Toned shoulders challenge

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Women are often more interested in abs and legs workouts, but training our upper bodies is important too. Apart from the fact that having upper body strength is useful in everyday life and often helps prevent back injury, toned shoulders, arms and chest look good.  Our shoulder muscles work in two ways.  They perform lots of lifting, pushing and pulling actions and also stabilise our shoulder blades while other muscles are performing actions.  The 3 exercises in this challenge work the shoulder muscles in different ways, for best results in improving strength and tone.

toned shoulders challenge PDF

Info box

Before you start the toned shoulders challenge

You’ll need some hand weights for the exercises to be effective.  2lb or 4lb (1kg or 2kg) should be challenging enough for anyone who doesn’t do regular strength training.

You should warm your shoulders up before using the weights with arm circles (see below).

Please make sure you’ve also read the safety information here.

The chart gives you the number of reps you should do of the exercises each day.  You can download a printable copy of the chart by using the form at the end.

Progressing on from the challenge

Once you’ve finished the challenge, you could try some of the other challenges suggested below, or the 4 week arm and chest workout. Alternatively, once you get to the 20 reps of everything at the end of the challenge, you could continue to do these reps 3 times a week and try to increase your weights every few weeks.

Warm up

Before you start, warm up your shoulders with few arm circles. Stand with your feet about hip distance and then rotate your arms all the way round in front of your body. Do 3-5 in both inward and outward directions.

Arm circles

 

The exercises

#1 How to do the shoulder press

Toned shoulders challenge - shoulder press

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance.
  2. Start with your elbows bent and hands either side of your shoulders, palms facing forwards.
  3. Extend your elbows, lifting the weights above your head.
  4. When your arms are straight, reverse the movement and bring your hands to the starting position.

#2 How to do the forward raise

Forward raise

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance.
  2. Start with your arms straight by your side, palms facing inwards.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, lift the weights in front of your body up to shoulder height.
  4. When your arms are horizontal, stop and lower back down to the starting position.

#3 How to do the dumbbell side raise

Toned shoulders challenge - Side raise

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance.
  2. Start with your arms straight by your side, palms facing inwards.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, lift the weights out to the side.
  4. When your arms are horizontal, stop and lower back down to the starting position.

Daily exercise reps

Toned shoulder challenge reps

Get the toned shoulders challenge PDF

Sign up for My Fitness Planner updates and get a link to a free printable PDF of this workout e-mailed to you:

After you sign up, you’ll get 2 e-mails, one will have a link to your printable download and the other will be a welcome e-mail.

If the e-mails haven’t turned up within a few minutes, please check your junk folder, as some service providers have very strict filters.

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Challenge FAQs

The first day of the challenge should feel like it needs a bit of effort, but not too much. If you really struggle with day 1, then you probably won’t get through the challenge. The idea with the challenges on this site is that the first few days get you used to the exercises and the daily habit. Usually about halfway through the challenge the effort levels start to increase more quickly.

Avoid challenges that increase effort levels very quickly – they’re simply not realistic. It’s unlikely that, for example, you would be able to increase how many squats you are able to do by 10 a day for 30 days, or increase your plank hold time by 10 seconds a day for 30 days.

In general, allowing muscles 48 hours between workouts is good because it gives our bodies time to recover and adapt. Challenges are generally short workouts and for a limited period of time (usually 30 days), so not having many rest days won’t be a problem. With challenges that alternate exercises each day, it’s not an issue, because you’re using different muscles.

Fitness improvements don’t always happen in a predictable way. Sometimes we’re just not as strong or energetic for no apparent reason, or we hit a plateau. If you get to a point where you’re struggling to complete the day’s challenge, you can try one of the following:

  • Take a couple of days off and start again where you left off
  • Do the challenge on alternate days rather than every day
  • Instead of increasing the effort every day, stay at the same level for 2 or 3 days and then go onto the next day of the challenge

Obviously these solutions mean the challenge will last longer, but you’ll still benefit from doing it.