If a strong up­per body is your goal – this is where to start

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS - K. ALEISHA FETTERS words MEI TAO pho­tog­ra­phy

While the lure of a sea­son sans sleeves might have most peo­ple fo­cused on work­ing their bi­ceps and tri­ceps, we’d like to turn your at­ten­tion else­where: your shoul­ders

We’re never ones to make bold sweep­ing as­ser­tions, but when we spot­ted that 25% of WH read­ers de­clared their shoul­ders to be the part of their bod­ies they love to show off most*, it seemed a safe bet to as­sume that sum­mer is when said shoul­ders get the most ac­tion. The thing is, most women will look to up their arm train­ing for a strong, sculpted up­per body, when in fact fo­cus­ing on your shoul­ders will give you the best bang for your buck, both phys­i­cally and aes­thet­i­cally. ‘Made up of four dis­tinct mus­cles – the an­te­rior del­toid, me­dial del­toid, pos­te­rior del­toid and trapez­ius – the shoul­ders are the most mo­bile do-it-all joints in your body,’ says ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist Dr Mike T Nel­son. And as one of the most mus­cu­lar and metabol­i­cally ac­tive ar­eas in your up­per body, they have the big­gest im­pact on your over­all ex­er­cise per­for­mance and meta­bolic rate. Which means that what­ever fit­ness goals you’re work­ing to­wards – whether that’s pulling off a pull-up PB, do­ing a hand­stand in yoga class or crush­ing your ten­nis serve – your chances of suc­cess rest squarely on, well, your shoul­ders. ‘Even some­thing like a deadlift, which you might not think of as an up­per-body ex­er­cise, re­quires strong shoul­ders,’ adds Dr Nel­son. ‘If you can’t sta­bilise the load as you come up, you’re go­ing to have some is­sues.’ With­out strong shoul­ders, you might not even be able to get the weight safely off the floor at all. A finely sculpted pair (snig­ger) will re­shape and de­fine your up­per half, im­prov­ing your pos­ture, chis­elling your arms (be­cause the moves in­her­ently re­cruit mus­cles such as the bi­ceps and tri­ceps) and mak­ing you look and feel uber-strong. So, not to be sniffed at.

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