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The Sexy Muscle

Go for the curves you want, not the ones you don't.

I think shoulders are the most beautiful part of a FIT body.

People don’t seem to talk about them much. Yet they are exposed way more than our abs which everyone seems to obsess about. The first thing I see in the weight room at the gym are shoulders. My eyes just go there.

The French Open tennis tourney just concluded. Most pro women don’t look like Martina Navratilova–in other words, buff. However, take a look at Samantha Stosur, the Australian pro. Now she’s got some sculpted shoulders! It’s so noticeable when you compare her to other players. (Also check out the curves on Lebron James now playing in the NBA Championship!)

Women and men who develop strong shoulders that are attached to lean arms look fit. You can’t see definition under flab!- sorry:(

There are 2 keys to great looking shoulders:

  1. Curves
    • You want to be able to draw with your finger around your deltoid muscle.
    • You want a little dip between your trapezius at the base of your neck and your deltoids.
    • You want to see your triceps muscles if you straighten your arm by your side and turn your wrist counter-clockwise (even if you can’t see them when arm is relaxed).
  2. Striation
    • Striations are the tiny grooves of muscle across a major muscle group.
    • Low body fat is essential in order to see these thin cable-like fibers. (They can look like plastic wrap pulled tight).
    • Striations can be seen during lifting exercises in the shoulder and chest areas of lean men and women.

The exercises I do are not complicated and can easily be adapted for any level, including beginners. I’ve noted my personal technique and you’ll see some themes as you read on. Men can also follow these recommendations but need to use heavier weights.

Remember to check with a professional trainer for specific instructions that best suit you. These are designed to be a part of an overall training program.

Bat Wings

Keep in mind:

  • Bend at the waist but keep your back straight.
  • You DON’T need to use a heavy weight on this one. That isn’t the focus.
  • Tense your arm muscles as you lift and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Hold in the “bat” position for 5-10 slow seconds.
  • Maintain the muscle tension and slowly go back to original position.
  • Don’t lift your neck or use momentum to lift the weights. (You’re a bat not a windshield wiper!)

The Iron Cross

Keep in mind:

  • Start with hands at your sides and extend out to your sides.
  • Keep your wrists straight and arms level.
  • Tense the arms, the shoulders, BUT NOT the neck.
  • Men especially tend to use too heavy of weights when they do these and work their backs instead of their arms.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds and control the descent slowly. Effort should feel hardest going down slowly after the hold.
  • The easiest part should be the lifting up.

Wall Seated Double Arm Raise

Keep in mind:
  • Sit (or stand) with your back against the wall (no chair).
  • Use light weights and maintain tension while holding 5-10 seconds directly in front.
  • More advanced, combine Bat Wings, Iron Cross, and Double Arm Raise in one continuous movement.

Swimmers Pull Down

I learned this exercise from my first triathlon coach and have been doing it ever since. It isn’t just for swimmers.

Keep in mind:

  • Keep your hands close to the pull cord and arms straight.
  • Pull straight down and when you reach your thighs, lean slightly forward and allow your knees to bend slightly.
  • I use only 20-25 pounds of weight and do larger sets. You should feel a burn by the end of the set.
  • It is ok on this one to use a heavier weight and smaller sets if you prefer.
  • Great exercise for strengthening your “pull” in your swim stroke.

Bicep Curl with Overhead Press

Keep in mind:

  • This is a fluid movement exercise. Rest point is when the weights are over head. This is ONE exercise, not three.
  • Use a light to medium weight but hold the tension in your shoulders and arms the entire rep. (Beginners can even do this with no weights).
  • The 2nd photo is not a rest point but should feel difficult because you are NOT releasing the tension from the bicep curl.
  • Reverse the order to go back down while maintaining good form and muscle tension.

Graduated Plank Push-Ups

 

Keep in mind:

  • This exercise is all about the hold.
  • Elevate your feet to a height as close to your extended arm length as you can.
  • Hold the plank with or without weights. You are already working your shoulders if you do nothing else.
  • As you get stronger, begin to bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel with the floor and hold. Push back up to straight arms.
  • More advanced, do a deeper push up holding with your nose near the ground. Hold in all 3 graduated positions.
  • Very advanced, move your hands back closer to your feet so that your shoulders are forward. (You’ll see male gymnasts demonstrating this perfectly in their floor routines in the Olympics this summer).

Wall Stands

Keep in mind:

  • Walk your feet up the wall and stand on your hands. Stay strong in your core and back. Hold.
  • Very advanced, lean your shoulders forward with hands slightly back.

In conclusion, strong shoulders are not only sexy but functional. Helpful if you’re pushing a stroller, lifting heavy items at work, or playing beach volleyball with your friends.

The fast track to strong shoulders is a lap lane at the pool. Check out the Olympic swimmers in London this summer if you have any doubt.

Start where you’re at. Challenge yourself. Advance as you get stronger. You’ll look even better in those tank tops and muscle shirts!

"Some say that life has defining moments. We are defined by the decisions we make, the work ethic we employ, and the discipline we display in the years before the moment happens." Running Times magazine Jan/Feb 2011

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Okay, you’ve inspired me. Great arms! :)

    July 6, 2012
    • fitskitz

      Thanks, Lexie! You inspire me too:). Just a little consistency, getting comfortable with repetition, and before you know it, out comes the good kind of bulges!

      July 7, 2012
  2. You’ve made some really good points there. I looked on the net for
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    May 19, 2014
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    May 26, 2014

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