Study Reveals Best Moves to Promote Overall Shoulder Strength

Independent Research Commissioned by the American Council on Exercise Identifies Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Incline Row, and Lateral Raise as Tops

SAN DIEGO--()--An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States visit an emergency room for shoulder problems each year, according to the National Institutes of Health, and studies show a total of 69% of people will experience a shoulder injury at some point in their lives.

Despite that high rate of injury, strength-training routines are typically dominated by exercises that train only the front of the shoulder, which is actually comprised of three distinct muscles. In order to provide people with the most effective exercises for strengthening the overall shoulder and preventing injury, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) commissioned an independent study to evaluate top exercises for the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids.

“Part of the reason why shoulder injuries are so common, besides improper exercise technique, is that people commonly over train one or two deltoid muscles while neglecting others,” said ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. “A complex ball-and-socket joint like the shoulder that moves in so many directions requires performing a variety of exercises to achieve optimal strength and function.”

To help evaluate the most effective exercises for strengthening all three muscles of the shoulder, ACE recruited an independent team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse led by John Porcari, Ph.D.

The team compiled a list of the 10 very popular shoulder exercises frequently performed by recreational lifters and athletes and commonly recommended by trainers. Dumbbell shoulder presses, push-ups, cable diagonal raises, dips, dumbbell front raises, battle ropes, barbell upright rows, bent-arm lateral raises, 45-degree incline rows and seated rear lateral raises made the cut.

Researchers then recruited 16 healthy male volunteers aged 18–30 and asked them to perform each exercise with EMG electrodes attached to the three different muscle heads of the shoulder – the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids. Following testing, researchers used statistical equations to evaluate the data.

The results showed there is not one best exercise that completely works all muscles of the shoulders. Instead, for maximum activation, exercisers should perform the dumbbell shoulder press to target the front, and either the 45-degree incline row or the seated rear lateral raise for the rear.

“Activating all three heads of deltoids by performing multiple exercises will ultimately offer the best and most functional training results,” Bryant said.

About ACE

The nonprofit American Council on Exercise (ACE) educates, certifies, and speaks for a growing network of 54,000 fitness professionals, health coaches and other wellness experts, a community ACE is leading more directly into the fight against physical inactivity and obesity. ACE advocates for recognition of its profession as a provider of primary prevention and obesity-management services, and it makes available to the public science-based information and resources on safe and effective physical activity and general healthy living. Headquartered in San Diego, ACE is the largest provider of health and fitness certifications accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the gold standard in the United States for assessing professional competence, ensuring people have access to fitness, health and wellness professionals that are properly trained, qualified and capable. For more information, call (888) 825-3636 or visit ACEfitness.org. AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.

Contacts

American Council on Exercise
Bianka Rubio, (858) 576-6509
pr@ACEfitness.org

Contacts

American Council on Exercise
Bianka Rubio, (858) 576-6509
pr@ACEfitness.org