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6 min read

How Do You Tone Your Shoulders Fast? 5 Exercises

When training your arms, it's easy to think only of defined biceps and triceps, and that’s wonderful, but you may be leaving out one of the most important pieces to the upper body puzzle; your shoulders. If that sounds like you, you may be wondering how to tone your shoulders quickly, so they match the rest of your arms; here's how:

For the fastest results to toned shoulder muscles, you should work your shoulders 2-3 times per week for about 20 minutes each time. Heavy weights aren't required, especially if you're new, or returning to exercise, you'll want to start slow/light, and you can work your way up from there.

Because the shoulder is so large and complex, it can take more time to tone. But, with some patience and following the guide below, you'll be able to create the best program to achieve strong and toned shoulders as quickly as possible. Let's get started!

Toned Shoulders 101: Anatomy, Timeframe, Shaping, and Trimming Fat

The shoulders are one of the largest and most complex joints in your body, which is why it's so important to keep them trained. Most of your day-to-day movement includes your shoulder joint, but it's something easily overlooked.

Brushing your teeth and your hair, cooking, driving a car, carrying all of your groceries inside in one trip; pretty much anything that involves the use of your arms.

Because of the intricacies of your shoulder, there's more to working them than simply isolating a shoulder exercise; you need to also work the muscles that surround it, which is especially important for injury prevention.

Those muscles include the rotator cuffs, deltoids, traps, and lats.

  • Rotator Cuff - These muscles surround the shoulder joint. They are responsible for keeping your bone in your socket.
  • Deltoids - These are the rounded, triangular-shaped muscle located at the top of the arm and shoulder. They are responsible for helping you move your arm in different directions and stabilizing your shoulder joint.
  • Traps - These muscles start at the base of your neck and extend through your shoulder to your mid back. They help you move your head, neck, arms, shoulders, and torso. They also play an important role in good posture.
  • Lats - These are the large muscle that covers your middle and lower back, starting right below your shoulder blade. They assist in scapular motion.

Training shoulders is certainly great for building strength, and daily activities, but studies show that focusing on strengthening your shoulders can also help prevent injuries to the joint. And preventing injuries from occurring in the first place is always better than rehabilitating them.

How Long Does It Take to Tone Shoulders?

Toning your shoulders should take anywhere from 8-12 weeks. This varies based on a person's body type and response to exercise. Because of the complexity of shoulders, it can take longer to see results. But, consistent exercise, a nutritious diet, and resting are essential to seeing results.

The time it takes to tone your shoulders will vary for each person. Remember, exercise is not one size fits all, and what may work for someone else may not work for you.

Diet, also comes into play, as it does whenever your body composition is adjusting. Your diet and exercise program need to work hand in hand if you want to see quicker results.

Rest is imperative as well. Giving yourself time to recover between workouts will help you get the tone you desire much faster than successive workouts.

Essentially, when we work out, we break our muscles down, and rest allows them to repair so they can grow. In general, however, toning your shoulders should take anywhere from 8-12 weeks. Again, this depends on the above factors.

How Do I Shape My Shoulders?

The key to shaping shoulders is to equally train all the muscles in the shoulder joint. Because the shoulders can move in many directions, there are many exercise options. To shape your shoulders, create a plan with a variety of exercises that avoids undertraining and overtraining specific muscles.

Shaping your shoulders may be the key to getting an hourglass shape. For instance, if your shoulders have a little more width, your hips may look smaller. But, getting those shapely shoulders requires training all of the muscles in your shoulder joint.

You also want to train every muscle to avoid undertraining or overtraining. Overtraining in particular can lead to injury.

The good news though comes from a study of athletes and the effects of shoulder strength and injury. The study found that a proper approach, one that is paced correctly and targets strength-building across all muscles in the shoulder, helps prevent injury.

How Can I Lose Fat on My Shoulders?

While it’s not possible to target fat loss, known as “spot reduction”, you can tone specific muscle groups. When you build lean muscle mass, it will help you decrease body fat in general. Studies show that muscle uses both glucose and fatty acids as fuel, so themore muscle you pack on the better your body will be at metabolizing fat.

You may find that you have a stubborn area near your deltoids under your armpits where you just can’t seem to lose fat. As we talked about above, you can’t target that area specifically, but you can add muscle in that area, giving the appearance of a slimmer physique. 

The good news is, this is something most of us deal with, so you’re not alone. For a more confident feeling in a sports bra, try a virtual bra fitting to help you pick out the best sports bra for your body.

Sometimes all we need is clothing that fits us just right!

The 5 Best Exercises for Toned Shoulders

Alright, now that you know the ins and outs of your shoulders, and how to shape and tone them, it's time to learn the proper shoulder exercises to help you reach your fitness goals. The following shoulder exercises only require light weights.

As you get stronger, consider increasing your weight. But as you know by now, training shoulders doesn't require heavy lifting.

Try each move with 5-10 pound dumbbells at 8-10 reps each. Remember that your form is the most important part of an exercise, so if notice you are starting to sacrifice your form, take a rest or grab a lighter weight. Ready? Let's go!

1.   Shoulder Press (8-10lbs)

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart, and a dumbbell in each hand at your shoulders.
  • Press your arms straight up above your head.
  • Return to the starting position.

2.   Lateral Raise (5-8lbs)

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart, and a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  • Raise your arms out to the side until they are parallel with the floor at shoulder height.
  • Return your arms to the starting position.

3.   Front Raise (5-8lbs)

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart, and a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  • With your palms facing toward you, raise your arms straight out in front of you until they are parallel to the floor at shoulder height.
  • Return your arms to the starting position.

4.   Upright Row (8-10lbs)

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart, and a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  • Bend your elbows, bringing the weights up to chest height (your elbows will be out to the side). Keep the weights close to your body as if you are pulling up your shirt.
  • Return your arms to the starting position.

5.   Reverse Fly (5-10lbs)

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Hinge forward at the hips, with your knees slightly bent.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together to bring your arms up and out to the side, keeping them slightly bent.
  • Return to the starting position.

Proper Form and Consistency are How You Get Toned Shoulders Fast

Remember, the key to success with any workout is proper form and consistency. If you want to tone your shoulders quickly, be sure to add these exercises into your routine 2-3 times per week.

The next time you hit the gym to work your upper body, don’t forget to add your shoulders to your routine.While maybe not as glamorous or as fun as working your triceps and biceps, they can help the rest of your body stay strong and injury-free.

It’s also important to focus on other areas of fitness likecardiovascular health (like our jump rope workout), flexibility, and nutrition - with proper programming, you should start to see noticeable results in the next few months.