Being in the army means you will be lifting and carrying heavy stuff, and the bigger and taller you are the bigger and heavier stuff you will carry.  If you join the Army or Marine Corps and you are 6’3″ and 220 lbs, it is all but guaranteed that they will figure out how to hand you a machine gun, mortar or field radio no matter what your recruiter promised you.

Otherwise, you will be hefting supplies, ammo crates, your pack, or maybe a wounded comrade and overall physical strength is very important. Now, arms and shoulders are almost always given extra attention by male gym-goers, which is not a bad thing except, of course, if you disregard the other working parts of your bodies entirely. For the gym buffs, it’s fairly easy to decide which of the exercises they would like or would not like to do. Also, some people tend to grow pounds of muscles after a single lift (which is an exaggeration, obviously), while others struggle to develop their gun-rack. If you’re a newbie or just planning to start your journey to beefiness, or you just want to strengthen your shoulders, or you’re an expert who’s looking to try other routines, here are some workouts that you can try, that if done right will build strength without you injuring yourself in the process.

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press

A tried-and-tested upper body workout regardless of your lifting level and capability. This workout engages both your delts and upper traps. All you need is a weight bench, dumbbells, and willpower to complete your sets. The bench is usually set up at 90 degrees position, but if you want an extra challenge, you can incline it a bit. Here’s how you do it:

Sit on the bench and prop up your weights to shoulder level using your knees one at a time. Keep the tension on your upper body by tensing up your torso and engaging your abs as you lift your arms. Keep your shoulders squeezed as you go (like your squeezing walnuts between your shoulder blades) until your biceps and delts reach your ears. It is important to not lock out your elbows as that is not good for your joints. Also, do not clank the dumbbells overhead as that would mess up your mechanics at the top of the movement. One of the benefits of doing this exercise while sitting is there is less chance of you dropping the weights on your feet.

Here’s a tutorial from Howcast:

Shoulders Plate Press Out

Plate press out is excellent for isolating your chest and shoulder muscles. So, if you’re looking for something different from your usual chest and shoulder workouts, this is it. Plus, it only requires a weighted plate, and you’re good to go. If you don’t have one, you could use a water jug, a heavy book, or your cat. Anything weighted, really. To do this, start with standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Pick up your weighted plate by bending your knees and then hold it with both hands on the side of the plate. Hold it close to your chest, and then fully extend your arms out while making sure that your core is engaged and your back is straight. Your knees should be slightly bent the whole time. Slowly pull the plate back to your chest, and that should complete one rep. You could start with two to three sets of 8-12 reps. Be mindful that the weight of your plate should also be just heavy enough to challenge your muscles but not too heavy that you could not maintain your form.

Rear Delt Fly

If you’re looking to scalp your back, then rear delt fly is for you. Both your upper back muscles and posterior shoulder muscles (posterior deltoids) are strengthened with this exercise. To do this, start with sitting on the end of your bench. With your legs placed in front of you, slowly bend forward until your chest is slightly touching your thighs without pushing it too hard. Grab your dumbbells on both sides, bring them up like you’re flapping your wings, pause for a bit, and slowly put them back down, making sure that you are still in control and not letting gravity just drag your arms downward. Your chest should still be touching your thighs and not lifting up whenever you pull your arms up. Also, do not use momentum whenever you pull your arms up; instead, you should rely on your muscles.

One important thing while doing this routine: Posture.

If you find it difficult to keep your proper form while performing rear delt fly, then you could switch to a slightly lighter weight, which is totally fine since you’re not there trying to impress people anyway.

Lastly, like we always remind everyone: It is important to seek professional guidance if you’re performing these workouts for the first time to avoid injuries. Also, if you’re looking for a variation on your usual deadlift, check this one out.