Shoulder Workouts & Exercises to Maximize Development of Your Delts! 

Are you ready to put the weight of the world on your shoulders? Ok, maybe not the weight of the world, but if you want to develop nice delts, you gotta be ready to get the best shoulder workout and train them hard...

One of the most prominent, impressive muscles on the body, the shoulders are probably the single most important region in a man's physique, and important for women as well if they want a lean, in-shape look. Besides providing a well balanced appearance, a pair of developed, strong shoulders can be useful in a variety of activities.

For many people it can be an underdeveloped region, especially the lateral and posterior delts, but with enough targeted training those weaknesses can be turned into strengths! There are actually 4 different regions(not 3) that need to be worked in order to maximize the overall results, which we'll talk about later...

Keep in mind that bodypart specializations, such as specializing on the Shoulders, should only be done after you've reached a certain strength level with the major upper body exercises and only after you've been training consistently for quite some time...

Quick Tip: The best approach to training your Shoulders is to include them in a well-structured, total body workout program that scientifically plans all of these things for you: 1) volume, 2) intensity, 3) frequency, 4) progression, 5) exercise selection, 6) periodization & MUCH more...

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)

Here's an outline of the rest of this page:

1) Introduction of the Shoulder muscle group
2) Shoulder exercises
3) Quick training tips
4) Sample Shoulder workout

Introduction & Basic Anatomy

Commonly known as the 3-headed muscle, the deltoid is one of those rare features that are visible from all angles, and therefore need more targeted training and development to really stand out. However, an overlooked 4th region on the back of the shoulders is the rotator cuff, a group of muscles & tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. The health & integrity of your shoulder region depends on the rotator cuff.

The 3 main heads are the Anterior, Lateral & Posterior. The Anterior head is directly active in pec-related movements such as the bench, the Lateral is active in laterally raising the arm while the Posterior is activated in many back exercises.

The essential function of the whole group is to move the arm away from the body, in front, to the side, and away to the rear. The rotator cuff is involved in lateral and medial rotation as well as abduction(moving your forearm side to side while keeping the elbows in a fixed location).

Shoulder Exercises

Barbell Press

- Sit on incline bench.
- Grasp bar and lift off of support.
- Lower bar to chest.
- Raise bar up.
- Repeat.
When finished replace bar on support.

 Upright Row 

- Stand and hold barbell in hands as shown.
- Lift barbell to chin.
- Lower and repeat.
- For safety purposes, its better to grip the bar at shoulder width or slightly less than shoulder width.

Front Raise

- Start with both arms at side, holding weight.
- Keep elbow straight, raise one arm in front and over head and lower.
- As arm is lowered raise other arm in front and over head

Lateral Raise

- Hold weights in hands.
- Begin with arms at side elbows straight.
- Lift arms out to side, up to shoulder level.
- Keep elbows straight or slightly bent.
- Return to start position and repeat.

Back Shoulder Fly

- Stand, holding weights in hands.
- Bend slightly at hips.
- Lift arms up and back, as shown.
- Return to start position and repeat

Arnold Press

- Stand with feet hip distance apart.
- Start with weights in hands, palms inward as shown.
- Raise weights up and overhead while twisting as weights pass head.
- End with palms facing forward.
- When lowering weights, twist before reaching top of head.

Rotator Cuff In

- Secure pulley at waist level.
- Sit or stand with involved side to pulley, elbow at 90, arm at side.
- Grasp handle and pull hand inward, across body, as shown.
- Return to start position

Rotator Cuff Out

- Attach pulley to secure object at elbow height.
- Sit or stand, uninvolved side toward pull.
- Arm at side, elbow bent.
- Grasp handle, move forearm away from pull.
- Return to starting position.

See More Shoulder Exercises, Videos & Training Tutorials

Quick Training Tips

  • Training at multiple angles with multiple exercises is very important for developing the deltoids. In general, its better to do a 1-2 sets across a wide variety of exercises rather than doing many sets on just 1 or 2 moves.
  • In dumbbell & military(barbell) presses, start with a width that is slightly wider than shoulder-width in order to recruit more of the delt muscles.
  • Dumbbells should be incorporated in a routine to prevent imbalances from occurring on either side. During dumbbell presses, lower the weight slowly, pause for a second on the bottom, and explode back up without locking your joints at the top.
  • Using a smith machine is a great way to use heavy loads and enhance safety due to the built-in spotter mechanism and safety catches.
  • Lateral head development is best achieved through Upright Rows and Lateral Raises. For Upright rows, use a slightly less than shoulder width grip to minimize strain & discomfort on the shoulder joint. For lateral raises, slightly point your thumb downwards as you raise the weight.
  • Holding the weight for a couple of seconds at the top of a lateral raise movement is an effective way to intensify the exercise and feel the pump.
  • Many back exercises such as seated rows recruit the rear delt quite effectively. However, a few additional sets targeting the rear delts can help to maximize development, as well as create "defined" separation in the muscles.
  • Depending on how many military and dumbbell press sets you've done, front raises are optional as they target the anterior head which usually gets recruited in many movements.

Sample Shoulders Workout

As we mentioned on the top of this page, its better to train your Shoulders with a well-structured, total body workout program...

But, if you feel that you've been training long enough and have decent strength in the major upper body compound lifts, then you can try the sample Shoulder workout below to further specialize on that region:

Military Press: after warming up, 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Upright Rows: 2 sets of 10-12 reps
Rear Fly: 2 sets of 10-12 reps
Lateral Raises: 2 sets of 10-12 reps
Front Raises: 2 sets of 12-15 reps

Depending on your full weekly routine and how your train your upper body, this Shoulder workout can be done once a week and no more than twice. Rest times should be between 90-120 seconds between sets if your goal is to maximize growth.

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)


Upper: Abs | ArmsBack | Chest | Shoulders | Forearms | Biceps | Triceps | Lats | Full Upper
Lower: Quadriceps | Hamstring | Glutes | Calves | Full Lower