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The shoulders, or deltoids, are an often-overlooked muscle group, which is something that I observe everyday with my cardiac patients. This is unfortunate because they are one of the most important muscle groups that we use daily. Almost two out of three adults face some type of shoulder injury in their lifetime.

When training the shoulders, it’s most important to remember that the shoulder joint is very complex.

When beginning a strength-training routine, I most often observe that my clients shoulders are the weakest muscle group. In my experience, this weakness is even more pronounced in women. The benefit to improving shoulder strength if you have cardiovascular disease is that it helps to reduce your cardiovascular workload. This allows you to lift objects, do yard work, or exercise with less stress on your heart and cardiovascular system.

The shoulders or deltoids are active in nearly all arm movements. The deltoid muscle is made up of three muscles that cover the shoulder. They include the anterior, or front, middle, and posterior, or back, deltoid. Many people try to exercise all three areas with one or two exercises, which often leaves out the anterior and posterior deltoids.

To effectively develop strong shoulders a variety of exercises are required. Research done by the Clinical Exercise Physiology Department at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, which is widely known for their research on exercise and sports science, reveals the most effective shoulder exercises. They tested 10 of the most common shoulder exercises and narrowed it down to the top three. These three exercises are the dumbbell shoulder press, 45-degree incline row, and the seated rear lateral raise. These exercises work the anterior, middle and posterior deltoid in that order.

When training the shoulders, it’s most important to remember that the shoulder joint is very complex. That complexity requires a diverse approach with multiple exercises to develop both strength as well as provide protection to the shoulder joint.

Here’s a helpful guide to shoulder exercises.

What activities do you most enjoy when your shoulders are feeling strong?


Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

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