Building bigger shoulders can seem incredibly hard to do when you’re not equipped with the right exercises. You might spend days reading confusing articles that discuss anatomy and biomechanics but real results are made by making real efforts in the gym. Mass building isn’t exactly rocket science – it’s all about dialing in proper nutrition, smart training and adequate rest.
Assuming you’ve got your diet and recovery needs covered, in this article we want to give you a map of the shortest road to building the greatest shoulders you can, based on decades of collective bodybuilding experience and the most reliable studies in the field of exercise science. Check it out!
ASSAULT YOUR DELTS
No one can deny the importance of the delts for both the overall aesthetics and functionality of the upper body. Because of their critical function and extreme range of motion, strong delts are crucial for maximum performance and a complete, massive physique.Your delts are comprised of three heads – anterior, medial and lateral – with the anterior or front head being most important for adding thickness and width to your shoulders.
Although the anterior deltoids act as primary movers for a large variety of mass building exercises, they are best isolated with overhead barbell presses, which are an excellent compound mass builder that effectively targets the delts and improves core stability. For maximum hypertrophy, overhead pressing should be done at the beginning of your workout, after warming up your shoulders for 5-10 minutes. After completing the prescribed sets of overhead presses, you’ll attack your delts with high-volume front dumbbell raises and front barbell raises to really exhaust your delts and ensure their optimal development.
Here’s the workout that will give you monster shoulders in just a couple of months!
STANDING MILITARY PRESS
Sets: 3, Reps: 8-12
How to: Place a barbell on a squat rack, about chest high. Select the desired weight and grasp the bar with a pronated grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder width apart, then bend at the knees and place the barbell on your collar bone. Lift it up and keep it lying on your chest as you take one step back and position your feet at shoulder width apart. Press the bar up over your head by locking your arms and hold it slightly in front of your head. As you inhale, lower the bar down to your collarbone, then lift it back up overhead as you exhale. That’s one rep.
Note that lowering the bar behind the neck can place undue stress on the rotator cuff and increase susceptibility to injury, especially if your shoulders are weak and untrained, so it’s best to avoid it. If you have lower back pain, opt for the seated version.
FRONT DUMBBELL RAISE
Sets: 3, Reps: 12-15
How to: Pick up a pair of relatively heavy dumbbells and stand straight with the dumbbells at arm length and the palms of the hands facing your thighs. Keeping your torso stable and stationary, exhale and lift the left dumbbell to the front while making sure the palm is facing down. Continue raising it up until your arm is near parallel to the ground, then pause for a second and contract the working muscles. As you inhale, lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position while simultaneously lifting the right dumbbell in the same manner. Keep alternating like this until you complete the prescribed number of reps for each arm.
FRONT BARBELL RAISE
Sets: 3, Reps: 12-15
How to: From a standing position, grab a barbell with a pronated, shoulder-width grip and allow your arms to hang straight down with extended elbows. Your spine should be neutral and your head should face forward. Engage your abs to activate core support, drop your shoulders down and lift your chest up. As you inhale, flex your shoulders and raise the weight straight out in front of you while keeping the elbows extended and wrists neutral. Continue the movement until the barbell is slightly above shoulder level. Pause for a second at the top, then exhale and slowly return the weight back down.
For best results, perform this workout twice a week for 6-8 weeks and gradually increase the weight you work with. After that, you can add variety by alternating the last two exercises with dumbbell presses and close-grip shoulder presses. In addition, focus on getting an optimal ratio of high quality protein, complex carbs and healthy fats from your diet and make sure you get plenty of rest in between workouts.
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The road to fully rounded, shirt-busting delts has never been simpler – now it’s up to you to dial in the work. Keep it tight!