There’s a reason nobody talks about “hamstringing” a burden. Or “tricepsing” a burden. No muscle group carries a load more effectively, while looking as powerful, as the shoulders—and in this workout, shouldering a burden is exactly what you’re going to do.

Atlas famously carried the sky upon his shoulders. Quarterbacks, swimmers, tennis players, and baseball pitchers rely upon their shoulders, along with their hips and core, to drive their arms and deliver powerful strokes and throws.

Of course, most regular folks rarely shoulder a physical burden outside of the weight room, even though our shoulders take a beating from sitting hunched over computers, behind steering wheels, and gazing at smart phones. As a result, we’re more prone than previous generations to be hunched over. That’s why any shoulder workout should begin with proper stretching and movement preparation. (We like this shoulders warmup and these shoulder-saving exercises). Combine that prep with this circuit-style shoulders workout, and you’ll build shoulders and traps capable of handling any burden.

30-minute shoulder workout: How it works

Dumbbells are especially effective at challenging the shoulders, because they force us to stabilize at the joint, creating both strength and stability. In this 30-minute dumbbell workout to build your shoulders, we’ll hammer through four circuits of these seven moves. Rest only briefly between each round of the circuit.