Often neglected but highly respected, deltoid perfection is what a well-proportioned upper body needs most.
Fitness by Mike Mauney
Miss Colorado Teen USA 2004 Tori Carter demonstrates the Dumbbell Shoulder Press.
The areas of the body that most often need improvement are, by far, the waist, hips, and thighs. Very rarely will someone say that they believe they have a great waistline, awesome hips, and slender thighs. These are most women’s problem areas that must be taken care of if you are going to have an attractive swimsuit body. But, there is still another part of the body that, while often overlooked, needs to be focused on in order to have “the total package” — the shoulders.
Shoulders, or more specifically the deltoid muscles, are very important body parts that often seem to get the least amount of attention, but they are very important to “the total package.” I seldom hear the competitor say, “I need help improving my shoulders.” Along with the waist, hips, and thighs, competitors often request exercises to improve their arms and back. “I would love to have the definition in my arms like Miss So-and-so,” they will say, or “I want to have the type of tone and defined back like Mrs. So-and-so.”
There are several reasons why shoulders seem to always be placed on the “back burner” when it comes time to start an exercise program. The first reason is obvious: when looking in the mirror for body flaws, it may be difficult for women to get past the waist and thighs to even notice their shoulders. The waist that used to be so tiny and those thick thighs that were once so lean and cut are hard to ignore. The second reason is due to the fact that shoulders are slow to improve through exercise, are one of the hardest areas of the body to train without getting injured, and they take a long time to heal once an injury has occurred.
Now that you have a better idea why shoulders do not receive the training they need, here is what you need to do to put greater emphasis on shoulder fitness:
1. When you look in the mirror, focus more on your entire body and how each body part is currently proportioned with the others.
2. Make a mental image of how your shoulders will look once you have lost the weight in your waist, hips, and thighs. Remember: you will lose some weight and size in your shoulders as you are losing weight in the other areas of your body.
Sit or stand straight up.
1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, raise arms at each side until 2. elbows are parallel with shoulders. This is the starting position.
3. Raise dumbbells straight up above the head and touch them together.
4. Lower dumbbells back to the starting position.
Breathing Tip: Exhale as you raise the weights and inhale as you lower them.
3. Determine if you will need to start toning your shoulders or if you will need to gain more size in them in order for your shoulders to be in proportion with the rest of your body. If toning is needed, I suggest that you begin shoulder exercises, completing 3-4 sets, 10-12 reps per set, 3 times a week (every other day) using medium weight. If you need to increase the size of your shoulders, I suggest you complete 5-6 sets, 6-8 reps per set, 2 times a week (every third day) using a heavier weight. For shoulder toning, use dumbbells of 8-12 pounds; for size-increasing workouts, use dumbbells of 12-20 pounds.
4. Remember to use the correct technique and amount of weight to avoid injury and achieve the results you are looking to obtain.
5. The shoulders are one of the areas of the body with the least amount of blood flow. This is why you will see results come slowly and also why it will take the longest amount of time to heal if an injury should occur.
If you follow this advice, you will soon be able to look at your entire body with pride, and you will have a better understanding of what needs to be done to achieve “the total package.” As always, remember to eat healthy and exercise safely.
Mike Mauney, owner of Body Design By Mike fitness center in North Carolina, is a Personal Fitness Trainer certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers. Mike specializes in Personal Fitness Training for women of all ages. For twelve years he has been training dancers, models, cheerleaders, pageant and swimsuit contestants of all ages and competition levels (local, state, national, and international). His daughter Michelle Mauney was Miss North Carolina USA 1995. Some of Mike’s training credits includes the following: Carrie Stroup, Miss World United States 2001, Janice Ward, Mrs. United States 1999, Vanessa Minnillo, swimsuit winner and Miss Teen USA 1998, and Michelle Warren, 1st runner-up Miss America Pageant 1998.