Well-developed shoulders add upper-body width and create the illusion of a slimmer waist and tapered hips—what’s not to love? To help you rock more shapely shoulders, we asked IFBB figure pro Teresa Anthony to share her killer shoulders workout. Here it is:
What follows are in-depth explanations of how to properly execute each of the five exercises that make up this workout—from Anthony herself.
Works: Front traps, rhomboids
Teresa: To keep the focus on your delts, make sure your hands are placed shoulder-width apart. A narrower grip will engage more traps.
• Stand erect with your chest out and shoulders back, grasping an EZ bar in front of your thighs using an overhand, shoulder-width grip.
• Pull the bar toward your chin, keeping it close to your body by pulling your elbows up and out to your sides.
• Raise the bar to about upper-chest level, pause briefly, then slowly lower back to start position.
Tip: Don’t just pull with your hands; raise the bar toward your chin by leading with your elbows.
Works: Rear delt
Anthony: The rear delts are a small muscle group. For that reason, avoid using too much weight or you’ll end up calling on other larger muscles to help perform the lift.
• Lean over at the waist 45° so your arms hang perpendicular to the floor, and grasp a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in.
• Keeping your arms straight, raise the dumbbells up and out to your sides in an arc until they’re parallel to the floor.
• Pause momentarily, then lower back to the start.
Tip: Keep your shoulders and elbows aligned throughout the movement.
Works: Side delts, core stability
Anthony: With this move, you’re changing the angle to maximize rear-delt recruitment. Your shoulders will feel fried, but they won’t be the only muscles pushed to the max. Adding a balance element, you’ll also give your core muscles a killer workout.
• Place one hand on the bench and walk your feet out, spacing them slightly farther apart than shoulder-width.
• Drop your hips so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
• Grasp a dumbbell in one hand on the ground by your side, palm facing in (A).
• Keeping your entire body rigid, raise your arm up and out to your side by contracting your delt muscle.
• Continue this movement until your arm is parallel to the floor and aligned with your shoulder.
• Hold for a moment before slowly lowering to the start.
• Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Tip: Avoid dropping your working shoulder—keep both shoulders parallel to the floor.
Works: Front and side delts
Anthony: This move gives your shoulders more width and roundness, and helps create that V-shaped appearance for the upper body. To ensure you’re hitting the middle delt maximally, maintain a slight bend in your elbows and keep your wrists aligned with your lower arm throughout the movement.
• Start holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with a neutral grip, palms facing each other.
• Bend your elbows slightly, holding this position throughout the exercise by keeping your elbows locked at that angle.
• Raise the dumbbells out to your sides in a wide arc to about shoulder level.
• Pause for a moment at the top, then return to the start position with a controlled motion and repeat.
Tip: Keep shoulders back and down during movement. If you’re rounding your back, reduce the weight.
Works: Front, side, and rear delts
Anthony: Overhead presses are great for adding size and quality muscle to your whole shoulder. To place greater stress on your front delts, also try this exercise with a neutral grip (palms facing your head) and elbows pointed forward.
• Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart, head straight, and your eyes focused forward.
• Grasp a dumbbell in each hand above shoulder level using a pronated (palms-forward) grip.
• Keeping your shoulders back, press one arm overhead in an arc.
• Pause for a moment at the top, then return to the start position and repeat with opposite arm.
Tip: Bend slightly at the knees, leaning into your working side as you press the weight overhead.
Works: Glutes, legs
Anthony says: You can easily boost the intensity of your cardio session by skipping one to two steps at a time. This mimics a step-up movement as you’d do with weights, and it will hit your glutes harder.
• Press through your right foot to rise up onto the step, bringing your left foot up behind and squeezing your glutes.
• Alternate feet, climbing one step at a time and doing a kickback with each step.
Tip: Don’t lean on the side rails or grasp them hard. Doing so will reduce the intensity of your workout. Instead, loosely rest your hands on the rails only when needed to maintain your balance.
BY SOMMER ROBERTSON-ABIAD