Here’s a short questionnaire to determine your risk for shoulder pain: Do you train heavy? Do you do more sets of pushing exercises than ones that have you pulling? Do you sit at a desk in front of a computer for most of the day?
If you’re age 40 or over and answered yes to one or all of the above, don’t be surprised if you end up with a shoulder impingement or a rotator cuff injury. And if your shoulders already ache, maybe now you understand why.
“Years of poor posture combined with imbalanced upper-body training have probably given you tight pecs and front delts,” says David Jack, creator of the Men’s Health Muscle After 40 (MA40) program, and more heavy bench and overhead pressing is only going to make the problem worse. “It’s time to start training the delts with more joint-friendly exercises and strengthening your upper back to even out the imbalance.”
That’s the focus of the following 12 exercises, which blow up your shoulders without exposing them to the risks of heavy weight. Light dumbbells, bands, and your body weight are all you need while you target not only the delts but the rotator cuff and scapular muscles too, creating stability and balance in your shoulders that will serve you for years of hard training to come.
Incorporate the exercises below into your upper-body workouts, or perform them all together as a stand-alone shoulder workout in the order shown. Complete 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps for each move (on each side, where applicable).
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