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This 3-move workout can grow your shoulders, safely

Sometimes, bigger weights might not equal bigger results. That's how Men's Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., often approaches his shoulder workouts.

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play This 3-move workout can grow your shoulders, safely (Men's Health)
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Shoulder workout that focuses on productivity bang for weight buck. Training shoulders crazy heavy is fun and all but...this is a delicate joint, so getting muscle stimulation from less weight has value. 1) bottoms up single-arm kettlebell press, 3 sets of 8-10 reps per arm: do these kneeling too, as it will help balance your core. That bottoms up position forces you to utilize a TON of forearm and shoulder control to level the bell. 2) kneeling kettlebell halos, 2 to a side, 14-16 total reps, 3 sets. Underrated focus on this, breath down through your abs so you control your ribcage as much as possible. 3) incline bench pause lateral raises, 3 sets, 12 reps. Work to keep those dumbbells parallel to the ground at ALL times, especially at the top. That way, you#emo#4oCZ##re keeping your shoulders in slight external rotation, which will protect your rotator cuffs and labrums. Also, note that this isn#emo#4oCZ##t a pure lateral raise out to the sides; I#emo#4oCZ##m actually 20 or so degrees toward the front. Aim for a 2-second hold at the top; that#emo#4oCZ##ll insure you didn#emo#4oCZ##t momentum-swing the weight up, and it#emo#4oCZ##ll depress the amount of weight you can do period. #fitness #training #shoulders #hatebottomsup

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Broad, strong shoulders might be a common goal for guys - but if you want to look like your upper body is topped by boulders, you also have to remember to train safely.

Sometimes, bigger weights might not equal bigger results. That's how Men's Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., often approaches his shoulder workouts. "Training shoulders crazy heavy is fun and all," he says, "but this is a delicate joint, so getting muscle stimulation from less weight has value."

Rather than loading up a barbell with plates and pumping away at military presses, Samuel often switches up his implements and focuses on working his shoulders more carefully. With a torn labrum in his medical history, he can't afford to train the muscles without considering the mechanics of the movements.

Check out this efficient three-move series Samuel uses for his own training. "This is a shoulder workout that focuses on productivity bang for weight buck," he says.

To perform the workout, you'll need kettlebells, dumbbells, and an adjustable bench, so it's probably best to do in the gym. Remember, err toward lighter weights for every move, focusing on your form. If you're looking for a good set of kettlebells to take the moves home, check out this option from Onnit.

The Low Weight, High Reward Shoulder Series

Bottoms Up Single-arm Kettlebell Press

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps each arm

  • Kneel on the ground, holding a kettlebell by the handle with the weighted portion up.

  • Keeping your spine straight and your chest strong, press the kettlebell straight up, pausing briefly at the top of the movement.

  • Stay balanced by squeezing your core.

"Kneeling will help balance your core," says Samuel. "That bottoms up position forces you to utilize a ton of forearm and shoulder control to level the bell."

Kneeling Kettlebell Halos

3 sets of 14 to 16 total reps

  • Kneel on the ground, holding a kettlebell by the rounded portion with both hands at chest level.

  • Rotate your arms and shoulders to bring the weight from your chest around your head.

  • Squeeze your glutes and core to prevent your torso from rotating along with your arms and shoulders.

  • Perform two revolutions clockwise, then switch to counterclockwise.

"There's underrated focus on this," Samuel says. "Breathe down through your abs so you control your ribcage as much as possible."

Incline Bench Pause Lateral Raises

3 sets of 12 reps

  • Sit facing frontwards on an incline bench, resting your chest on the back rest.

  • Hold a pair of light dumbbells, with your hands parallel to each other.

  • Raise the weights simultaneously, keeping your arms straight and your elbows locked.

  • Pause for 2 seconds at the top of the movement, then control the weight back down.

"Work to keep those dumbbells parallel to the ground at all times, especially at the top," Samuel advises. "That way, you’re keeping your shoulders in slight external rotation, which will protect your rotator cuffs and labrums."

Samuel also notes that the movement isn't focused on extending your arms straight out; instead, you should aim to lift the weights slightly forward, at roughly a 20-degree angle. The pause is to make sure you stay in control - and keep you from going too heavy. "That’ll ensure you didn’t momentum-swing the weight up," Samuel says. "It’ll depress the amount of weight you can do, period."

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