Fitness

Shoulder Workouts for Women

I have heard it time and time again, “I don’t want to get big or bulky”. I too have said these very words before I really dived into the fitness industry.

We, as women, have it in our heads that if we train our upper body that we will look like a man.

In reality, female bodybuilders actually have to specifically eat and train for those “gains” for years at a time.

Women, in general, have less muscle mass than men and would have to work twice as hard to achieve the same bulking results as males. 

Well-rounded and nicely built shoulders can be the perfect accessory to your little black dress. They can give the illusion of a smaller waist and can provide a list of health benefits.

Here we will dive into the benefits of training your shoulders, as well as the best shoulder exercises for women!

Benefits of Shoulder Workouts For Women

A woman doing a shoulder workout with dumbbells

The joint in your shoulders is one of the largest and most complex in the body. Your shoulders are comprised of a major muscle known as the deltoid. It’s split into 3 parts known as the lateral, posterior and anterior delt.

The anterior deltoid is the front part of the shoulder. This is the part of the shoulder we tend to work out the most. The lateral deltoid is located in the middle or side of the shoulder and the posterior deltoid is located in the back of the shoulder. Making sure you train all three muscles is important for creating balance in shoulder movement and avoiding injury.

Having strong and defined shoulders can help correct posture, reduce shoulder and back pain, and build balance and stability throughout the body.

Women often face shoulder pain or injury from being on a phone or tablet often, carrying a purse, and wearing a bra. Building strong shoulders can help alleviate some of this pain and help prevent injury.

Shoulder Workouts For Women  

Now that we have covered why training your shoulder is important, let’s dive into the fun part, the workouts!

Workout #1

Here is a great shoulder workout for women that will should you different variations of the overhead press and lateral raise.

Complete 3 – 4 sets of 12 – 15 reps of each superset.  Resting 45 – 60 seconds in between sets.

Superset 1:

Overhead Press- While seated, start with the weight straight over your elbows and then press the weight overhead until elbows are almost locked out. Bring the weight back down about chin height then repeat.

Lateral Raise- Standing tall, keep core tight and palms facing toward your body. Lift the weight to the side with soft shoulders until reaching shoulder heights.

Superset 2:  

Smith Machine Overhead Press- Come under the bar pressing the bar overhead until elbows are almost locked out. Then bring your elbows down almost locking out until you reach your shoulder height.

Leaning Lateral Raise- Hold onto something about waist height and lean out to about 45 degrees. Then perform a lateral raise until your arm comes to a 90-degree angle with your body.

Superset 3:

Overhead Press Alternating Arms- While seated, press the weight overhead alternating between sides.

Alternating Lateral Raise- Alternate between sides lifting your arm in line with your shoulder.

Superset 4:

Arnold Press- While seated, start with your palms facing toward your shoulders. Press the weight twisting hands and ending with your palms facing away from your face.

Incline Lateral Raise- Set your bench to a 90-degree incline. Lean against it with your arm facing your leg. Raise the weight until your arm makes a 90-degree angle with your body.

Workout #2

Here is another shoulder workout packed with some of my favorite shoulder exercises for women. This workout utilizes pyramid sets which start with high reps and lower weight, moving down in reps and up in weight for each exercise.

Here is the format for the workout:

15 reps with lightweight

12 reps moving up in weight

8 reps moving up in weight

Seated Lateral Raise- While seated, keep a soft elbow and raise the weight up inline with your shoulder.

Standing Dumbbell Overhead Press- While standing, start with the weight straight over your elbows and then press the weight overhead until elbows are almost locked out. Bring the weight back down about chin height then repeat.

Bent Over Reverse Flies- Start by bending over and maintaining a flat back, avoid arching it. Keep a soft elbow while bringing the weights up and in line with your shoulders.

Alternating Front Raises- Standing tall while a soft elbow, raise one weight forward until it’s in line with your shoulder. Then bring it down before raising the other side.

Arnold Press- While seated, start with your palms facing toward your shoulders. Press the weight twisting hands and ending with your palms facing away from your face.

Overhead Press Machine- While seated with a tall back, press the weight overhead until elbows are almost locked out. Bring the weight back down about chin height then repeat.

Home Shoulder Workout

Workout #3

One of the reasons I love training shoulders is because it’s so easy to do at home with minimal equipment and weights. When it comes to shoulders you have to put your ego aside and be okay with picking up a lighter weight. Start off with lighter weights and adjust as you need.

Here is a great video that breaks down the different lateral raise variations to help build and round out your shoulders.

Standing Lateral Raise- While standing, keep a soft elbow and raise the weight up inline with your shoulder.

Alternating Lateral Raise- Alternating between sides. You can go heavier on this one because one arm gets a break with each raise.

Isolated Medial Delt Raise- Thumbs are down and the top of the dumbbell comes up with each raise. Its name comes from the main muscle it is using.

Isolated Anterior Delt Raise- Thumbs are pointed up while palms are facing out.

Incline Lateral Raise- Set your bench to a 90-degree incline. Lean against it with your arm facing your leg. Raise the weight until your arm makes a 90-degree angle with your body. Go lighter with this move. You can even change your arm position with this move to make it tougher.

Leaning Lateral Raise – Hold onto something about waist height and lean out to about 45 degrees. Then perform a lateral raise until your arm comes to a 90-degree angle with your body. You can typically go heavier on this one.

Conclusion

As you probably already know, you can’t spot reduce body fat. However, you can work on toning up your shoulders to help you look more fit.

No matter what your fitness goal is, whether it is to get in shape for a sport, train to do pull-ups, do your first handstand or just build your overall strength, your shoulders will play a huge part in your success. Don’t neglect them!

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Faith Barbare

Faith Barbare

Writer and expert


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