Top Two Shoulder Toning Exercises

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Close up of groom kissing brides shoulder via Shutterstock

Groom kissing bride’s shoulder via Shutterstock

That strapless Vera Wang means only one thing—your shoulders now shoulder the burden of being drop-dead gorgeous.

We tapped Susan Hart, Tier 4 Trainer at Equinox at Franklin Street, on the shoulder and asked her what exercises bring the best results. Here’s her dynamic duo.

Exercise 1: Plank to Push-up

  1. Start in a standard plank position: elbows directly under shoulders with forearms resting on the floor, feet out and your body straight off the floor.
  2. Starting with your right arm, place your right hand where your elbow just was and press yourself up to the top of a high push-up position.
  3. Pick up your right hand again and bring yourself back down to your plank.
  4. Repeat for 10 repetitions leading with your right arm, then 10 repetitions leading with your left arm.

Note: Keep your hips as still as possible during the entire exercise by locking in your abdominals and squeezing your glute (butt) muscles. For a tougher modification, complete on an incline (bench top or staircase).

Exercise 2: Side Plank with a Rear Delt Raise

  1. Start in a side plank position: rest on your right forearm with your elbow directly under your shoulder, ankles stacked on top of each other, hips are lifted up off the floor, and body straight.
  2. In your left hand, hold a five-to-10-pound dumbbell straight up in the air, so your shoulder, elbow, wrist, and the weight are all in one line.
  3. Slowly lower the weight until it’s a few inches off the floor, and focus on using the muscles in your shoulder (specifically right behind your shoulder) to raise the weight back up overhead.
  4. Repeat for 10 repetitions and then switch sides.

Note: Do not let hips start to drop. You’re using a lot of core in this one as well. Tighter abs, here you come.

These two exercises are Hart’s go-to toners because “your body weight alone will provide enough of a load to bring your arms and shoulders to failure,” she says—and by “failure,” she’s referring to the time when you feel like you couldn’t possibly do any more repetitions. If the exercises seem too easy, she suggests adding on extra repetitions or try resting a 10-pound plate on your back. “This is a total-body exercise with a strong focus on the shoulders, which means your heart rate will increase and increase your caloric expenditure,” Hart says. “The more muscles that work during an exercise, the more calories burned.”


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