Shoulder Big Loads

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This 4-week progression strengthens your core while building your shoulders
Workout by: Carter Hays, Photographs by: Beth Bischoff

If your core is weak, pressing heavy weights overhead puts you at risk of lower-back injury. This 4-week progression strengthens your core while building your shoulders. Perform these core workouts 2 or 3 days a week. Do 12 repetitions of each move, resting 45 to 90 seconds after each set or superset.

WEEK 1

3 sets of the V-sit dumbbell press, then 3 sets of the single-leg lateral raise, swapping legs each set.

WEEK 2

3 sets of the Olympic military press, then 3 sets of the single-leg lateral raise, but perform the lateral raise with a dumbbell in one hand and your other arm at your side. (Move the weight to your other hand after 6 reps and switch legs each set.)

WEEK 3

For your first superset: Do 1 set of 12 reps of the V-sit dumbbell press, followed, without rest, by 1 set of 12 reps of the single-leg lateral raise.

For your second superset: Same as the first superset, but for the V-sit dumbbell press, alternate arms from the top of the move so that you lower one weight while keeping the other arm extended, then press the weight back up and lower the other arm.

For your third superset: Same as the first superset, but for the V-sit dumbbell press, use just one dumbbell and press it overhead with your other arm at your side. (Switch the weight to your other hand after 6 reps.)

WEEK 4

Same as week 2, but perform the moves in superset fashion, moving from one exercise to the next without rest in between.

Easy: V-SIT DUMBBELL PRESS
Sit on the floor with your legs spread in a V and hold a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes and press your hamstrings and calves against the floor. Keeping your chest up and your forearms perpendicular to the floor, press the weights up until your arms are extended, pause, then slowly lower your arms.

Moderate: SINGLE-LEG LATERAL RAISE
Stand on one leg and hold a pair of light dumbbells at your sides, palms toward you. Keeping your knees slightly bent and your arms straight, raise the weights out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor. Pause, then slowly lower your arms to the starting position.

Difficult: OLYMPIC MILITARY PRESS
Stand holding a barbell just in front of your shoulders with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Your elbows should point straight ahead, and the bar should rest in the crooks of your fingers. Press the weight above you and slightly back so that, at the top of the motion, your arms are even with your ears or just behind them. Contract your arms for a second, then slowly lower the weight to the starting position.

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