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