Proving that age is no barrier to getting into great shape, 56-year old Chris Zaremba has qualified as a personal trainer and won his age group in the Miami Pro 2012 Fitness Model UK Championships. But he wasn’t always into fitness – six years ago he was overweight and very unfit.

In this series, Chris lists his favourite exercises for each body part, ones that have helped him make the transformation from fat to fit. This issue, Chris describes Six of the Best exercises for Shoulders. Video examples of all these exercises can be found at:

The shoulder joint connects the upper arm with the shoulder blade. It’s one of the most complex joints in our bodies, which is easy to see when you think of all the number of ways we can move this joint.


The majority of these movements are generated by the deltoid muscle and most of my six are designed to work this muscle and it’s various heads (front, side and back – of which more later). There’s also a set of muscles called the rotator cuff group, which are deeper within the shoulder complex and these provide additional protection, strength and stability.

A number of my six also work these. The deltoid muscle has three sections, each of which moves the arm differently. Raising an arm straight in front of you, a movement called shoulder flexion, is primarily the job of the front (anterior) deltoid. Lifting the arm out straight sideways requires shoulder abduction and is the key function of the side (lateral) deltoid.

And finally the shoulder extension movement, where the arm moves backwards at the shoulder joint, is the principal role of the rear (posterior) deltoid. The rotator cuff group come into play when there is an element of rotation, such as when folding our arms across our chest or when playing a tennis forehand.

Most shoulder moves require a complex interplay of all the shoulder muscles, so my Six of the Best includes exercises that require effort from all sections of the deltoid and the rotator cuff muscles.

It should also be noted that many shoulder exercises involve contributions from the chest and upper back, shoulder area (trapezius) muscles. And any motion that involves straightening at the elbow recruits the triceps too. So I’ve selected exercises where the shoulder muscles are the prime movers, relegating involvement from the other muscle groups into second place.

To give some variety, my six of the Best for Shoulders includes exercises using a variety of equipment: dumbbells, barbells, cable machines and seated machines.

Six rules for the Six:

These guidelines apply within each set for all these exercises:

1. Do the exercise correctly, don’t sacrifice good form to reach the numbers.

2. Only move those parts of the body that are meant to move in the exercise.

3. Lower Slower – the weight can go up quickly, but should come down slowly – resist gravity.

4. ExOnEx – Exhale on Exertion – breathe out as you push up.

5. Keep the weights moving, don’t stop at any point.

6. Don’t totally lock out your arms – doing so takes the effort away from the muscles.


1 Front Cable Raise

Front raises are a great way to target the anterior deltoid. You can perform them in many ways, with dumbbells, barbells, alternate sides on a cable machine, or – as in this variant – use a short bar on a cable machine. The cable machine normally offers small resistance increments enabling easier progression, but all are good pieces of kit to use for this shoulder exercise and others.

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How to Perform:

With a slight bend at your knees, stand away from the machine with the cable positioned between your legs. Hold the short bar with an overhand grip down by your thighs. Raise the bar to eye-level in an arc, keeping your arms straight, hold briefly at the top position then lower back to the start.

There can be a temptation to let gravity take the bar back so resist this and lower more slowly than the raise. Keep your body firm and vertical throughout – no leaning.


2 Standing Barbell Press

This exercise, also known as the Clean and Press, is a key one for developing the anterior deltoids and like many others, adds chest, trapezius and triceps to the mix. You can perform this exercise seated, but the standing variant adds the need for stabilisation from your core muscles. Either a straight bar or an EZ bar can be used – some people prefer the grip of the latter.

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How to Perform:

To get the bar into the start position you need to clean it from the floor. Start with the bar on the floor and take hold of it with an overhand shoulder-width apart or slightly wider grip. A

wider grip makes it easier to pass the knees when these are bent and pointed forward during the initial (lift) and final (lower) movements.

Squat down, keeping your heels on the ground and back flat, Extend your legs to lift the bar to hip-height, letting the legs go just short of locked out. Next, move the bar swiftly to a chest position. Push your hips forward to quickly transition the bar to shoulder-level. This is the starting position, from here press the bar up and overhead, then lower it slower back to your chest.

Keep the plane of the movement of the bar vertical and resist the temptation to assist the push by dipping and extending your legs. Your back, chest and legs should all remain stationary during the press. Once you’ve finished your set lower the bar firstly to your hips and then by bending your knees to the floor.


3 Lateral Dumbbell Raise

This is one of the basic exercises for working the lateral head of the deltoids. Note: the anterior or posterior sections of the muscle can also be involved if your arms are not exactly out to your sides.

Moving your arms so that they are slightly to the rear will introduce a degree of posterior deltoid effort. Similarly if you move your arms slightly forward then you’ll create a bit of anterior deltoid action.

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How to Perform:

Stand upright with your legs not quite locked out and dumbbells at your sides, with your palms facing inwards. Under control – that is without momentum and without assistance from your legs – raise the dumbbells so that your arms reach a position about parallel to the floor. Your palms should be facing downward at this point.

Wait for a second at the floor-parallel position then lower the dumbbells under control to the starting position. The lowering motion should be slower than the raising one, but in both cases you need to keep the speed constant once the movement has begun. Don’t decelerate halfway up, or accelerate halfway down.

* In Part 2 tomorrow Chris continues to look at great shoulder workouts. Come back and follow his programme to its conclusion!


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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans