One of the easiest ways to look awesome in your shirts and suits is to have a yoked set of traps and round, cannonball deltoids. Sadly, just like with the chest, lots of guys box themselves into multiple movements and don’t get that full range of muscle-building movement. That’s bad news because your shoulder joint is one of the most fragile, unstable joints in the body — and constantly beating it with the same movements can leave you open to injury.
If you’re looking to fill out those sleeves a bit more without hurting yourself, these moves might be your best friends.
Your shoulders are made from several muscles, and the three most distinguished ones are the deltoids: Front, medial or lateral, and rear deltoids.
There are also smaller muscles that hold the ball-shaped head of the arm bone in place in the socket of the shoulder blade, allowing it to spin and roll.
Now, if you want to build big shoulders, you must work hard to develop each of the three deltoids.
Most people focus just on the anterior (front) deltoid, and this makes for rather underwhelming shoulders that lack the round, full look that we really want.
So, then, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the best way to build full, round, proportionate shoulders…
Suggested Reps & Sets
For Bulk 6-8 reps | 3-4 sets (Heavyweight, low reps)
For Cutting 12-15 Reps | 4-5 sets (Lightweight, high reps)
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The shoulder press targets your shoulders, placing some emphasis on your triceps and upper back.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing away from you. Keep your chest up and your core braced, and look straight forward throughout the move.
Press the weights directly upwards until your arms are straight and the weights touch above your head. Slowly lower the weights back to the start position under control, pause, then start the next rep.
Tip: Always remember to warm up thoroughly when attempting any heavy lifts with your shoulders because the shoulder joint is one of the most intricate and mobile in the human body, which makes it more susceptible to injury.
Side Lateral Raise
The side lateral raise is an effective shoulder-strengthening movement designed to isolate the lateral head of the deltoid muscle.
Grasp dumbbells in front of thighs with elbows slightly bent. Bend over slightly with hips and knees bent slightly.
Raise upper arms to sides until elbows are shoulder height. Maintain elbows height above or equal to wrists. Lower and repeat.
Tip: Keep elbows pointed high while maintaining a slight bend through elbows (10° to 30° angle) throughout the movement. At top of the movement, elbows (not necessarily dumbbells) should be directly lateral to shoulders since elbows are slightly bent forward.
The upright rows is a weight training exercise performed by holding a grip with the overhand grip and lifting it straight up to the collarbone. This is a compound exercise that involves the trapezius, the deltoids, and the biceps.
Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold the weights in front of your thighs with your palms facing your body.
Keeping the weights as close to your body as possible, pull the dumbbells up toward your chest. Your elbows should remain flared out during the movement. When the dumbbells are at chest level (and not your chin), pause for 1-2 seconds, then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
The front raise is an isolation exercise for the shoulders, more specifically the front deltoid.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Keep the back straight and feet planted flat on the floor. Your arms holding weights should hang down.
Hold the dumbbells across your thighs horizontally, palms facing back toward the thighs. Ensure that you have a firm grip.
Brace the abdominal muscles.
Lift the weights upward, inhaling, with arms out in front and palms facing down. Keep a slight bend in the elbows to reduce the stress on the joints. Pause when the arms are approximately horizontal to the floor and feel the contraction in the shoulders.
Return the dumbbells to the starting position at the thighs with a slow and controlled motion while exhaling.
Tip: The absolute height of movement may depend on the range of motion. Raise should be limited to the height achieved just before tightness is felt in the shoulder capsule. Alternatively, height just above horizontal may be considered adequate. Elbows may be kept straight or slightly bent throughout the movement.