Women tend to have complicated relationships with their shoulders. We want them to look good in revealing shirts, but most of us wouldn’t want to be overly jacked in that area. That’s why the best shoulder exercises for women are the ones that will define your shoulders, upper arms, and collar bone without making them appear too bulky.
If you want to focus on your range of motion and strengthen your back in one go, swimmers are the perfect exercise for you. Best of all, you’ll get to workout from the comfort of your floor.
To begin, you’ll want to lie face-down with your toes pointed and your arms extended above your head. Then, lift both your chest and your legs off the floor until you’re only lying on your stomach and hips. Finally, put your hands forward in a Superman pose, then slide them sideways through the air — like you’re swimming! Now do that for as many repetitions as you can handle at your current fitness level.
2. Shoulder Taps
Let’s do another floor exercise while you’re already there. Get into a plank position with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. While keeping your hips relatively immobile, transfer your weight to one arm and quickly tap your shoulder with the other. Then, repeat on the other side and keep it going for as long as you can.
3. Front Raise
Front raises are the best shoulder exercises for women who are new to fitness. You’ll start with the basic standing position, keeping your feet about shoulder-width apart. Then, grab a small weight for each hand and raise your arms without bending your elbows. You’ll go from having your arms fully extended above your head to slowly bringing them back down for as many reps as you can do.
4. Standing Row
A standing rowing exercise starts with the same position we have mentioned above. What’s more, you can keep the weights and the starting arm position, with your palms facing your body in front of you. But instead of raising your arms straight up, lift from your elbows, bringing the weights up to your armpits. Then, slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
5. Lateral (Side) Raise
Side raises are just like front raises, except you’ll bring your arms out sideways. Remember to keep your shoulders square and move slowly! You want to engage the muscles of your arms and shoulders, not just your core, which is what you’d use in a swinging motion.
This exercise also has a variation that engages your back and chest muscles — the bent-over fly. Bend forward at the hips, bringing your torso almost horizontal with the ground, and bend your knees slightly. Start with your weights directly under you, and swing them out until they’re in line with the shoulders.
6. Arm Circles
While your arms are already lifted during lateral raises, start making tight circles in the air. Expand or narrow the circle until it feels challenging but not painful. You can do this exercise with or without weights — or even use water bottles in place of weights!
7. Banded Pull-Aparts
Some of the best shoulder exercises for women are performed without any weights at all. For this one, you’ll just need a resistance band. Standing with your arms outstretched in front of you, pull the band until your fists are wider than your shoulders. That’ll strengthen your core and define your shoulders!