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The Best Shoulder Exercises

So many people in the gym, as well as many athletes in general, all want one of the same goals to an extent. We all want to have bigger and more rounded shoulders, many of us just don’t know it. The reason for this is by having larger shoulders, it gives more width to your upper body which increases the amount of tapering your upper body will have. By increasing the size of your shoulders you are giving the illusion of your waist appearing smaller, which is what gives many people that V shape physique.


If you want your shoulders to grow as much as possible, you will need to focus your training in a way to isolate all the major heads. Many people simply focus on the frontal head and neglect the medial and lateral heads since we don’t really see them. By focusing most of your deltoid training on the medial and lateral heads, you will increase the size of your shoulders to help give them that popping, more rounded appearance.

shoulder press

1-Lateral Raises

One of the greatest shoulder exercises available when performed correctly. Don’t just pick up a weight and throw it up with poor form only to neglect the focus on getting a complete contraction. If you do this you are simply wasting your time in the gym and are putting yourself at a higher risk of becoming injured. Start with the weight at your sides, not in front of you, to ensure you aren’t using any momentum from your body to help cheat the movement. Raise the weight upwards without using your back to help until the weight is at eye level, pause at the top for about a second and slowly control the weight as you lower it back down. Don’t just let the weight fall by itself, fight gravity and lower it using your shoulders.

medicine ball front raise

2- Standing and Seated Shoulder Press

Although these two exercises are very similar and go hand in hand, I incorporate both of these into my shoulder routine. Performed in the same fashion, with the only difference being that one is standing and the other is seated on a bench, start with a weight that you can control for about 15-20 reps. You aren’t going for short reps here, instead, the goal is higher reps because the range of motion is a bit shorter when compared to lateral raises.

Push the weight upwards and bring it back down strictly and controlled. Avoid pausing at the bottom of each rep because we don’t want to eliminate that contraction, instead, we want the tension to remain constant so we will perform each rep without pausing on the bottom and top for the entire 15-20 reps. For these, the advantage that the standing press has to offer over the seated is that with standing you also incorporate engaging the core into the exercise, whereas with seated the lower body is supported and only the shoulders are engaged.

beach body ready

3- Wide Grip Seated Rows

This may seem like a back exercise to many, but what many people who train shoulders fail to do is properly train the rear delts. On a seated cable bench in which you would perform regular rows on, connect the wide grip lateral pull down bar to the machine. Place your hands at the furthest outside edge of the bar and begin as is you were performing a regular row. However, instead of pulling the bar towards your abdomen, bring it up high towards your face.

When you pull the bar should almost end up touching your chin or neck. Squeeze this contraction for a second and slowly release the weight for about another 2-3 seconds back to the starting position before performing the next rep. The goal here is to full and slowly engage the rear deltoids with the traps in the upper back with each row.

Take Home Message

These simple and few exercises may seem very basic, as they should, but these are some of the best exercises you can perform if you wish to grow bigger deltoids or shoulders. Focus on lowering the weight load you can use and use a strict form with each exercise. Increase the number of repetitions and sets you are performing and decrease your rest time. By increasing the overall amount of time under tension you apply to your shoulders during your workout, you’re guaranteed to see results in shoulder growth due to properly engaging the entire deltoid region.

On a shoulder press, avoid leaning back so you don’t turn the shoulder press into a chest press. On a row, don’t pull too low so that you are engaging the back as much, if not more, than the rear deltoids. Lighten the weight load and performing higher reps. Don’t lighten the weight load just to do the same workout, increase the intensity with higher reps and your shoulders will grow in a faster period of time.

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Logan Berman

Logan Berman

Writer and expert

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