Can You Slim Down Your Shoulders?

By Beth Rifkin

Excess weight can cause unsightly fat on your entire body, including your shoulders and upper arms. Reducing fat from just one area of your body is not possible, but engaging in a comprehensive fitness plan that creates a calorie deficit and builds lean muscle mass can help to lower your overall body-fat percentage. Cardiovascular activity and strength training combined with a healthy diet can lead to a slimmer shoulder area.

Eat Clean

Your diet is a key component in creating a calorie deficit -- eating fewer calories than you burn -- and shedding excess weight. Specific caloric needs vary per person and are dependent on aspects such as, age, weight, activity level and muscle-mass percentage. Stick to foods that contain lean protein, whole-grain carbohydrates, poly and monounsaturated fats, fruit and vegetables. Eliminate processed foods and those that are filled with preservatives, saturated fats and added sugars.

Move Your Body

A woman is running outside.

Regular cardiovascular exercise can help to burn body fat and reduce the excess weight from your shoulders. The ACSM recommends 150 to 250 minutes of moderately-paced cardio activity per week for weight loss. Cardio activities that engage your upper body offer a double benefit by toning your shoulders and arms while you burn calories. For example, using the rowing machine, which targets your shoulders, back, abs and legs, can burn 260 calories in 30 minutes for a person weighing 155 pounds. Working out on an elliptical trainer with moving arms for a half hour can allow for a 335-calorie burn for a 155-pound person.

Build Lean Muscle

A woman is strength training.

Building lean muscle mass can help to boost your metabolism. The body expends more calories to maintain muscle than it does with fat; the uptake in calorie burn can then lead to fat loss. Developing lean muscle mass can be accomplished by including at least two full-body strength-training sessions per week in your fitness program. Focus on the larger muscle groups in your body – the latissiumus dorsi, pectorallis major, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings – to maximize muscle development and the potential fat-burning benefits. Compound exercises allow you to target more than one muscle at a time; these include lat pulldowns for the back and bench presses for the chest. Squats, lunges and deadlifts strengthen your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. Use resistance levels that allow for eight to 12 repetitions in a set. Complete three to four sets per exercise.

Shoulder-Specific Exercises

A woman outside performing shoulder exercises.

Give your shoulder muscles, or deltoids, extra attention with targeted exercises to create a toned and rounded look. The exercises won't spot reduce fat, but they will help to improve the definition and look of your shoulders and upper arms. The deltoids contain three heads – the anterior, lateral and posterior – all of which serve to lift and rotate your arms. Isolate the deltoids with exercises like lateral raises, front raises, overhead presses, supermans, pushups and reverse flyes. Train your shoulders two to three times per week by including two to three shoulder-specific exercises in strength-training sessions. Allow for 24 to 48 hours between sessions for rest and recovery, which can help to avoid injuries. Also, be sure to warm up your muscles with light cardio and dynamic stretches before training.


About the Author

Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

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