The Absolute Best Moves For Strong, Sexy Shoulders

Photographed By Ben Ritter

By Bari Lieberman for Refinery29

Hunching over your laptop, rounding over to see your phone… we probably don’t need to remind you, but the shoulders are a common hot spot of pain. (Here’s how to use a foam roller to release tension in the area.) One technique pros use for warding off future aches is strengthening exercises. And, to see what moves are best for targeting this area, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) paired up with exercise scientists at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

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What they found is that there isn’t a clear, one-move winner. That’s because the shoulder is a complex joint made up of three muscles (the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids). The winning exercises are the popular dumbbell shoulder press, the 45-degree incline row, and the seated rear lateral raise, which elicit the highest levels of muscle activation in each muscle, respectively. Of course, always consult with your doctor before implementing a training regime if you’re currently experiencing pain. 

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While the researchers only looked at male participants, everyone needs to target all three areas for balanced-looking, healthy-feeling shoulders. For more on the study, and to see a demo of the moves, check out this video from ACE. Now, everyone will be wanting your shoulders to lean on.

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