This is an area of the body we tend to forget about, but it is one of the upper body’s strongest muscle groups.
There are numerous ways to work your shoulders, and as I mentioned last week in discussing multiple tricep movements, not every shoulder track in BodyPump is the same. Well, except for those push-ups 😀
The shoulder track, or Track No. 8 in a BodyPump class, is one of my favorites, because I usually call it the “peak of the class.” It’s the last track where you can work really hard before we bring it home with the core track, followed by some stretching. That being said, here are the exercises typically found in your shoulder track, and the different beneficiaries.
Rear-dealtoid raises and side raises. I do a lot of these in the weight room, and my shoulder super-set typically consists of either one of these exercises, some overhead extensions and push-ups. The rear-dealt raise is a tough exercise to execute properly, but if your technique is spot-on, you’ll really feel it in your deltoids and upper back. Basically, you want to tip forward from your hips, as if you’re doing a dead-row or deadlift, lead with your elbows and draw your plates up so your arms have a 90-degree angle. Remember to keep your upper body still and brace your abs! Side raises have almost the same effect, and you should really feel the pinch in your shoulders at the top of the move. Remember to keep those arms at a 90-degree angle, and keep the plates or dumbbells below the shoulders.
Overhead extensions: These are typically done at the end of the shoulder track when our muscles are fatigued, so go light on the barbell (warmup weight will suffice, sometimes a bit more if you’re an experienced pumper). This is a really simple move, you want to keep your body still and core braced to protect the low back, extend the bar up over your head and go no lower than your chin as you return to set position. A great finish to any shoulder track!
Upright rows: We don’t this move as much in the shoulder track as we do in the warmup track, but it’s a truly effective move. You want to hold the bar as if you’re doing a deadrow or deadlift, and with a light grip on it, lead with your elbows and draw the bar to mid-chest. A lot of participants don’t lead with the elbows, thus the work isn’t felt in the front of the shoulder blades. Also, try it in split-stance (one foot back) if you find yourself stumbling on the floor
Rotator raise/peck deck: Aside from push-ups, probably my favorite shoulder exercises. These are done with two plates or dumbbells, and with our feet in our strong set position, we bring the plates up as if we’re doing a side raise, extend them up at the top of the move, return to side-raise position and then back to set. As the plates come high, you want them to be facing frontwards, which gives the back of the shoulders a little bit of a pinch. When we add the peck deck, pretend you’re a cheerleader doing a five-count. After the second phase of the move, we bring the plates and arms together, squeezing the shoulder blades together and we really feel it in the pectoral muscles as well.
Push-ups. We can’t forget push-ups 🙂 We’ve been doing push-ups for generations as a means of working our shoulders and chest. But are we doing them properly? First off, keep your body straight as if you’re doing plank exercises, and take your hands shoulder-width apart. You really want to make sure you’re pushing through the palms of your hands, keeping your body straight, abs braced and chin slightly tucked. And try to stay on your toes 😉
There we have it. After you’ve worked your shoulders in BodyPump, you’ve hit the top of the mountain, or the peak, if you will, and you’re ready to bring it home.