The Best Exercises for 7 Popular Trouble Spots (Part 2)
Find out the best butt, hip and thigh exercises, the best calf exercises, the best chest exercises, the best shoulder exercises, the best back exercises, the best arm exercises and the best ab exercises in this 2-part series. In part 2, you'll learn how to target the shoulders, back, arms, and abs.
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In Part 1 of this series on the best exercises for 7 popular trouble spots, you learned the best exercises to tackle and tone the troublesome areas of your butt, thighs, hips, and chest. In this episode, we’re going to focus on your shoulders, back, arms, and abs.
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When it comes to your shoulders, you’d think a basic overhead shoulder press would be the best way to go, but it turns out that to get a nice, toned triangular look in your shoulders, you actually need to do 2 types of “raises” – both a lateral raise and a rear raise.
You need to perform 2 different exercises because the deltoid muscles in your shoulders a.k.a. "delts" are actually comprised of 3 distinct sets of muscle fibers – each of which can be targeted with different moves. So you need to come at your shoulder from a variety of different angles.
For a lateral delt raise, simply stand with your arms at your side holding a weight such as a dumbbell in each hand, then, keeping your arms as straight as possible, raise the dumbbells out to the side until they are parallel to your shoulders. Finally, slowly lower the weights back to the start position.
The movement for a rear delt raise is very similar, but this time, you’re bent over with your butt out behind you and a straight back, and you start with the dumbbells hanging below your chest. Then you raise the dumbbells (as if your arms were airplane wings) towards the ceiling while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Your back is comprised of many different muscles, but when it comes to your posture, how you look in a t-shirt or swimsuit, or how you look with your shirt off, there are 3 specific muscle groups that you really need to target: your upper trapezius a.k.a. "traps," your mid-trapezius, and your latissimus dorsi a.k.a. “lats.”
The trapezius is a large muscle that extends from the back of your head all the way down to your mid-back, and is responsible for moving your shoulder blades and supporting your arms. Your latissimus is the larger, flat “wing-shaped” muscle that extends from your spine all the way out to underneath your armpits. One of its primary purposes is to engage in upper body pulling. A nice, toned trapezius and lattisimus dorsi form the foundation of a good-looking back!
Nothing beats a basic shoulder shrug for the upper traps. This exercise is as simple as it sounds. Simply stand with a weight at your side and shrug – with a goal of driving your shoulders all the way up to reach the bottom of your ears. Hold for 1 or 2 seconds, then lower.
For the mid-traps, you’ll want to do bent-over rows. There are many versions of bent-over rows, but my favorite is to simply bend over with a straight back, in a lunging position, with your body weight supported over both legs. In this position, you should be holding a dumbbell in one hand. Then simply row that dumbbell as high as possible, as if you were starting a lawnmower. Hold for 1 or 2 seconds, then lower.
Finally, for your lats, there is nothing better than a pull-up or a pull-down. For either of these exercises, try to grip the bar that you are pulling towards your chest with a “thumbs-off” grip, because this will activate more of your back muscles.