5 moves to sculpt your arms and shoulders

5 easy moves to sculpt your arms & shoulders

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This week, I decided to dive into some great moves to sculpt our arms and shoulders. As we age, the muscles and skin in our arms and shoulders naturally loses definition and strength. These moves are great to strengthen those muscles, helping you stay strong for everyday activities and bringing some added definition to your arms and shoulders.

If you’re just starting out and would like to practice moves with me in class, you can join our virtual Adaptive Fitness & Strength Training every or our virtual Conditioning & Toning Bootcamp every Thursday!

Let’s dive in!

1. The Shoulder Press

The shoulder press is great for engaging your entire upper body!

The shoulder press is a common upper body fitness move – and for good reason! With this one move, we target our deltoids – the diamond-shaped muscle at the top of our shoulders, trapezius – the large muscle that sheaths the back of the neck and spreads out over the back, and we also use our Latissimus dorsi (or lats), which run down the side of our back and rib cage, and our pectoral muscles, or our chest muscles.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Stand feet hip-width apart, with soft knees and pelvis tucked under. Keep your core, glutes, and legs all engaged to create a neutral spine.

2. Taking your weights in each hand, bring your hands next to your shoulders, bending your arm at the elbow, with your palms facing forward.

3. Your choice here: press one at a time or both together, straight up and in above your head, slowly. The weights will meet at the top. Lower slowly.

2. Bicep Curls

Bicep curls will give you a nice toned “Popeye” muscle!

Sometimes known as the “Popeye” muscle from the beloved cartoon show, the bicep muscles have two heads and are found on the inner upper arm between your elbow and shoulder. This move will work both of those heads and will give you definition and create that nice muscular bulge that you see so often on bodybuilders when they flex their arms into a bicep curl.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Stand feet hip-width apart, with soft knees and pelvis tucked under. Keep your core, glutes, and legs all engaged to create a neutral spine.

2. Keep the top part of your arms, from your elbow to your shoulder, secure and pressed close into the sides of your torso – this part of your arm will not move. Holding your weights in your hands, palms facing upwards, slowly curl up your arm up from the elbow and slowly lower. Do not lock your arms at the bottom of the move.

3. Now rotate your arms out to the side at a 45-degree angle and curl up slowly, then lower slowly.

4. Repeat alternating the moves: 1 forward curl, 1 side curl.

3. Tricep Kickbacks

Tricep Kickbacks will tone your triceps on the back and side of your arms.

Triceps are the 3-headed muscles in the back of the upper arm. You know the one that can keep waving after you are done waving? Yup, that’s the one.

They are very easy to shape up and they look oh-so-good when kept in shape! This is an easy move to sculpt your triceps.

How to:

1. Stand feet hip-width apart, with soft knees slightly bent and pelvis tucked under. Keep your core, glutes, and legs all engaged to create a neutral spine.  

2. Lock your upper arms in close on either side of your torso – they will not move. These can be done with or without weights. If you choose not to use weights, keep those muscles contracted throughout the whole movement.

3. Start with your arms straight, but do not lock the elbow. Bring that hand (with or without a weight) forward until the lower arm forms a 90-degree angle with your upper arm. You can also bring it all the way to your shoulder to combine your Tricep Kickback with a Bicep Curl. Slowly straighten your arm again. 

4. Do one set with palms facing your body and another set with your palms facing back to target multiple tricep muscles.

5. For an added benefit, finish the move off with little pulses with the arm extended in straight position – pulsing to the back. Pulse 10 times, lower and repeat.

4. Deep Swimmers

Deep Swimmers are a two-in one to target 5 muscles!

I love this compound move because it works our arms and shoulders all in one! In this video, I combine it with a Plié Squat as well to get a total body sculpt. The Deep Swimmer combines a Shoulder Press with a Bicep Curl, targeting our deltoid, trapezius, lats, and pecs, as well as our biceps! Doing this move daily will get your arms and shoulders toned quickly.

How to (without Plié Squat):

1. Stand feet hip-width apart, with soft knees and pelvis tucked under. Keep your core, glutes, and legs all engaged to create a neutral spine.  

2.  Keep the top part of your arms, from your elbow to your shoulder, secure and pressed close into the sides of your torso – this part of your arm will not move for the first part of this move. Holding your weights in your hands, palms facing upwards, slowly curl up your arm up from the elbow until your hand reaches your shoulder.

3. When your hand reaches your shoulder, rotate your palms forward at shoulder level to find the starting position of the Shoulder Press.

4. Now slowly press both weights straight up and in above your head. Remember – do not lock the elbows!

5. Lower slowly back down the way you came, ending in your starting bicep position.

5. Front Elbow Raises

Front elbow raises help us workout some muscles that are less commonly used.

This is a wonderful move that targets your deltoids – that diamond-shaped muscle at the very top of your shoulder. This move will bring you definition to this muscle with regular practice.

1. Stand feet hip-width apart, with soft knees and pelvis tucked under. Keep your core, glutes, and legs all engaged to create a neutral spine. Bring your upper body slightly forward to protect your lower back. You should not use heavy weights for this move – start small and move up as needed.

2. Your arms will stay bent at a 45-degree angle throughout the whole movement. The move will be led with your elbows. To start, hold your weights in your hands, palms facing inwards in front of your body, with elbows bent at 45-degree angle.

3. Leading with your elbows, slowly raise your elbows upwards to the front of the room, with your palms facing down. Lift them high as is comfortable or until they reach shoulder-level. Slowly lower back down. You can lift both arms together or one at a time.

4. For added definition, you can lift your elbow to the side rather than to the front for a Side Elbow Raise.

Any questions??

Drop them in the comments below and let me know how you liked these moves!

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