Fit Tip: How To Get Amazing Arms - Part 1

Posted On Oct 2, 2019 By Carolyn Gallagher

A fit woman holding dumbbells out to her sides.

"Naw, I have amazing shoulders!!"

People will complement a weightlifters arms almost all the time, no matter the size it is something people notice first. But in most cases what they are really pointing out is that person's shoulders. Think about it; unless someone is actively flexing, their bicep is typically somewhat hidden or not really standing out. But what you do always see is a beautiful, round shoulder. I for one have a strange obsession with them. I love training them, I love looking at them and best believe I love helping others build them!

Shoulders are the building block to a shapely arm, and like most workouts I do, my shoulder routine is very basic. I switch it up between dumbbells and cables, but I keep it simple and isolated. The key to success is form and the mind/muscle connection you build within your body. Going through the motions will only get you so far, but thinking about every rep, every muscle you're engaging; that is what leads to the true results.

When training shoulders there are a few key points to remember.

  1. There are three main shoulder muscles, the anterior, lateral and posterior deltoid. This is such an important fact to remember because the shoulder is not a huge body part to begin with, so when you spilt it up into 3 different muscle groups you really have to step back and realize how small those individual muscles are and how much weight they can accommodate. Be humble and start with extremely light weights.
  2. Because the deltoids are so small, form is increasingly important. Proper isolation of those muscles will result in huge results and quickly!
  3. No pain. No gain. I will always keep it real with you guys so when I say no pain no gain, I mean it. Now I am not talking bad pain (sharp or stabbing) but that pain of doing something right and honestly shoulders hurt! What makes shoulders very different from most muscle groups is the immediate pain. When isolated and trained properly shoulders, in my opinion, are the most painful muscles to train in the moment. Sure, legs will hurt you tomorrow, your back might be a little swore the next day, but shoulders are difficult IN the moment. It is a struggle to get through a full workout. Oh but the results, the gorgeous, I'm never wearing anything with a sleeve ever again results!!

Ok, so how?? How do you get these amazing delts? Here is my simple, effective full shoulder workout with a few tips to help you get those amazing arms you've been dreaming of.

  1. Warm up! Never train cold. And because shoulders are so delicate and so many other muscle groups depend on them we have to treat them with the utmost of care! Wall Angels are a favorite physical therapy move to get the shoulders moving, warm, and increase range of motion when there are issues.
    • The movement: Stand with your back and heels against a wall. Turn your hands so your palms are facing away from the wall (knuckles touching the wall if possible). Your goal is to get your hands from down at your hips to above your head without having the back of your hand leave the wall. This is a movement that is so easy for those who don't need it but can be extremely hard for those who need it or don’t stretch. My advice is to find where your arms start leaving the wall or where it begins to hurt then go about half an inch past it. Push yourself past comfortable but don't inflict pain. (3 sets of 10-15 reps)
  2. Shoulder Press: Starting with a smaller weight (5lbs to 8lbs) sit facing a mirror. Make sure to check your form here, your shoulders should be back and down – roll them into position then lift the weights up. Your arm (armpit to elbow) should be parallel to the ground with your elbow bent holding the dumbbell up about level with your head. Arms will look like an L out from your body. Now press the dumbbells above your head gently touching them at the top. To finish the movement, bring your arms down, ending with the dumbbells at ear level keeping your elbows at appropriately 90°. (3 sets of 10-12 reps)
  3. Front Raise: starting with a small weight (2lbs to 4lbs) sit facing a mirror on a chair or bench that you can sit with your legs pressed together. Starting with your arms at your sides raise the dumbbells straight in front of you until the bottom of the dumbbells are at eye level. Make sure to keep your arms nice and close to your body and come to a complete stop at the bottom to eliminate momentum. No swinging – we want smooth controlled movement. (3 sets of 10-15 reps)
  4. Lateral Raise: starting with a small weight (2lbs to 4lbs) sit facing a mirror on a chair or bench that you can sit with your legs together. Starting with your arms at your sides raise the dumbbells out to the sides away from your body so that your arms are parallel to the ground. Pay attention to your angles, if your arms go past parallel you begin engaging your traps and not isolating your shoulders. Again control the movement, not hitching, shrugging or swinging. Do your best to keep your feet on the floor – trust me you will try to help at the end. For some extra work - get the weight up smooth and fast – but controlled - and then slow the descent (count to 10) back to your side. It’s a killer! (3 sets of 10-12 reps)

This is a workout that you can do 2 to 3 times a week, but like all muscle groups make sure you leave 24 to 48 hours between workouts for proper recovery.

Always trust the process. Always crush it!

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Dumbbell Shoulder Workouts

A fit woman performing dumbbell shoulder workouts.