Fit Tip: The Deltoid Muscle – How to Work all Three Parts of the Shoulder

In the arm work section of class, we target all three parts of the deltoid (commonly known as the shoulder muscle) in addition to the biceps, triceps, chest and back. Below, is a deeper understanding of the deltoid muscle with some sample exercises on how to target the different parts so that you can get the most out of your arm work!

First off, it is important to properly align the scapular stabilizers so that the deltoid muscle can be targeted without straining the shoulder joint – very important for preventing injury! To get this, you slightly shrug your shoulders (think straight line running from the tip of one shoulder, across the collar bone, to the tip of the other shoulder) so that the arm bones are properly aligned in the socket. Keeping the shoulder blades wide across the back, open hands to face forward and create space across the chest and a slight external rotation of the upper arm bone. When moving into arm work, you want to keep the shoulder blades in this stable position.

Anterior Deltoid Lateral DeltoidPosterior Deltoid

Anterior Deltoid
The anterior deltoid fibers run along the front part of the shoulder muscle and when contracted move the arm anteriorly, think reaching forward or lifting the arm to grab something – or give a high five :).
Sample Exercise: Long Arm Walks
Begin by finding scapular stability and keeping arms straight lift them to shoulder height with thumbs facing up. Take one arm up to hairline while the other lowers to just in front of your thigh. Slowly and with control of the shoulder blades, switch the arms while focusing on the lifting and the lowering coming from the front of the shoulder. Repeat.

Lateral Deltoid
The lateral deltoid fibers run along the side of the shoulder when contracted create lateral abduction or arm moving away from the body – think reaching out to the side.
Sample Exercise: Shoulder Press
Begin by finding scapular stability, then bend your elbows and open the forearms out to the side (with palms facing forward). Lift the arms up until they straighten but keep the hands forward of the body – once again think lift to hairline rather than all the way over head. Slowly and with resistance, pull elbows back toward rib cage. Repeat.
Posterior Deltoid
The posterior deltoid fibers run along the back of the shoulder and when contracted move the arm posteriorly, think reaching backwards to grab your child’s hand.
Sample Exercise: Posterior Lifts
Begin by finding scapular stability, then take straight arms in a narrow V to halfway between your shoulders and hips. Rotate palms to face up, keep the upper arm here and just rotate the thumbs to face down. Keeping the open space across your chest, do small lifts up and down (about and inch) focusing on engaging the back of the shoulder.
Proper function of all these muscles is necessary to maintain optimal shoulder stability and strength, which is why we balance out our classes to target all three parts of this muscle.
Happy lifting and pressing,
– Jill

One response to “Fit Tip: The Deltoid Muscle – How to Work all Three Parts of the Shoulder”

  1. […] You’ll find all the exercises necessary to develop the three heads of the shoulder: […]

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