Building up the strength in your shoulders has a whole heap of benefits, but can you really get an effective shoulder workout without equipment?
Plenty of people have had their normal workout routines disrupted this year, with gyms having been forced to close for months at a time. The usual holy trinity of working out the legs, arms and core during different sessions throughout the week had to be adapted, and at-home workouts became the norm for a while.
This meant less equipment, fewer classes, and smaller spaces in which to exercise – and for those under the new tier four restrictions, this is once again the case. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t get an effective workout under these circumstances.
Bodyweight training is an effective way to build up strength in a balanced way without the need for equipment or a great deal of space, and actually, there are certain areas of the body that really benefit from bodyweight strengthening. Our shoulders are one such example.
Fitness trainer Emma Obayuvana is a member of the Strong Women Collective, and she explains that the reason we need to work on strengthening the shoulders is because “we use them every single day in a multitude of activities that involve pressing and pulling movements,” including everything from pushing away from our work desks to pulling the handbrakes in our cars.
She goes on to say that you can effectively use just your body weight to do this. “The key is simple exercises, good form, and slowing the movements down to challenge and develop shoulder strength and stability.”
And, while bodyweight training may sound somewhat limited, there are ways you can make it more challenging as you progress, by “applying the principle of progressive overload.”
As Emma explains, this can entail decreasing rest time, increasing the number of reps and sets, and slowing down the tempo to challenge the muscles or increasing it to up the heart rate. “Training shoulders at home without equipment is possible if you apply this principle,” she says.
She recommends giving the following workout a try, completing three sets of each of the five exercises, doing eight to 10 reps per exercise, and resting for one minute between sets:
- Downward dog press up
- Shoot throughs
- Bear crawl shoulder taps
- Plank to downward dog
- Travelling press ups
Downward dog press ups
From a high plank position, push yourself up through your hands and onto your toes, so that you end up in an inverted V shape. Then, keeping your body in its current shape, bend your arms to lower your upper body down towards the floor, before pressing back up.
On hands and knees, push your body upwards so that your knees are hovering just above the ground. From here, lift your left leg and cross it in front of your body, twisting your torso to the right as you do so. Keep your core tight throughout the movement, and then repeat on the opposite side.
Bear crawl shoulder taps
Once again start on your hands and knees and push your body upwards so that your knees are off the ground. Your hands and toes should be holding your weight. Then, simply lift your left hand and tap it on your right shoulder. Return, and repeat on the other side.
Plank to downward dog
Hold your body in a high plank position with your arms fully extended, your body in a straight line, and your hands and toes holding your weight. Then, push your hips backwards so that your body ends up in an inverted V shape. Hold for a second, return to your starting position and repeat.
Travelling press ups
Start in a high plank position, and then bring your knees down to the floor. Extend your left arm out to the side, place your left hand on the floor, and then bend your elbows to lower your body down towards the ground. Push back up, return your hand to the centre, and do the same with your right arm.
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