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How can I get nice shoulders for the summer?

The question

What is a good shoulder routine? I want nice shoulders for summer, but I am bored with what I currently do.

The answer

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Do exercises for all three heads of the deltoid (shoulder) muscle, as well as for the rotator cuff muscles.

A sample routine could be: overhead shoulder press, as long as you don't have high blood pressure, lateral raises, front raises, reverse flys and external rotation. (Videos of these exercises can be found on The Globe and Mail's website, at tgam.ca/fitnessbasics.)

For variety, try "T" raises. Holding one- to eight-pound weights, stand with your arms by your side, palms facing in. Lift your arms up to shoulder height so your body looks like a "T". Keep your arms horizontal to the floor as you move your hands in front of your chest. Pause for one count. Initiating with your upper back, return your arms to the "T" position. Lower them down to your side and repeat 12-15 times. Use a weight with which you can maintain good form for all repetitions.

For variety in training styles, try tabata intervals of up/up/down/downs. Alternate working hard for 20 seconds with a break for 10 seconds for four minutes. This exercise works the shoulders, chest, triceps and core. Up/up/down/downs: Balance in a plank position on your forearms and your toes. Place your right and then your left hand on the floor. Return to the starting position. Alternate the hand you place down first. Keep your shoulders over your elbows, hips still and back neutral throughout the exercise.

Trainer's tip

People tend to do more exercises for the chest and front of the shoulder than they do for the upper back, posterior portion of the shoulder and rotator muscles. This imbalance can lead to a rounded posture. To reverse this, do two exercises for the back and rotator muscles for every chest/front of shoulder exercise you do.

For example, if you do a set of push-ups, do a set of rows as well as a set of external rotations.

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Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your fitness questions at trainer@globeandmail.com.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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