5 of the best shoulder exercises you should be doing in the gym

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lawrence Crespo)

Nobody wants to be the weakest troop in their unit. Some people are naturally gifted with the ability to put on layers on muscle quickly, while others spend hours in the gym to grow a single fiber.


However, natural ability aside, many newbies who go to the gym don't know how to properly lift a weight or how many reps they should be doing in each set.

In general, certain muscle groups are easier to bulk up than others. One common problem area is the shoulders. Considered a weak joint, properly developing definition in the shoulder is best done by emphasizing form over heft.

There are a lot of advanced exercises in the workout vault, but beginners can get away with doing a few of these basic weighted movements to get those healthy-looking shoulders.

1. Seated overhead dumbbell press

The exercise allows you to use all three of your shoulder muscles at once. As an added bonus, this compound movement also works out your triceps. Sit down, grab some weights you're comfy with and settle into a position with the weights lifted to about your ears, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, push up.

Make sure that you don't lock your elbows out at the top of the rep. That's bad for your joints and we want to avoid injury. So, always keep a slight bend in your elbow. After the rep, don't use gravity to lower the weights. Instead, use your shoulder muscles to slowly lower the weight back to the original position.

Cool? Now go and do eight to twelve more, followed up by two to three more sets.

2. Plate press out

This one doesn't requires a barbell, just a weighted plate heavy enough to challenge you. All you need to do is grab onto a weighted plate, usually gripping around 9 and 3 o'clock, and hold it close to your chest. Then, extend your arms out parallel to the deck and slowly bring it back in.

Cool? Now go and do eight to twelve more and follow it up with two to three additional sets.

3. Lateral raises

For a lateral raise, you're not going to need a lot of weight, so don't use this movement to impress any girls or guys at the gym. Begin by sitting or standing up straight whiling holding a workable weight in each hand down by your sides (near your hips). Once you're ready to start the rep, raise your hands up and away from your body to each side until your arms are parallel and lower slowly.

You'll want to do two to three sets of eight to twelve.

Easy day!

4. Shoulder shrugs

You know when your first sergeant gives a lousy order and you shrug your shoulders out of silent, out-of-sight protest? It's the same thing, but this time you have a manageable weight in your hands.

Cool? Now go and do eight to twelve more of those f*ckers and follow it up with two to three more sets.

Moving on!

5. Rear delt flys

Now it's time to bend over and work the rear shoulder muscles, also known as your posterior deltoids. While using those same manageable weights, start in a static position, kick the weight back by rotating your thumbs downward like you're pouring Patron into a shot glass, then slowly return to the starting position.

Got it? Good. Now go and do eight to twelve more, followed up by another two-to-three sets.

Remember, control and form are everything while trying to build muscle.