How To Get Sculpted Shoulders Using The Right Muscles – Workouts

Think Fit II  Form + Weight Training = Body Sculpting

 Just to recap my previous article that is a prelude to this guide on Form n Technique and using the right muscles in Weight Training, here are a few reminders. But please do read my previous article (even if you have already) to comprehend this one on using the right muscles better.

  • Each muscle needs to be focused on and targeted to sculpt it
  • Proper engagement of the right muscles required for each type of weight training exercise
  • I firmly believe that in order to stay fit and in shape, we have to understand fitness and not merely follow a trainers’s instructions blindly
  • Towards that, I would encourage readers to make out a chart for themselves from the information given here
  • If you have been relentlessly lifting weights for your upper body and yet there is a gap between the physique you want and your mirror image, then you better review the way you are doing weight training
  • Good posture is the body’s alignment with respect to gravity that we can never do away with. So posture is a given at every moment of our life, whether we are sitting, standing, moving or lying down
  • Resistance exercises or weight training when carried out in proper posture are more effective in toning the body and avoiding injuries
  • Most injuries in the gym are caused by improper posture and bad form

I had set out to detail form and technique tips for weight training for all the major muscle groups in one shot, but I can see it is going to be a really long post. So going to break it down to one muscle group per blog. Despite being into fitness for decades, I still find it hard to remember all that I read on fitness and store it appropriately. But if you are the smarter one, then you got to bear with me, for apportioning the post amongst the upper body muscles, one at a time.

Shoulders and Chest are two body parts that are of paramount importance in the way you carry yourself, both for men and women. The rest of the upper body muscles are largely dependent on how you bear these two. So we begin with shoulders.

Worked out, sculpted shoulders lend a certain dignity to your personality. Women, if you are addicted to sleeveless or off-shoulder outfits, pick up those weights and keep the following tips in mind when you work those muscles.

Shoulder workout’ is a layman’s way of saying ‘I am working my deltoids’. Since we are now progressing from being a layman to a better informed exerciser, deltoids it will be for most purposes.

  • Remember to keep your tummy tucked in at all times and stand with legs hip width apart , soft on knees.
  • Keep your shoulders down and relaxed at all times. Working out the muscles is quite different from tensing the muscles.

I am unable to provide videos for the workouts. If in doubt, take help from the trainers at the gym, but keep in mind these tips. The trainers may not have the time to supervise all your workouts and reps (repetitions).

Know the Deltoid (shoulder) Muscles

Deltoid Fibers, My Thought Lane

Deltoid Muscles , Courtesy build-muscle-101.com

Deltoids are divided into anterior (front), middle (lateral) and posterior (rear) fibers. Any shoulder workout should focus on engaging the shoulder muscles rather than loosely lifting the entire arm. Lift weights leading with your shoulders.

Primary exercises for Deltoids (the rest are variations):

Shoulder Press/ Military Press using Barbell /Dumbbell/Machine

Engage (lift) the anterior and mid deltoids.

Form : Stand with legs hip width apart, knees soft, or sit on a bench straight-backed. The best option is to sit on a seat that has an upright or an inclined back support. For dumbbells, hold them at ear level or a tad lower on both sides with your elbows pointing out. For barbell, grip the bar as shown in the figure below with palms wider than shoulder width.

dumbbell shoulder press standing, my thought lane

Shoulder/Military Press ( Standing ) , Courtesy : Picterest

shoulder press seated, My Thought Lane

Shoulder/Military Press ( Seated ), Courtesy : leanitup.com

shoulder/military press seated with barbell, my thought lane

Shoulder/Military Press with Barbell , Courtesy : Netfit

Shoulder Press Machine Seated. my thought lane

Shoulder Press Machine Seated Courtesy : bodybuilding-wizard.com

Technique : In all the versions, with palms facing forward, lift the weights slowly without locking your elbows and return to the starting position.

Lateral raise

Engage (lift) middle deltoids.

Form : Stand with legs hip width apart, knees soft, or sit on a bench straight-backed. Weights in your hands by your sides, palms facing each other. The pits of your elbows aligned at 45 degrees to your body.

Lateral Raise standing, my thought lane

Lateral Raise standing, Courtesy : popsugar.com

 

Lateral raise seated , my thought lane

Lateral raise seated Courtesy : bodybuilding-wizard.com

Technique : Lift weights sideways, palms facing the ground as you lift. Do not lock the elbows but keep them soft. Lift only as high as shoulder level and return to starting position.

Front Raise

Engage (lift) anterior deltoids.

Form : Stand with legs hip width apart, knees soft, or sit on a bench straight-backed. Arms in front of the thighs with dumbbells/barbell. Pits of the elbows facing each other.

Front Raise Standing, my thought lane

Front Raise Standing

Lateral and Front Raise Seated, My Thought Lane

Front Raise Seated , Courtesy Fitness Rx

Technique: Lift the weights in front of you, do not lock elbows and do not lift above shoulder level. Return to starting position.

Arnold Press

Engage (lift) anterior deltoids as you lift weights overhead. Engage middle deltoids when you twist your wrists to face outward.

Form : Stand with legs hip width apart, knees soft, or sit on a bench straight-backed. Hold dumbbells in front of you, elbows bent and palms facing your body and close to the body.

Arnold Press Standing, My Thought Lane

Arnold Press Standing, Courtesy : community.tribesports.com

Arnold Press seated, My Thought Lane

Arnold Press seated, Courtesy bodybuilding.com

Technique : Lift the weights overhead without locking the elbows. You are engaging the anterior deltoids now.

Twist your arms/wrists to face the palms outward at the peak of the lift. You are now engaging the mid deltoids. Hold for a few seconds, twist your arms/wrists to let the palms face your body and return to starting position.

Upright Row

Engage (lift) middle deltoids and upper trapezius .

Please read this carefully. Upright Row best done with a barbell. Caution – Avoid using close grip as that places more load on rotator cuff, which can be injurious. Using wide grip would be the best way.

Know your Trapezius Muscles

division of trapezius muscles, My Thought Lane

Division of Trapezius muscles

Form : Stand with legs hip width apart, knees soft. Palms facing the body as you grip the dumbbells/barbell.

Upright Row Dumbells , My Thought Lane

Upright Row Dumbbells, Courtesy : picterest.info

Upright Row Barbell , My Thought Lane

Upright Row Barbell Courtesy : leanitup.com

Technique : Slowly slide the barbell along the body i.e. close to the body, with elbows leading the movement, as they move upwards. And as the barbell is being raised, the focus shifts to middle deltoids. Return to starting position.

Shrugs :

Engage (lift) trapezius.

Form : Stand with legs hip width apart, knees soft. Dumbbells in both hands by your sides, palms facing each other. If you are using the barbell, follow the form as shown in the image below.

Dumbbell Shrug, My Thought Lane

Dumbbell Shrug Courtesy bodybuilding-wizard.com

Barbell Shrug , My Thought Lane

Barbell Shrug Courtesy myprotein.com

 

Technique : With dumbbells in both the hands, raise the shoulders aided by trapezius muscles towards the ears and ease them back gradually. Keep the raising and lowering controlled and gradual. Do not round the chest. The same applies to the barbell variation except that the palms face the body while gripping the barbell.

The Upright Row and Shrugs help in rectifying rounded shoulders/hunchback posture to a large extent if done properly.

There are many variations in the above exercises that advanced fitness can achieve. As you go along and get fitter, you will discover more ways of bringing variations in your workouts. But till then, it is best to follow these simple ones.

More muscle groups in my next few posts. If you like tips on any specific exercise/muscle, do post it in your comments and I will feature it.

Wishing Wellness and Fitness. Think Fit

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Are You Looking For Weight Training Basics To Get a Sculpted Body?

Form + Weight Training = Body Sculpting

Being a fitness enthusiast for God knows how many years, I get worked up when people do not employ proper form in their exercises. This article is an attempt to highlight technique. Each muscle needs to be focused on and targeted to sculpt it. I have divided this article in two parts. This one will focus on the nuances of FORM, starting with the right standing posture to weight training. Also included are :

  • Human Anatomy
  • Types of Muscle Contractions
  • Joint Movements
  • Muscle Groups
  • Basic Rules in Weight Training

The next one will detail the proper engagement of the right muscles for each type of weight training exercise. If they are combined, I doubt anyone will have the patience to absorb so much information. This is particularly useful for beginners, who may not be well-educated on the dos and don’ts of weight training. I have spoken to fitness professionals in detail to get the facts right.

Reading, absorbing and implementing what we all read on fitness are three different things. I firmly believe that in order to stay fit and in shape, we have to understand fitness and not merely follow a trainers’s instructions. Towards that, I would encourage readers that need this information, to make out a chart for themselves. Haven’t we heard that writing makes it perfect? So here, when you make your own chart, the chances of the information getting registered and recollected at a later time for implementation are much higher.

There is more to weight loss and body sculpting than merely lifting weights. There is FORM, which means employing the right technique and posture during weight training. If you have been relentlessly lifting weights for your upper body and yet there is a gap between the physique you want and your mirror image, then you better review the way you are doing weight training.

good Standing posture, mythoughtlane

Image courtesy : Pinterest

Before we go on to exercise specific muscle…….

Good posture is the body’s alignment with respect to gravity that we can never do away with. So posture is a given at every moment of our life, whether we are sitting, standing, moving or lying down. Our joints, ligaments and muscles are forever in conversation with gravity. Best not to interrupt them if you want to look good and feel good.

Try this posture test: When viewed from the side, an imaginary vertical line should pass through your earlobe, the tip of your shoulder, midway through your trunk, over the bony part of your thigh, and then through both your knee and ankle. If there is any deviation from this alignment, like if your ears are in front of your shoulders or your shoulders roll toward your chest, you are set for potential injury.

Did you know just sitting and standing in correct posture can burn a few calories? When you maintain proper posture, your muscles are being worked to maintain the alignment of the body, thereby adding to your calorie burn. Resistance exercises or weight training when carried out in proper posture are more effective in toning the body and avoiding injuries. Most injuries in the gym are caused by improper posture and bad form.

Ramona Braganza, the celebrity trainer has this to say – “Lift (weights) slower with control, connecting your mind to the move”. In fact, proper form and technique matters, in whatever you lift, at the gym, home or on your shopping sprees. Till you are sure of the form, do not increase the weight or the number of repetitions during your workouts. Breathe correctly, don’t hold your breath lifting weights. Exhale as you lift weights and inhale as you lower them.

Technique

A few things we should all know:

Learn Some Anatomy :

When you know the basic structure of bones and muscles in your body, you are able to connect each exercise move with the targeted muscles. You can then engage those muscles appropriately, thereby reaping better results.

Full body muscles human anatomy mythoughtlane

Image courtesy : Internet

Types of Muscle Contractions:

Isometric contraction

Image courtesy : Internet

Isometric contractions: when the muscle does not lengthen.

An example of this is, pushing against a wall.

Isotonic Contractions : when the muscle length changes. The shortening phase is called Concentric contraction while the lengthening is termed Eccentric contraction.

Concentric & Eccentric Contractions

Image courtesy : Internet

Joint Movements :  Muscle contractions and joint movements go in tandem. There are four important joint movements – flexion, extension, abduction and adduction (not addiction!!!!)

Flexion – when the angle at the joint is decreased, as in when you raise a dumbbell upwards.

Extension – when the angle at the joint increases, as you lower the dumbbell.

Flexion & Extension

Image : teachmeanatomy

Abduction – when you move a body part away from the middle of the body towards a side or above. Eg; when you raise leg outwards.

Adduction – when you bring the raised leg back again.

adduction-and-abduction

Image : teachmeanatomy

A peek into the muscle groups :

  1. Deltoids (shoulder) – anterior / mid / posterior
  2. Trapezius
  3. Pectorals (chest)
  4. Latissimus (back)
  5. Biceps
  6. Triceps

Rule #1: No muscle ever works in isolation. While one muscle is targeted for workout, corresponding surround muscles also get the benefit. For instance, shoulder muscles are put to work in every upper body exercise.

Rule #2: At any given point while weight training, the neck has to be neutral, not protruding, not pulled backwards. Chin to be tucked in.

Rule #3: The ideal ratio of lifting to lowering is 2:1:2:1 for beginners. Intermediate and advanced can use the 2:0:2:0.

Rule #4: Beginners should start with lighter weights till they get the form right. It is very likely for form to be compromised when beginners try to lift heavy weights.

Rule #5: Breathing is as important as proper form. Exhale when you exert (lift weights ) and inhale when you lower weights.

Rule #6: The rep math to keep in mind is to start with 10-12 repetitions per set.

My next post will contain instructions on engaging the right muscles for the targeted exercise of the upper body. Till then (which could be tomorrow), happy gymming. Season to eat and make merry of course, but if you have shopped for new clothes for Christmas and New Year’s Eve and want them to fit you well, you know what to do !!!!

Ciao!