People often don’t prioritize shoulders, but you’re missing out and your physique will make drastic changes when you do. Shoulders are a must-have body part to help finish off the top portion of any good physique. A good set of shoulders will help you to look wider and add mass to your arms to help increase definition and aesthetics.
Also, shoulders are a muscle group that aid in several other lift – having bigger and stronger shoulders will help increase your strength in other movements to help your overall progress in the gym. Try to implement these shoulder exercises to stimulate some serious growth.
Exercise #1: Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Heavy compound exercises incorporate several working muscles and are one of the best ways to increase strength and muscle hypertrophy. Dumbbell shoulder press is an exercise that will help increase upper body stability and strength.
- Start in a sitting position with your back against the support. Have a slight gap between the middle of your spine and the surface of the support.
- Kick your knees up to help propel the dumbbells to shoulder height. This will be the starting position. Having a spotter help you to control the weight to a supported starting position is recommended.
- Retract your scapula before the movement. In the majority of shoulder and back exercises, retracting your scapula will allow for better support and also allow muscles to properly activate and execute movements.
- Press the dumbbells in a vertical motion above your head. Note: Several people will focus on pressing with their forearms, however you want to mindfully move the weight with your shoulders. Driving the weight upwards through your elbow joint will provide proper shoulder activation.
- Control the weight back down to the starting position and repeat
Sets and Reps: 4×8-12, increasing the weight per set approaching the lower end of the rep range on the last set
Exercise #2: Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Dumbbell lateral raises are a basic movement to target the lateral head of your shoulder, but a smaller muscle called the supraspinatus is incorporated in this exercise. The supraspinatus is activated in the first part of the motion when first raising the dumbbells. Building the size of the supraspinatus will help to stabilize the shoulder socket in other lifts.
- In a secure standing position with your feet shoulder width apart, bring the dumbbells next to your side.
- Lift the dumbbells up and to the side to shoulder height causing your arms to become parallel with the ground. Do this without bending or changing the angle of your elbow joint from when you started the movement.
- Tighten your core to help your body to not swing during the movement.
- A key point to this exercise is to make sure that when you’re raising the dumbbells up, that you are letting the dumbbell hang below your elbow socket. If you were to draw a parallel line from your elbow at the end of the movement, the dumbbell should be slightly below it. This will allow for greater shoulder activation and tension on the muscle.
- Lower the dumbbells down to the starting position.
Sets and Reps: 4×10-12, AMRAP last set
Exercise #3: Face Pulls
Face pulls primarily target the rear head the posterior head of your shoulders. Developing the posterior head of your shoulders will be what really rounds out your shoulders for that 3-dimensional look. The posterior head is also a major muscle worked in rowing motions. Increasing the strength of the posterior head will improve rowing motions that could roll over in to making progress in back development.
- To set up, put the cable at a position slightly above eye level on a pulley machine.
- Then put on a rope attachment.
- Stagger your feet to give your body support throw the movement.
- Grab the rope with a pronated grip.
- Pull the rope directly towards your face while also separating your hands.
- Squeeze at the peak of contraction when pulling the rope towards your face.
- Control the weight slowly in the eccentric part of the movement.
Sets and Reps: 4×12-15, tempo is a 2 second squeeze with a 3 second eccentric
Exercise #4: Tri-Set: Upright Rows
To hit all heads of your shoulders, upright rows are one of the most effective exercises. Ending a workout with this tri-set will bring you to exhaustion and maximize hypertrophy. For this tri-set, adjusting the hand position is all that is needed.
- Get a barbell that holds an amount of weight that you can comfortably do several reps with.
- In a standing position, pick up the barbell with a wide overhand grip approximately 6-12 inches outside shoulder width.
- Keep a straight back and let the bar hang around your thighs
- Use your shoulders to raise the bar and bring your elbows up and to the side. Keep the bar close to your body as you raise it. The movement should be performed to where you are almost touching your chin. Drive the motion with your elbows and always keep your elbows above your forearms.
- Lower the bar back to the starting position next to your thighs and repeat for the desired repetitions.
- After finishing a set with a wide grip, immediately do a set with a shoulder width grip, and after the set with a shoulder width grip, immediately do a set with a close grip (hands almost touching).
Sets and Reps: 3×10-12 each set