Shoulder Exercises to Sculpt and Tighten

Firm, chiseled shoulders not only help give you great posture but also make you look good

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Walk by the mirror and notice your posture. Do you like what you see?

Are you stooped forward and rounded at the shoulders? Is your upper back curved forward? Is your head forward of the rest of your body instead of floating atop your shoulders? If so, you may be overtraining the front of your shoulders and chest and ignoring the upper back of the body, including the rear shoulders. Training the shoulder muscles can help improve postural alignment when done in balance, say experts.

There are three shoulder muscles, explains exercise physiologist Kelli Calabrese, the anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (back) deltoid. Their main function is the lift the arm up to the front, the side, and the back, and to press overhead.

Poor posture comes from overworking the anterior deltoid.

"Everything we do we do forward," says exercise physiologist Nicole Gunning. "We drive, reach to a shelf, we use the computer all day."

Calabrese agrees.

"Generally, posture really encourages this overstretching of the posterior deltoid and tightening of the anterior deltoid. The back is stretched and weak and the front is so tight," she says.

In addition, people tend to hold stress in their shoulders, pulling them up and creating tension, says Calabrese.