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This Is The Best Exercise For Sculpting Sexy Shoulders

We asked a trainer which is better: dumbbell alternating shoulder presses or lateral raises?

Don’t give all the attention to your abs and booty. Strong shoulders are super important, too. You need them for everything from opening heavy doors to carrying kids to holding your blow dryer up. Plus, keeping the muscles around your shoulders strong means decreasing the chance of possible injuries, during your workouts or just daily life.

For exercises that sculpt your shoulders, lateral raises and dumbbell alternating shoulder press are great options. But between the two, lateral raises are the best bet, says New York-based trainer Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S.

“Time and tension are the two main factors we look to for muscle strengthening and toning,” he explains. “Lateral raises keep the shoulder under tension the whole time and, as physics tells us (as does that deep burn a few reps in), the further you keep an object away from you, the heavier it is.”

Alternating presses are a good exercise, too, he adds. But since you’re working one shoulder and then the other, each arm is getting a quick rest in between reps, which limits the tension. Still, it doesn’t hurt to keep both in your arsenal for shoulder day!

Want to try these moves out for yourself? Here’s how:

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. Without changing the bend in your elbows, raise your arms straight out to your sides until they’re at shoulder level. Pause, then slowly lower the weights. That’s one rep.

How to: Hold the dumbbells next to your shoulders with your elbows bent. Your palms should be facing each other. Lift right dumbbell straight up until arm is fully extended, then return to start position. Repeat with left dumbbell. That’s one rep.