Now’s the time to focus on sculpting a sexy upper body and banish the back fat. All you need are a few good exercises that target your shoulders in addition to creating a strong and sexy back. Remember, just because you can’t see what’s behind you, doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Check out the workout video above OR these highly effective and challenging exercises below to give you a to-die-for back and shoulders.
Unlike traditional shoulder presses, this version adds a little more of a challenge. Sit on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand, but with your palms facing in towards you. As you press the weights up, rotate your hands so they end up facing the other way. When you lower the weights back down, rotate them again so they are back at your shoulders and facing you.
Step 1: Stand with feet hip-width distance apart holding dumbbells at shoulder height with arms tight to the body and palms facing in.
Step 2: Rotate wrists out and extend your arms overhead.
Step 3: Pause at the top, and then lower the dumbbells to the original position by rotating palms towards your shoulders. That is one rep. Repeat for the allotted time.
Here’s a twist on the traditional front raise that will target your rear deltoids. Grab a body bar or another type of weighted bar with an underhand grip. Slowly raise the bar up to about shoulder height keeping your arms as straight as possible. Hold it a second before lowering your arm down.
Step 1: Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees, with your palms facing down on the tops of your thighs, grasping a dumbbell in each hand.
Step 2: Lift the dumbbells to the front with a slight bend in the elbow and your palms always facing down. Continue to go up until your arm is slightly above parallel to the floor.
Step 3: Now lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position. That is one rep. Continue for allotted time. If you have to swing your body to raise the dumbbells, then decrease the weight.
You have many options when it comes to upright rows. You can use dumbbells, a bar or the cable machine with a bar attachment on it. Hold the bar or weight down in front of your legs and then slowly bring your elbows up to shoulder height. Make sure to keep your hands close to your body. You don’t want the arms to go out and up, but rather straight up and down from the starting position.
Step 1: Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees, palms facing down on the tops of your thighs, grasping a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your knees slightly bent and your chest up.
Step 2: Pull your hands directly up until your elbows and forearms are virtually parallel to the ground while squeezing your shoulder blades together. The dumbbells should end at chest level. Pause at the top and lower the dumbbells to the starting position. That is one rep.
Before you go crazy, there are many ways to do pull-ups if you aren't able to do them — yet. You can use an assisted pull-up machine or place a heavy duty elastic band under your feet and anchored to the bar. The resistance from the band will provide a little extra help to pull yourself up to the bar. Another option is to do inverted rows where you lie underneath a bar (make sure it is sturdy), hold it with an overhand grip and then pull your chest up to the bar. Any of these work to build a strong, sleek back and will eliminate back fat over time.
This exercise will work your shoulders, your back and your core. Get into push up position while holding a weight in each hand. Alternate one arm rows while maintaining that perfect plank position. Be careful not to rotate your body as you perform the row. Keep your legs wide to prevent that from happening. Focus on squeezing your rear deltoid with every lift.
Step 1: Start in pushup plank position holding a dumbbell in each hand and place your legs wider than hip-width distance apart.
Step 2: With your core tight and glutes engaged, bend your left elbow and pull the weight up toward the side of your body. Try to graze your right side when you “row” the dumbbell up, keeping your elbow straight.
Step 3: Return the dumbbell to the ground.
Step 4: Repeat the row movement with your right arm. That’s one repetition.
Grab the overhead bar of a lateral pull-down machine with a wide grip, sit in the seat with your feet firmly planted on the floor and then pull the bar towards your chest while squeezing your shoulder blades together. You will want to hold it for a second before bringing the bar back up. Make sure you are not leaning too far back in the seat and you are focusing on using your back and not your biceps to bring the bar towards you. If you don’t have access to a machine, you can hold a resistance band above your head with tight resistance and bend your elbows as you lower the band to your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades.
Here’s another one that works your shoulders and your upper back at the same time. You can either sit or stand for these (sitting is more challenging). Hold a weight in each hand and bend your body at the hips with slightly bent knees and a straight back. The weights should be hanging down in front of you. Slowly raise your arms up and to the side as if you were making a “T” and until they are even with your shoulders. A slight bend in your elbow is okay, but you don’t want too much of one.
Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips and lean forward so your hips go behind your heels and the back is flat. Gaze in front of you at the floor and hold dumbbells in front of you with arms extended, palms facing in.
Step 2: Keeping your arms straight (without locking the elbows), lift your dumbbells to the side of your body. If you have to jerk your body to complete this movement, decrease your weight. Avoid putting the work in your lower back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together then release the weights back under the chest with control. That is one rep. Repeat for allotted time.
Many of these exercises work your shoulders and back at once making them a great routine for a shoulder and back workout. A good tip is to warm up on a rowing machine for a few minutes to get the blood flowing through those muscles. Make sure you use weights that are challenging. If you're able to do 12-15 reps, you should probably go a little heavier on your next set. You don’t want to linger with the same weight for too long. However, proper form takes precedence over everything, so don’t increase any of the weight until you're comfortable performing the exercise. Add these shoulder and back exercises to your routine, and before you know it, your upper body is going to be making quite a statement in those tank tops.