The deltoids are large shoulder muscles that support everything you do with your arms. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint and its range of motion enables many different exercises, about half of which will strengthen the mid to rear shoulders. For more movements from the Element Training program, click on the figure at left.
Exercises for Strength
Circular Dumbbell Flies
This exercise combines both forward and lateral dumbell flies. Stand and hold a light dumbell in each hand. Bring your hands down in front of you, palms facing downward and elbows slightly bent. Swing your arms slowly up and forward until the weights are over your head. From here, lower your straight arms to your sides, passing through a crucifix position and returning to the beginning of the exercise. Reverse direction to balance the workout, keeping your back strong and straight and knees slightly bent throughout.
Hold a dumbell beside your head with your palm facing forward, and straighten your arm to lift it straight up. Keep your neck and back straight. You can also come into the motion from a concentration curl, and follow it up with a double-armed triceps extension.
Similar to regular push-ups, only the upper arms stay parallel to the body, with the elbows against the sides and the forearms like pillars underneath them. Pushing up and down creates a more shoulder- and tricep-focused form of everyone's favorite exercise. A static hold in the starting position is known as the Four-Limbed Staff Pose.
Beginning on your hands and knees, place the top of your head on the floor between your hands. Next lift your knees off the floor by straightening your legs. Walk your feet forward to make your torso vertical, and straighten your arms to lift your body up and down. Once you've mastered the headstand as well as the handstand described below, you can try it with your feet off the ground, first lowering slowly from handstand into headstand, then going the other way.
Stretches for Flexibility
Rotator Cuff Stretches
(One) Stand and place the back of your hand against your spine, and slowly lift it up to a comfortable and challenging height. Gently pull the stretch with your other hand if you can reach it, or connect the hands by gripping a towel if you can't. (Two) Anchor the back of your wrist against your waist, then reach over with the assisting hand and gently pull your elbow forward. (Three) Place one elbow on top of the other in front of your chest. Touch the bottom hand's fingers to the top hand's palm, and push forward with the bottom hand.
Kneel and straighten your body into a knee-standing position. Place your palms on the back of your waist and slowly lower them, keeping your thighs vertical, feeling the opening in your chest and the stretch throughout your abs and front side. A potent shoulder stretch can be had once the stretch deepens, by reaching back and down to take hold of your heels.
Stand and extend your arms straight sideways, then begin to make circles with them starting small and becoming large. Do the circles both ways, facing palms up when you're circling forward on the bottom, and palms down when you're circling forward on the top.
Numerous pectoral stretches will also target the delts. You can refer to the yoga mudra, the wall stretches and all the others here.
Static Holds for Endurance
Downward Dog Pose
Come onto your hands and knees, with your knees directly under your hips, your palms directly under your shoulders, and your middle fingers pointed forward. Next straighten your legs, then glide your hips backward to bring your torso in line with your arms. You'll finish in an inverted V. Keep your spine straight, relax your heels towards the floor, and breathe deeply.
Begin by coming into downward dog pose, with your hands about two inches from a wall. Walk your toes forward to make your torso vertical. Finally swing your legs up, one or two at a time, being careful not to kick the wall too hard. Keep your shoulders strong and reach your feet towards the ceiling. After coming out of this pose, come into child's pose for a while to let your circulation return to normal.