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Five easy exercises to tone your shoulders

Use these movements to build strength while safeguarding your body from Injury

Story by Jeremy Grace + Photography Mike Ritterbeck

Strong shoulders are always in season. Not only do you look great in sleeveless tops, but you are also able to perform daily tasks more easily. If you are planning to work on your shoulders, you need to have the right tools and techniques to see results and prevent injuries. First, keep some light dumbbells on hand. A couple of medium-sized food cans will also work. Then, follow these five exercises to strengthen your shoulders.

Hillary Dollenberg, a third generation Hilton Head Islander, graciously agreed to demonstrate these exercises at the reimagined and expanded fitness center at Sea Pines Country Club. When she’s not working out, Dollenberg enjoys giving back to the community through local charities and non-profits. She is also a licensed Realtor that specializes in luxury properties, working with her husband, Eric Dollenberg.


Side-Raise with Bent Arms

First, stand with your feet hip-width apart and dumbbells in each hand. Put your arms down at your sides with your palms facing inward. Next, bend your arms to about 45 degrees. Keep your upper arms close to your body. Then, raise your arms until your hands and elbows are just below shoulder height. Lower your arms and repeat for about ten repetitions.

Black Fly

This shoulder exercise is great for your posture because it targets the back shoulder muscles. First, pick up a dumbbell in each hand and step your right foot in front of your left. Bend your leg slightly as if you are doing a lunge. Remember to keep your upper body straight to help engage your muscles. Next, point your arms down towards the floor, keeping them straight. Then, move your arms up, stopping when they are just below shoulder height. Lower your arms to the starting positions and repeat about ten times.

Wood Chops

First, you will need to hold the ends of one dumbbell with both hands in front of you. Your feet should be about hip-width apart, knees bent slightly. Next, place your hands in front of your left hip. Rotate your torso and use your left foot to help you turn towards the right. While this is happening, raise your arms in a diagonal direction from your left hip, across your body, finishing in the air over your right hip. Hold the position for a few seconds, then return to starting position. After completing ten repetitions, switch sides. This exercise can also tone your abs if you rotate your torso while raising your arms.

Military Press

First, pick up a dumbbell in each hand and place your feet hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent. Hold two dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Slowly press the dumbbells upward until your arms are straight. Lower your hands back to your shoulders and repeat for 10 repetitions.

Alternating Front Raise

Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and dumbbells in each hand. Your arms should be by your sides with palms facing inwards. Using a straight arm, lift your left arm to shoulder height. Slowly lower it and repeat the action with your right arm. Complete ten repetitions for each arm, alternating each time.


Whether you are just getting into fitness or you have been working out for a while, it is important to pay attention to your shoulders. You do not need fancy workout equipment to complete these exercises, dumbbells or cans do the trick. Remember to start out slowly, adding more sets or weight as you become more comfortable with the routines. Soon, you will be on your way to impressive shoulders.