Every woman wants to achieve that perfect hourglass figure. A slender body with a small waist, wide hips, round shoulders, and large breasts has always been considered an epitome of femininity. The problem is that ladies often focus on the wrong areas while at the gym. They work their abs day in and day out, or try to spot reduce, ignoring what really matters.
Like it or not, you cannot spot reduce fat. Your waist won’t get smaller and your butt won’t get bigger just because you’re working those areas every day. The only way to shape these areas is to train your whole body. Shoulders are particularly important.
Wide shoulders will make your waist look smaller and create balanced proportions. Think about female athletes, such as fitness models and tennis players. Their bodies are lean yet strong and feminine. Most of them have one thing in common: wide, round shoulders.
Luckily, it’s never too late to shape your body and add size to your delts. All it takes is discipline and willpower. A well-planned shoulder workout for women can balance your physique, creating what is known as the “V taper.”
Shoulder Training Rules for an Effective Workout
Before getting started, there are a few rules you should keep in mind. That will ensure an effective workout and help you get the most out of your gym time.
First of all, it’s important to know that shoulder width and size depends largely on your genes. Even though you can’t change your bone structure, you can add slightly increase the size of your delts. Their width can be modified to a certain degree as well.
Secondly, make sure you’re training shoulders the right way. The deltoid muscle has three main parts: the front (anterior), the back (posterior), and the sides (middle). Your workout should hit all these parts through isolation exercises. This can also help correct sloping or imbalance shoulders.
Thirdly, the best shoulder workout for women should include both compound and isolation exercises. Always start with two or three compound movements, such as:
- Overhead press
- Military press
- Hang cleans
- Power cleans
- Hang clean and press
These movements engage multiple joints and muscles, providing a full body workout. The military press, for instance, targets your shoulders, triceps, biceps, upper back, and core muscles. What makes it so effective is that you have to stabilize the entire torso as you move the weight. Acceding to experts, this is the best exercises to build anterior deltoid strength.
Once you’re done with compound work, move on to isolation exercises. These movements directly target your shoulders, helping you give them the desired shape. Some examples include front cable raises, dumbbell front raises, reverse pec dec fly, Arnold presses, and more.
Perform two or three isolation exercises per session. Since the shoulders are vulnerable to injury, use small to medium weights. If you’re a newbie, start with five or 10-pound dumbbells and then gradually increase the load. Pay attention to your lifting form. Even the smallest mistake can lead to injuries.
As a rule of thumb, never train shoulders after chest day. Most chest exercises, such as the bench press, hit the delts to a certain extent. If you work your shoulders the next day, you’ll lack the strength needed for a great workout. Plus, your delts will be fatigued and more prone to injury. Work these muscles at least 48 hours after chest day.
Is Shoulder Training Really Necessary for Women?
Many women mistakenly believe that training chest and shoulders doesn’t really make sense. They focus on their abs, legs, or arms, and ignore other muscles altogether. This leads to an imbalanced physique and increases injury risk.
Wide shoulders have more than just an aesthetic role. They’re usually strong, which means they can make everyday activities easier. Throwing a ball, lifting heavy objects, and playing sports is a lot easier – and safer – for those with strong shoulders.
This physical trait makes your figure look more proportional by widening the appearance of your upper body. For instance, if you have a thick waist, it will look smaller as your shoulders get bigger.
Furthermore, having strong delts will boost your athletic performance and give you a competitive edge. It can also improve your posture and reduce your risk of injuries.
Shoulder training is just as important for women as it is for men. In fact, a good shoulder workout will be quite similar for both. The difference lies in the amount of weight used.
However, this doesn’t mean that women should stick to five-pound dumbbells. Sure, those will work for a beginner, but not for someone who has been training for weeks or months.
As you progress, add more weight to the barbell. Don’t be afraid of heavy lifting. Contrary to popular belief, strength training won’t turn you into a man. Your body doesn’t produce enough testosterone and other anabolic hormones to build “too much” muscle. If it was that easy, athletes wouldn’t exercise for years to pack on mass and gain strength.
Also, look beyond the gym machines. They do help, but free weights should come first on your list. When you use dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells, your body works hard to maintain its balance. Plus, your muscles are stimulated to a greater extent. Gym machines make everything a lot easier, which can stall your progress.
Start with free weights and save the gym machines for later when your muscles are fatigued. Perform four to five shoulder exercises per session every week. If your delts are poorly developed, train them twice a week. Otherwise, one weekly session is more than enough.
What Does a Shoulder Workout for Women Look Like?
As we have previously mentioned, a good shoulder workout for women should include four to five exercises. Two or three should be compound movements. Let’s see an example:
This multi-joint exercise engages your entire body. It works your delts, upper chest, abs, arms, and back muscles. When done right, it helps build overall strength, which translates to improved numbers on rows, chin-ups, bench press, and other movements.
The overhead press should be the first exercise in your shoulder workout. Compared to other movements, it requires greater strength and balance. If you do it later, you’ll be too fatigued to lift maximum weight and maintain proper form.
Depending on your preferences, you can do this exercise from a seated or standing position. The standing overhead press is more demanding and hence, more effective. This exercise will strengthen your core, shape your delts, and increase lockout power.
The power clean is one of the most effective yet overlooked shoulder exercises out there. This classic Olympic lift increases physical strength and power, leading to enhanced athletic performance. It not only builds up your delts but also strengthens your core, glutes, hamstrings, calves, chest, and back muscles.
With regular practice, this exercise will help you develop explosive power and speed. Due to its intense nature, it also boosts your metabolism and burns body fat. In the long run, it helps build grip strength and increases muscle density.
Dumbbell Front Raise
This isolation movement engages the anterior (frontal) shoulder muscles. It also targets the upper chest muscles, but to a lesser extent. You can use a barbell, a weight plate, or dumbbells — just make sure you don’t put too much weight on.
Perform the exercise with a slow, controlled motion. Don’t use momentum to lift the dumbbells because it can lead to injuries and affects your form. Start with a light weight to become accustomed to the motion.
As its name suggests, this movement works the lateral delts. It also engages your traps and builds upper body strength. You can perform lateral raises with just about any kind of weight, including dumbbells, cables, small weight plates, or kettlebells. The key is to use good lifting form.
Lateral raises will make your shoulders look wider and promote hypertrophy. They also increase your flexibility and range of motion, improve your overall balance, and correct muscle imbalances.
Again, pay attention to how much weight you’re lifting. The lateral raise is an isolation exercise, so it directly targets the delts. If you lift too heavy, you won’t be able to control your form, which may result in injuries.
For best results, finish your workout with one or two sets of push-ups. This will help you achieve muscle failure and shock your deltas into growth. You can also do push-ups as a warm-up or between sets.
Remember to keep your training program varied. Mix different exercises rather than doing the same things over and over again. Not even the best shoulder workout for women will be effective if you’re stuck in a routine.
For example, if you always start with the overhead barbell press, try the Arnold press or the overhead dumbbell press once every few weeks. Swap dumbbells or barbells or kettlebells, and vice versa. This will keep your body guessing and speed up your progress.