"I would like to develop my shoulders a little to get a more toned look without too much bulk. Any tips?" - Ms Donnelly, Storrington

We need to focus in on your deltoids, especially the side deltoids.

To work these, which will add shoulder width and give you that fit, toned look of film and sports stars, prioritise on side-lateral raises.

Start off with very light dumbbells (1 or 2 kg). Standing up or sitting on a bench with a straight backrest, raise your arms to the sides with some minor bend in the elbow to prevent any undue stress.

You should feel the side deltoid doing the work so do not lean back or too far forwards and, as you raise your arms to the sides, rotate your fists so the thumbs turn forwards and down as if you are tipping water out of a jug. This will isolate the muscle further.

Don't be afraid to add more weight but only if you can keep good form.

After a warm-up with no weights, raise the weights slowly up to the shoulder line but no higher. If you do, your trapezius will take over and you may develop muscles at the side of your neck.

Pause momentarily at the top to feel a slight burn in the muscle then resist on the way down.

Importantly, do not just stop at the bottom at your thighs, go straight up again but without momentum.

Keep very focussed on these side "caps" and keep the tension on them.

If you start swinging the weights up in an albatross style, you may not hit the shoulders but other muscles.

Some gyms have side deltoid machines which are excellent.

A good variation is to support yourself with a rack or post and work one arm at a time - this can be very intense.

You can also build in a "superset" with dumbbell presses (one set of each with no rest, then rest) to work yourself to absolute failure once a week.

Otherwise, do three straight sets of 8-12 repetitions twice a week.

This is a very difficult exercise to get right but it's worth persevering as you can build beautifully-toned, shapely shoulders without looking bulky.

Toned shoulders look amazing on women and, with men, shoulder-width and a waspish waist have always been the prerequisites of a healthy specimen. Look at Greek statues and ancient Egyptian wall paintings and you'll see what I mean.

Article by personal trainer David Gordon. If you would like to train or book a free consultation with David, call 01903 202895 or email personaltrainer@tiscali.co.uk
Send your questions to David Gordon, Features, Argus House, Crowhurst Road, Hollingbury, Brighton BN1 8AR.

David regrets he cannot enter into personal correspondence. Please consult your GP before starting to exercise.