Whether you typically don a suit or a more casual T-shirt, strong shoulders are the key to a great-looking upper body. By addressing both strength and flexibility with these five exercises, you’ll be able to keep your shoulders in great shape. This can benefit everything from your basketball game to your ability to change a lightbulb. And yes, you’ll also look stellar in your clothes.
Begin standing with your feet almost touching and your hands at your sides. Bend at the hips, keeping your knees straight but not locked, until you can reach the floor with your hands. Use your hands to walk yourself forward until you are in a plank position with your palms on the floor directly below you shoulders. Perform one push-up, then walk your feet toward your hands while keeping your palms planted. When you get close to your hands, switch to walking with your hands to perform the next sequence.
2. Prone Ys
Most people do this move on a bench, but a stability ball or even the floor will also work. Lie down on your stomach and extend your arms above and slightly out to the side so they form a “Y” with your head in between. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then raise your arms up. Hold the position briefly, then carefully lower your arms back down. You can also perform the move one arm at a time, as Eric Cressey, C.S.C.S., demonstrates.
3. Feet elevated pike push-ups
Get into a standard push-up position, but raise your feet onto a bench or a step. Next, form your body into an upside-down “V” by bending your hips and pointing your butt towards the ceiling. The goal is to have your torso and upper body as vertical as possible. From here, carefully lower yourself until your head is just above the ground, then push straight back up. Men’s Fitness suggests four sets of 12 repetitions. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to start with fewer.
4. Neutral-grip sternum chin-ups
To perform this move, you need a set of parallel bars positioned relatively close to each other. You can find these at the gym and likely at a park. Grasp the bars with an overhand grip, and pull yourself up. As you reach the top, pull your shoulders together and lean back slightly. Keep pulling until your chest is just about even with the bars, then lower yourself back down.
5. Doorway stretch
All you need to get a good stretch for these shoulder muscles is a doorway. With your arms pointed downward, grip the edges of a doorway, then lean forward until you feel a gentle resistance. Hold it briefly, then release. The key is to keep the stretching gentle. The only thing worse than not working on flexibility at all is pushing it too far, so remember to only go as far as you can without discomfort.