Weight Lifting - Weight Lifting Exercises for Back and Shoulders Video
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Video:Weight Lifting Exercises for Back and Shoulders

with Jonathon E. Stewart

If you're tempted to skip those big muscles on your back and shoulders just because you can't see 'em, think again. As they protect and support your spine and the rest of your body, they're important to work out. Give these four exercises a shot.See Transcript

Transcript:Weight Lifting Exercises for Back and Shoulders

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. When lifting weights, especially if you're just hoping to look good on the beach come bathing suit weather, it's easy to overlook muscle groups like your shoulders and back. But these core muscles are vital for strength and overall body functioning, so give 'em a little love! Not to mention, a V-shaped back will do wonders for your physique. Check it out.

Begin a Back and Shoulder Weight Lifting Regime

Your shoulders and back make up the majority of your torso, so there are scores of exercises that work out these important areas. Today we're focusing on your latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, rear and front deltoids.

Try saying that 10 times fast. For today's exercises, start out with three sets of 10 repetitions of each, with about 30 to 60 seconds in between each set. Use a light weight that will allow you to finish all 30 reps without too much difficulty. You can always adjust your weights and reps later as you get more familiar with the exercises.

Weight Lifting Overhead Press

Also called a dumbbell military press, start by grabbing a weight in each hand, palms facing out, and resting them on your thighs as you settle into a low-backed chair. Carefully raise each weight to shoulder level, then press them together over your head until your elbows are fully extended and the ends of the weights touch. Bring the weights back down until your elbows are at 90 degree angles, then raise them back up, and repeat.

Weight Lifting Dumbbell Front Raises

Starting with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing down, raise one arm straight out until it becomes parallel with the floor, then bring it slowly back to a resting position. Relax and switch to your other arm - up, then down - this is one repetition. Be sure not to lock your elbows as you raise the weights - maintain a 15 or 20 degree bend at all times to avoid injury.

Now that your shoulders are good and warm, let's hit those back muscles. Be sure your really focus on form and proper posture with these - there's nothing worse than accidentally throwing out your back while you're trying to strengthen it.

Weight Lifting Lat Pull Downs

Start by grasping the pulldown bar with a wide, overhand grip, and pulling yourself down into the seat with your own weight. Tuck your knees under the leg pads, keep your focus forward, back straight, and slowly bring the bar down behind your neck. Carefully let the bar return to the top, and repeat. If you've got a sturdy overhead bar at home, a few sets of pull-ups with the same motion will hit your lats just as well.

There's some controversy about whether it's best to bring the bar down behind your neck or - as many experts claim - in front of your head, down to your chest. The bottom line is that either will hit your lats solidly - and in slightly different ways - but if you're mindful of not craning your neck forward, to the side, or hunching over to move the weight, behind-the-neck cable pulldowns are just as proper as the front ones.

Weight Lifting Cable Rows

Begin by planting your feet solidly on the platform in front of you, then grab the cable row handle with both hands, palms facing in. Keeping your back absolutely straight, push with your legs against the platform and slide yourself back on the bench, extending your knees nearly all the way but not locking them. Be sure your arms are completely extended. Next, bring your hands toward your chest by squeezing your shoulder blades together, then slowly let the weight bring your arms back to full extension. Don't bend your knees, and make sure your back remains at about a 115 degree angle to your legs, and repeat.

Back and Shoulder Exercise Tips

It's never a bad idea to have a partner spot you for any weight lifting exercise, to make sure you maintain your form and avoid dropping weights on your chest, or anywhere else for that matter. As you get these exercises under your belt, don't hesitate to branch out to others - routinely mixing it up is one of the best ways to keep your muscles in tip top shape.

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