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Nothing draws attention like a strong set of shoulders—though not for the reasons you’d think. Sure, muscular shoulders and traps bulge out of a T-shirt and give you a lean, powerful look. But shoulders also play a more prominent role in core stabilization. When you can move by pulling your shoulders back and down—as if trying to pull them into your back pockets—you’re counteracting the effects of sitting all day.
In our sedentary culture, we spend much of our time slouched forward at desks and behind steering wheels. As a result, we end up hunched over, which over time contributes to muscle dysfunction and injury. That’s because our shoulders do a lot of work in everyday life. There’s a reason we call it shouldering a burden.
The next time you’re people-watching, look at passers-by from a side view. Notice how few of them have a straight line between ear and shoulder; most tend to protrude forward. When you have properly functioning shoulders, you’ll stand taller and appear more powerful. Added muscle is just a nice byproduct from training for shoulder function.
The best part? You don’t have to fight over dumbbells at the gym to get bigger, stronger shoulders. And you don’t have to do those absurdly difficult CrossFit-style handstand pushups, either.
Here are 10 exercises to help you reap the rewards of stronger shoulders and traps. You can use these as part of a regular workout or as a standalone circuit. If you do a circuit, do two sets of 10.
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