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Bikini Body Series: Shoulders

Aside from looking great and helping to create the illusion of an hourglass shape, shoulders are involved in just about everything you do; strengthening them will definitely yield noticeable functional results in your everyday living. Your shoulder muscles are relatively small in comparison to larger muscle groups like those found in your legs.  Keep this in mind when first deciding how much weight to use. It is unlikely that you will be able to lift as much weight as you can for chest or back exercises.

Let’s start with the basics. Your shoulder is made up of three distinct parts:

1)    Anterior (front) deltoid
2)    Lateral (side) deltoid
3)    Posterior (rear) deltoid

Although the deltoid is one single muscle, it is possible to target its specific areas with different exercises. The front deltoid is responsible for flexing and rotating the arm inward. The side deltoid’s function is to move the arm away from the body and the rear deltoid extends the arm and rotates the arm outward.

Many people are unsure of how often shoulders should be trained. I personally believe that, like all muscles in your body, you can perform shoulder exercises two to three times per week. If you’re lifting heavy (enough that you can only complete 6-8 repetitions), you’ll need at least two days of rest before you perform shoulder exercises again. If your goal is endurance and strength, stick with 2-4 sets of 12-16 repetitions and at least one day of rest before training shoulders again. Remember that you will also use your shoulders when performing chest and back exercises, meaning that chest and back exercises are a great warm up for your shoulders but should also be factored in when deciding on your training split for the week.

Now here’s the big question on your mind: what exercises should I do?
Most shoulder exercises are considered pushing movements, which means that they generally involve pressing a weight over or away from your body as you would in an overhead press or a lateral raise. Other great exercises are front raises and upright rows.  Below is a quick workout that you can follow to blast your shoulders and prepare for bikini season!


What You’ll Need:
Stability ball
5-20 lbs. dumbbells (your choice)
Resistance bands
Body bar 8-20 lbs. (your choice)
Incline/flat bench


Warm Up
The starting position for a chest fly on a stability ball is similar to that for the chest press, but your arms will be lowered to your sides instead of straight down. Maximize your results by doing this exercise slowly and steadily.

Chest press dumbbell fly on stability ball
3 sets x 12-15 reps

1) Assume starting position, as shown, with palms facing each other. Upper back and neck should be resting on the ball.
2) Slowly lower dumbbells out to sides until you feel a stretch in your chest.
3) Return to start position.

Perform all four exercises one after another without rest, resting for 60 seconds between rounds before repeating sequence. Aim to complete five rounds.

Shoulder Dumbbell Press on Stability Ball
3-4 sets of 12 to 15 reps (moderate- heavy weight)

1) Sit on a Swiss ball with your feet flat on the floor. Grab light dumbbells and hold them in front of your chest, hands spaced slightly more than shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows 90 degrees with your elbows shoulder height and pointing to the left and right side of the room. Palms face forward.

2) Slowly press dumbbells overhead until your arms are parallel, pause, then lower weights to starting position.
3) Return to start position and repeat.

Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise
3-4 sets of 12 to 15 reps (moderate – heavy weight)



1) Grasp dumbbells in front of thighs with elbows slightly bent. Bend slightly at hips with knees gently bent.
2) Raise upper arms to sides until elbows are shoulder height. Maintain elbows’ height above or equal to wrists.  Keep elbows pointed high while maintaining slight bend through elbows (10° to 30° angle) throughout movement. At top of movement, elbows (not necessarily dumbbells) should be directly lateral to shoulders since elbows are slightly bent forward.
3) Return to start position and repeat.

Standing Front Barbell Lateral Raise
3-4 sets of 12 to 15 reps (light- moderate weight)

1) To begin, stand straight with barbell in hands.  Grip the bar with palms facing down, slightly less than shoulder width apart.  Feet should be shoulder width apart, your elbows slightly bent.

2) Lift barbell up until it is directly overhead. Make sure to keep your elbows slightly bent when performing each repetition. Once you feel the contraction, begin to lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
3) Return to start position and repeat.

Variations: This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells in each hand OR you use a closer or wider grip on the barbell. By alternating the widths of your grip, you will be able to contract different parts of the shoulders for better overall symmetry!

Single arm alternating dumbbell lateral raise with pushup
3-4 sets of 12-15 reps (light- moderate weight).

1) Put your hands on the floor while firmly grasping the dumbbell. Extend your legs behind you with your feet shoulder width apart, just as you would if performing a push up.
2) Lower body toward floor. Continue until chest and hip are almost touching floor. Keep head in alignment with torso and hip.
3) As you raise your body upward, lift right arm to the side, feel the shoulder muscles contract, then lower back down. Alternate with left arm.
Once both arms have completed a side lateral raise, repeat by doing a push up then raising right arm followed by left and then lowering back down into another push up.

Working your shoulders is fun and is a definite must if you want a strong, shapely, and symmetrical physique. So, ladies, give these exercises a try and, when combined with a well-balanced diet, cardio, and weight training program, your shoulders will be looking strong and sexy in no time!

Until next time…

Happy Training!


Gigi Amurao, IFBB PRO Bikini Athlete, Team Bombshell Coach

Twitter:  @GigiA_ifbbpro
Instagram:  @gigiamurao

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