Thursday 22 August 2019

Siobhan Byrne: Don't give delts the cold shoulder

Our fitness expert looks at this key muscle

Fitness expert Siobhan Byrne. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Fitness expert Siobhan Byrne. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Clean and press 1
Clean and press 2
Clean and press 3
Side lateral on BOSU 1
Side lateral on BOSU 2
Rear delts on Swiss ball 1
Rear delts on Swiss ball 2
Bottom up press with kettlebell 1
Bottom up press with kettlebell 2

This week we will focus on training the shoulders. One thing I notice with many gym-goers over the years is a lack of attention to these key muscles - the shoulders are often neglected, even by those who are relatively experienced at workouts.

It's fair to say we can all have weak body parts, but failing to give these areas an adequate workout will obviously do nothing to help improve them.

There are lots of areas that need to be targeted in order to tone up the shoulders, so I'll try to simplify the subject.

Generally speaking, the one area people tend to fall down is on rear delts, mostly because it's such a small muscle that they don't feel it will be of great benefit to train, and they may not have enough knowledge about all the different muscles and the mechanics of the body. Rear delts can be targeted with the back or shoulders, but my preference is always incorporating them with my shoulder workout.

Failing to train the rear delts can lead to a more collapsed looking shoulder, as it's the rear delt - combined with some solid back work - that will serve to give you the best posture, pulling the shoulders back.

One of my favourite exercises is the Rear Delt Row on Swiss Ball (see below), which is great for really targeting the rear delts, especially if you are not used to working them. Be careful to choose a light weight, as you may be surprised just how weak the muscle can be. Overloading it, just as with any muscle, will lead to incorrect form and also risk injury.

The beauty of well-balanced shoulders is they can help take emphasis off your waist or hips, ideal if you are a little bottom-heavy.

Attention to movement and detail is important with all exercises, but shoulders in particular are an area where I notice people can have incorrect technique - they are not using the exercise properly or are hitting other muscles which may be dominant and stronger.

Use the mirrors in your gym to make sure your technique is correct. Thinking about the exact muscle you are working on will also assist. I've featured some of my go-to shoulder exercises below to help you.

Breaking down your workouts: week 5 - shoulders

Clean and press

1/ Start with feet shoulder-width apart in a squat position and kettlebell between the legs on the floor, holding it with both hands.

2/ Lift the kettlebell up to the chest, coming up on the toes and keeping the elbows high.

3/ Then bring the kettlebell overhead and return to start position.

Bottom up press with kettlebell

1/ Start by standing upright holding a kettlebell upside down by the handle at shoulder height, with your elbow bent and your palm facing in.

2/ Then simply press the kettlebell overhead, extending your arm fully and keeping your back flat, looking up to the extended arm. Then return to start position and repeat.

Rear delts on Swiss ball

1/ Start by lying chest and torso down on a Swiss ball with your toes firmly on the ground, hip to shoulder-width apart.

2/ Pick up dumbbells and elevate your arms up and out to the sides, then return to start position. Keep your head in a neutral position throughout the exercise.

Side lateral on Bosu

One of the main reasons I like this exercise is that it stops the sway putting pressure on the lower back that you can get when standing.

1/ Start by kneeling on the bosu ball, balancing with your toes on the ground behind you, and with your arms down by your sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand.

2/ Raise the arms to shoulder-height, not allowing the dumbbells to go above the elbow at any stage. Return to start position.

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