The main muscles around your shoulder blade and shoulder joint are the trapezius, deltoids and rhomboids. Each of these muscles work independently to perform a different function, yet they also work together to provide movement and stability around your shoulders. When designing a workout plan, it's vital you get a balance of exercises for each muscle group and train to build strength, control and endurance.
Your traps work to lift and retract your shoulder blades. A basic trapezius exercise is the shrug, performed with a barbell or dumbbells. Hold the weight with your hands in front of your thighs and lift your shoulders up toward your ears. Pause for two seconds, then lower your shoulders again. The traps also work to retract your shoulder blades, so to keep your shoulders healthy, you need scapula retraction exercises. Corrective exercise specialist Mike Robertson recommends adding rack pulls with scapula retraction, lower trap raises and resistance band retractions to your routine to train the scapula retraction function of your traps.
The primary role of your deltoids is to push your arms overhead, as if you were trying to reach the ceiling and overhead presses mimic this movement. Use a barbell, dumbbells or a resistance machine -- start with your hands in line with your shoulders and press up until your elbows and shoulders are completely straight. Your delts also work to raise your arms up to the side, so add in lateral raise movements, too.
The rhomboids work in conjunction with your lower and mid traps to pull your shoulder blades together. Rowing variations work both the rhomboids and the traps. If you're new to weight training, use a resistance machine such as the seated row or cable row. For a more advanced exercise, opt for single or double arm dumbbell rows or barbell bent over rows. Whichever variation you choose, keep your upper-back tight and squeeze your shoulder blades together on every repetition.
Work your traps, deltoids and rhomboids two to three times per week, either as part of a full-body session, or in an upper-body workout. Warm your body up before engaging in strength training with a five-minute jog and some gentle arm circles. Start your session with two compound exercises -- one overhead press movement and one rowing movement for three sets of eight to 12 repetitions each. After this, perform a supplementary exercise for each muscle group. For example, dumbbell shrugs or band retractions for your traps, lateral raises or bent over lateral raises for your deltoids and rows for your rhomboids. Complete two sets of 12 to 15 reps on each of these. If you need assistance with your technique, speak with a qualified trainer. Close your workout with stretching routines that target the back muscles. Gently pull your head to the side to stretch the trapezius muscles, then gently pull your arm across your body to stretch your rhomboids and delts.
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