Question: I have narrow, sloping shoulders. Are there exercises that will improve them?
Answer: Add muscle mass to your upper trapezius muscles, or "traps," to eliminate the sloping look. Also, pack on deltoid (shoulder) muscle to build up and widen the shoulders.
Standard upright rows and dumbbell shoulder shrugs are good for developing the upper traps. Military presses and front shoulder raises work the top and front of the deltoid muscle. For the outer head and rear deltoid, do lateral and rear shoulder raises.
The shoulder muscles are prone to injury if you train them incorrectly. The deltoids are designed for mobility because of their 360 degree range of motion. It's crucial that you train all three portions (top, front, and back) of the deltoid to prevent injury.
In any deltoid exercise except overhead presses, never lift the arms higher than parallel to the floor. Beyond this range, you cross an anatomical barrier that puts unnecessary stress on the joints.
One last thing - don't train your shoulders and chest in the same workout. You'll overwork the shoulder joint and put it at risk for overuse injury.
Q: I sprained my ankle a few months ago, and it's very weak and caves in easily. I'm so afraid of hurting it again that I won't exercise. Are there some safe exercises I can do to strengthen my ankle?
A: You cannot strengthen damaged ligaments with exercise, but you can strengthen the muscles and tendons around them; this will help protect your ankle from further injury.
Here are some safe exercises you can do at home:
1. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step. Hold onto something for balance. Point your feet straight ahead. Lower your heels past the step. Next, lift up on the balls of your feet as high as you can. Repeat 8-10 times.
For the next two exercises, you'll need to purchase exercise tubing.
2. Tie one end of the band around a heavy or immovable object (a closed door knob or couch leg for example). Wrap the other end around your foot. Sit on the floor with your leg straight so the band is taut. Now bend at your ankle pulling your foot back toward you. Hold for 10 seconds, breathing deeply, then return slowly to the starting position. Repeat 4-6 times with each foot.
3. With the band secured as in the previous exercise, sit in a chair and wrap the end of the band around your foot. Sit far enough from the secured end so that the band is taut. Keep your heel on the floor as you slowly pivot your foot out to the right. Repeat a few times then pivot to the left. Next slip the band around the other foot. With your heel on the floor, slowly repeat the entire sequence. Repeat a few times with each foot.
Q: Please explain the differences between power lifting and Olympic weight lifting.
A: Power lifting is a sport that involves competition in three exercises - the squat, bench press, and dead lift.
Power lifts use heavy workloads and are preformed with strict form and technique. The lifts themselves are not as ballistic as in Olympic lifting.
Olympic weight lifting on the other hand involves only two lifts - the clean and jerk and the snatch. They are high-speed, explosive lifts and involve lighter workloads than power lifting.
Like power lifting, Olympic lifting is performed with attention to technique and form.
Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.