Building the Best Shoulder Workout

Building the Best Shoulder Workout

Having a huge set of shoulders commands respect and shouts “I lift heavy.”
While there are many ways to grow your shoulders, there are some things that are more effective. Eating enough calories, progressively overloading your lifts, and using proper form is all it takes to build some boulder shoulders.

If you’ve been training your deltoids hard and you haven’t seen enough growth, here are some valuable secrets to getting them to start growing.

Oh yeah, and there’s a shoulder workout at the end of the article.

7 Tips to Building Some Boulder Shoulders

#1 - Pressing Exercises Train Your Shoulders, But You Aren’t Done Yet

It’s smart to do heavy presses at the beginning of your workout because that’s when you have the most energy and strength.

In terms of bang for your buck in the gym, compound presses targeting the shoulders are king. Since barbells and dumbbells take coordination and stabilizer muscles to properly perform, jumping onto a machine to do more presses works well.

Next time you are training shoulders, add on some machine overhead presses at the end of your workout.

#2 - You Shouldn’t Waste Your Time on Front Delt Work

Any pressing movement trains your front delts. I’ve never seen anyone with underdeveloped delts — unless they have underdeveloped side and rear delts.

Most lifters have larger front delts due to all of the pressing movements in both shoulder and chest exercises.

Since you only have so much time and energy, skipping the extra front delt work can help you spend the energy elsewhere.

#3 - Don’t Forget About the Rest

All pressing movements work your shoulders, so it makes sense to give them plenty of rest. Trust me, once you wreck your shoulders, you’ll realize how important they are in many exercises.

You can pound out some volume on shoulders, but try to keep in the 8-12 rep range.

Take time to let your shoulders rest, eat some nutritious foods, and get plenty of sleep.

#4 - Add More Laterals for Impressive Caps

Getting those round shoulders takes more lateral work. Most people do one lateral exercise and sometimes hit the machines afterward.

If you’re looking to build exceptional shoulders, be sure to train with free weights and follow it up with some cable or machine work. This will allow you to get the most out of your training without sacrificing your shoulders’ safety.

#5 - Hit Those Laterals On an Off Day

Remember how I said to add more laterals? Doing them on an off-shoulder day will help with recovery and adding more volume.

This is the time to show your rear delts more love and get some side lateral raises in.

#6 - Don’t Forget Your Rear Delts

The rear delt is generally underdeveloped since it’s not a glamour muscle. Don’t forget to give your rear delts some love with plenty of volume and recovery.

Your rear delt is a small muscle; hit it with proper form and volume.

#7 - Practice Proper Form

Take it from me; you don’t want to hurt your shoulders. The pain and need to train differently makes a shoulder injury no fun.

Check your ego at the door and use adequate weight to hit near failure in every set.

Best Shoulder Workout Routine

This workout is technically two days per week — the lateral work will be done on a non-shoulder day.

Workout 1

Seated Barbell Overhead Press

  • Perform 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Pick a weight that is heavy, but one you can complete all reps.

Arnold Press

  • Perform 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Choose a lighter weight and maintain time under tension throughout the lift

Machine Press

  • Your delts may be fatigued, but machines will finish them off.
  • Perform 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Don’t be afraid to use a weight that forces you to failure


  • Don’t perform those half-rep crap form shrugs you see the bros doing in the gym. Sacrifice having 4 wheels on the bar for good form.
  • Perform 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Focus on a solid contraction in a full range of motion — it will increase the effectiveness of the exercise

Bent-Over Lateral Raise or Reverse Pec Dec

  • Finish off your rear delts with some rear lateral raises or hop on the reverse pec dec.
  • Perform 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Keep a longer time under tension and use a slower tempo than you normally use

Workout 2

This is supposed to be done on your off-shoulder day. Choose a day that is not upper body — legs or back day would be a good time to do these.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  • Perform 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Perform proper form and don’t let your ego talk you into lifting too much

Bent-Over Lateral Raise

  • Perform 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Use a light weight and ensure of a good contraction

Face Pulls

  • One last rear delt exercise — face pulls. One of my favorite trap and rear delt builders, this exercise will put some mass on.
  • Perform 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Perform this exercise at a slower tempo and get a full range of motion
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