Fitness Trail: Three excellent deltoid exercises |

Fitness Trail: Three excellent deltoid exercises

Overhead Press performed on the Smith Machine.
Jackie Wright

The deltoid muscles move the glenohumeral joint through abduction, flexion and extension. These muscles engage when the arm moves away from the sides of the body. Along with the rhomboids, serratus anterior, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi and rotator cuff (i.e. supraspinatus/infraspinatus/teres minor and subscapularis – SITS muscles), the deltoids contribute to the mobility and stability of the shoulder joint. This week, three excellent deltoid exercises will be featured. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of the following exercises two-three times per week on non-consecutive days.

• Seated Overhead Press – Smith Machine – sitting on a heavy bench with the bench placed upright in a “chair” position so that when you are performing the overhead press, the bar position is racked close to the torso at chest height when you are in a seated position. Hands are placed approximately shoulder distance apart on the bar, sitting upright with the back against the upright segment of the bench, unrack the bar (be cautious that you are not so close that you will hit your nose when pressing the bar up, but close enough so that you are not leaning forward. Engaging the anterior/medial deltoids (front/side of shoulders), press the bar overhead until the arms are fully extended, and then return to approximately chest height. Make certain not to lower the bar too low as you will disengage the deltoids and may injure that region as well. Slow, controlled overhead press and return. Most Smith Machine bars weigh 25lbs. Therefore, if this is too heavy, then perform with the skull crusher bar or body bar. *Trains the anterior/medial deltoids.

• Standing Lateral Raises – Matrix Functional Trainer – place the cable/pulley at the lowest setting on the column and place a handle in the carabineer. Choose a light/moderate weight increment on the stack. Stand facing 90 degrees from the column holding the handle in the outside hand; however, you want the cable in front of the body enough so you may move it freely. Legs are approximately shoulder distance apart. Engaging the medial deltoids (middle of the shoulder), lift the arm to 90 degrees of shoulder abduction (i.e. parallel to the floor) and then lower back to the side of the outside thigh. Never throw the arms to gain height or lean the opposite direction. Keep the body motionless and isolate the middle of the shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side. *Trains the medial deltoids and nose to toes core.

• Rear Flyes – incline bench – 15 degrees – dumbbells – choose light-moderate dumbbells as this exercise targets the rear deltoids which are small muscles that do not have a great deal of individual strength. Your position on this exercise is critical. Lie prone on the incline bench, chin off end, arms begin suspended, palms facing the bench. Engaging the rear deltoids (back of shoulders), lift the arms to shoulder height, parallel to the floor and then lower to the beginning position. You must avoid lifting the torso, moving the arms behind your shoulders or throwing the dumbbells to gain height. Be wise and choose lighter dumbbells so that you are able to perform a rear flye and receive the strengthening benefits to the rear shoulder! Perform on the opposite side. *Trains the rear deltoids.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby. She may be reached at her email address at, her website at and her Facebook page at Mountain Life Fitness.

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