Target Zones: Training the Shoulders

Aesthetically speaking, the shoulders can be a very underrated muscle to work. People always talk about having a nice chest or big arms but in my opinion nice shoulders will make the upper body look much better.

The shoulder is a very complicated area consisting of a lot of muscles. Within that one joint you have the 4 rotator cuff muscles and the chest an lats also insert in that area. The large muscle that we generally refer to when discussing the shoulders consists of 3 heads, the frontal, medial and lateral heads. It is important to understand this when working out the shoulders.

The first thing to take into account is that she shoulder joint is a very complex joint which assists in just about every upper body movement. Because of this, it serves many different and sometimes conflicting purposes. For this reason, it’s always important to exercise safely when working on the shoulders.

As I mentioned before, the shoulder joint is the home to the rotator cuff muscles, which rotate the arm internally and externally as well as assist in stabilizing the joint. I like to begin a shoulder workout by working (lightly) on the rotator cuff muscles as a way of reinforcing my shoulders stability for the heavier lifting.

The deltoids consist of 3 heads, the frontal (located on the front of the shoulder), the medial (located on the middle of the shoulder) and the lateral (located on the back of the shoulder) heads. In order to fully develop the shoulder one would need to work all three. Front raises are great for the frontal head. Lateral raises and upright rows are great for the medial head. Rear delt flys and reverse pec dec flys are great for the lateral head. Exercises like shoulder presses are also very effective because they require all three muscles working together as well as assistance from the rotator cuff muscles.

When training the shoulders, it’s important to look at it as a complicated joint which needs it’s parts worked both individually as well as together to get the best results.

Ask the trainer: When to stretch?

Question: Hi Ryan, I would like to know if it is better to stretch before or after I work out. People tell me different things and it can be very confusing. Thanks for your help.

Answer: The proper order of exercise, especially when it comes to stretching is one of those topics where you can ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. While I will answer your question, I will also try to answer the larger order of how to combine all of the different training modalities.

Warm up– When we work out, it is always important to warm up. The warm up can be a light jog or performing specific exercises or movments slowly or with little resistence. The idea is to get the body lose and the blood flowing in preparation for the intense exercise. Working out cold can sometimes lead to injury.

Resistence training– Resistence or strength training should be the first thing you do after the warmup if you are planning on it. The energy stores and muscle fiber types needed for resistence training will be the first to go so it’s important that if you are going to strength train that you do it first as you will likely not have as much energy later.

Cardiovascular training– Cardiovascular training relies primiraly on oxygen so it should always be done after your strength training. Some people prefer to do it first and while this is fine, it will take away from the energy needed for the workout.

Flexibility– Flexibility, or stretching should always be saved for the end of the work out unless there is a specific injury or severe tightnedd which needs work on prior to a workout. Stretching prior to a workout can interfere with the neuromuscular system and can cause the muscles to work in a less than efficient manner.

Cooldown– A cooldoen should always be done at the end of a workout. A stretch can be a way of cooling down but if you chose not to stretch, it is important to do something which will serve to cool the body down, rather than to stop

In home fitness training tip of the week

Every week I will be posting useful and interesting ideas for those who prefer at home fitness training to working out at a gym. These tips range will range from what equipment to buy to little things I’ve learned over the years.

This weeks tip: use an ottoman as a bench and storage. I train a couple and they live in a studio apartment. While they have a pair of bowflex dumbbells, there is not enough space to have a lot of fitness equipment. They came up with a brilliant idea to use a storage ottoman. It serves multiple purposes. In addition to it’s normal function, it is used to store fitness equipment when not in use and can be used as a bench for dumbbell presses, dips and tons of other exercises.

Exercise of the week: abdominal kick up

The abdominal Kick up is a great exercise to work the core.

Muscles used
Primary: rectus abdominus, obliques.
Secondary: erector spinae, pectoralis

Start: to start lie on your back and with your knees fully extended, raise your feet so that your hips are bent at 90 degrees. Your arms should be flat on the floor and should be used to counter balance the movement.

Movement: begin by pressing your arms into the floor and lift your hips off of the ground. Beginners should only Lift a couple of inches off but more advanced people can lift up to a foot off of the ground. Once you reach the top of the movement, pause and hold for a second. Finally, lower yourself slowly back to the starting position.

Weekly fitness Journal

As I planned way back in March, I finally began training at the Wat in September and I’m now a month into it. Training has been great so far. As someone new to training with a group, I started by taking the beginner classes and they have been very challenging. Kru Phil Nurse personally teaches the total beginner classes and there is a real mix of skill levels in the class. After a week or so I started taking the beginner- intermediate classes and have definitely noticed that I am playing catch up with the more experienced people.

Though I have a ways to go, I have noticed my running is really paying off. My conditioning is far better in the classes than I would have expected. I always feel fresh and ready to go which has been a big bonus. I’m really excited, already in a month I have noticed significant progress.

Workouts
Since I’m now taking Muay Thai classes 4-5 times a week, my running has tapered off a bit. I’m running 3-4 days a week. I work out with weights about 2-3 days a week.

Best time of the day to work out

A common question I get from my client’s is regarding what the best time of imagesday is to exercise. As a general rule, I would tend to say that the answer is specific to the person and people should work out at a time which is convenient for them. Not everybody is passionate about fitness and finding time to exercise can be hard enough without someone telling you specifically what time of day is best to work out. Also, everybody is different so one person may feel at his or her best while working out first thing in the morning while another may like to work out at midnight. There really is no right or wrong answer, whatever will keep a person committed to the fitness program is the best way.

With that said and all things being equal, here are some pro’s and con’s to working out at the various times during the day:

MorningOn the plus side, working out in the morning means that you get it out-of the way and are not likely to have something come up which would cause you to miss the workout. A morning workout is also somewhat of a natural energy booster and many people report that their morning workout helps give them energy for the day. On the negative side, working out first thing in the morning can put a person at greater risk for a lower back injury so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone with a lower back problem. Also, it’s usually advisable to eat two hours before a workout and this is not practical for someone working out in the morning, so many people chose to exercise on little or no food. This means that we don’t have sufficient energy to perform at an optimal level.

AfternoonOn the plus side, studies have shown that afternoon workouts are the most efficient. It is around this time that we have the right balance of concentration, energy and alertness. The body is also sufficiently warm. It can also help to kickstart the rest of the day as many of us suffer from the mid afternoon crash. There aren’t really any negatives to working out in the afternoon outside of the fact that it may not be the most practical time to exercise.

Evening–  One the plus side, an evening workout can serve as great stress relief after a long day. It is also efficient energetically if it is some time after lunch but before dinner as a person will have a good amount of energy for the workout. Evening workouts are also practical for those unable to work out in the morning. Some people, like me, like to work out in the evening because it tires you out for the night and can help with getting a good night of sleep.  On the minus side, working out in the evening means that you have the entire day for something to come up and interfere with your workout. Also, for some, it may be hard to have an optimal amount of energy after a long day at work. Finally, there are some, unlike me, who are wired after a workout and an evening workout may result in them having trouble sleeping.

As I said before, the answer to this question is very person specific and there is no right or wrong time to work out. My best advice is do what fits best into your schedule and have fun.

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