Jose Luis Pelaez IncGetty Images
There’s something about a strong set of shoulders that just makes a physique.
But working to build mass without your shoulders clicking, popping, and grinding can feel next to impossible if you’ve had issues with your health—particularly for guys over 40. Overhead pressing motions like military presses can be pure hell, and, when performed with less-than-stellar form, can risk injury to the lower back as well.
Trainer Paul Sklar, C.S.C.S. is proof that you can build strong, healthy shoulders without pain, if you work the right way. He showed a two-move shoulder-building power combo in a recent video posted to Instagram that can help you to get the work in without risking as much damage as other moves.
The workout targets the traps, rear delts, and scapular muscles. The second exercise, a bent-over rear delt raise, hits your scapular retractors, which are key to improving posture, shoulder function, and mobility, along with reducing the risk of joint injury.
For the first move, a dumbbell shoulder shrug, you’ll grab a pair of heavy dumbbells (Sklar is holding 100 pounds in each hand) and let them hang at arm’s length at your side, with a neutral grip. From here, you’ll shrug your shoulders as high as you can without moving the rest of your body or using any momentum. Pause and squeeze at the top, then slowly lower the weights so that you feel a gentle stretch in your traps.
Next up, you’ll perform a bent over rear delt raise, using a pair of much lighter weights. Stand holding the weights in a neutral grip, then bend at the the hips and allow a slight bend in your knees (almost like you’re lowering into a deadlift) until your back is nearly parallel to the floor, allowing the dumbbells to hang directly below your shoulders. Squeeze your back muscles and raise your arms to the side, pause and continue to squeeze your muscles at the top, then lower back slowly, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows throughout.
How’d that feel? If you have cranky shoulders, it had to feel better than those overhead presses.
If you’re interested in staying fit over 40, check out the Men’s Health Muscle After 40 program. You’ll get a whole set of routines designed for guys who have gotten older, but aren’t even close to throwing in the towel on their fitness.