raise. Lie on your right side with your head supported by your right hand. Hold onto a dumbbell in your left hand with your arm straight out from your shoulder. The dumbbell is resting on the floor. Exhale and raise the weight until your arm is straight up. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position.
Choose one exercise for each deltoid head and aim to complete one to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions. Allow for at least one day of rest in between shoulder workouts. Add variation by alternating arms or completing the total number of repetitions on one shoulder before doing the same on the other shoulder.