If you're worried about a little extra padding in the shoulders, never fear -- a sensible eating and exercise program can help. However, don't fall for the spot-reduction myth; performing shoulder exercises will tone your muscles, but will not directly affect fat. However, when you lose weight all over, your shoulders will shrink in proportion to the rest of your body.
Perform cardiovascular exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day, five days per week. Cardio may not pump up your shoulder muscles, but it will shred calories for faster weight loss. Running is a top pick; at 6 mph, a 155-pound woman torches 375 calories per 30 minutes. Race walking burns about 240 calories each 30 minutes at the same weight, while the average 30-minute swimming session burns about 225 calories for that 155-pound gal.
Perform Supermans. Lie on your stomach with your arms extended forward, palms facing each other, and your legs extended behind you. Lift your legs and arms a few inches from the ground, keeping your face off the floor and your head aligned with your spine. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat for a total of 10 repetitions. Work up to two or three sets. These moves tone deltoid muscles in your outer shoulders as well as trapezius muscles in your upper shoulders and neck. As a bonus, Supermans are also excellent glute shapers.
Shrug your shoulders. Perform shoulder shrugs by standing with a dumbbell in each hand and relax your arms by your sides. Shrug your shoulders to lift them as high as possible, then lower and repeat for 12 repetitions. Aim for two to three sets. Shoulder shrugs work your shoulders as well as your delts and traps, and are super-simple to boot.
Perform pushups. These target the chest, but also tone your delts as well as the tricep muscles on the backs of your upper arms. If you can't do a regular pushup, don't stress -- the bent-knee version is a nice alternative. Lie on your stomach, bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor just outside your shoulders. Lift your body by pushing down on your hands to straighten your elbows, leaving your knees on the ground as you move. Bend your elbows to return to starting postion, and repeat for a total of 12 repetitions. Strive for two to three sets.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Oregon Health and Science University: Obesity Treatment Overview
- American Council on Exercise: Supermans
- ExRx.net: Push-Up (On Knees)
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Shrug
- Most women lose weight eating 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day.
- See your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
- Take it easy at first -- rushing into a tough routine leads to soreness, muscle strain and discouragement.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.