If you’re looking for the perfect V-taper physique, then a set of boulder shoulders is essential for the look!
There are numerous ways to hit your shoulders but remembering to hit all the heads of the deltoid is most important for shoulder health and growth. Many exercises get thrown by the wayside but need to be brought back to the forefront to get some super-sized boulder-shoulders!
1. Dumbbell Arnold Press
Created by the man, the myth, the legend himself, the Arnold Press combines the pressing movement of the conventional shoulder press as well as including a partial side lateral raise.
By working the anterior head as well as the lateral head, this exercise is a must to include into your routine.
a) Start by setting up a bench at 90 degree angle so back is supported.
b) Grab a set of dumbbells and start in position with weights at chin level with palms facing the torso.
c) Start the movement by pressing upwards, keeping the weight tight and close to the torso.
d) Rotate the hands externally while moving the weight in an arcing motion- finishing with hands overhead as if in a traditional shoulder press movement.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 8-12
TOP TIP: Don’t lock out at the top of the movement - keep constant tension on the deltoid by stopping the movement about ¾ of the way up the movement, hold for a 2 count and lower the weight slowly.
2. Barbell Standing Shoulder Press
People tend to shy away from exercises requiring them to lift weight above their head mainly because of fear or doubt...Don’t sweat it!
Drop your ego off at the door and put this timeless movement into your next shoulder workout.
a) Set up a barbell in the squat rack as if you are preparing for a front squat.
b) Have hands shoulder-width apart and un-rack weight keeping it up on your upper chest.
c) Press the weight up overhead and slightly back to where your head is in front of the weight.
d) Stopping just before the elbows lock out, lower the weight slowly back down to the starting position.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 8-10
TOP TIP: Looking to switch it up? Try doing this movement behind the head or even using a more explosive movement by doing a push jerk or even split push jerk.
3. One Arm Incline Lateral Raise
To really add to the width of the deltoid muscle, you must work the lateral head. Having a great lateral head will give the illusion of a super wide set of shoulders.
Hit this exercise for a more isolated version of a dumbbell side raise.
a) Set up incline bench at a 45 degree angle and lay on your side with dumbbell in hand:
If you're starting off heavy, ensure to position yourself lower and press shoulder firmly against bench for stability - your arm should lie across your torso.
b) Exhale and raise the weight up to where it is perpendicular to your torso - performing a lateral raise (keep arm parallel to floor.)
c) Squeeze at the top - really feel the contraction in the shoulder for 1-2 seconds.
d) Inhale and slowly begin to lower the weight back across your body to return to the starting position, ready to switch arms and repeat (finish set on each arm.)
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10-12
TOP TIP: To tie in the rear delt to this movement, lower the weight in front of you and contract with the weight at the top of movement behind you.
4. Posterior Rear Delt Cable Fly
The posterior deltoid or rear deltoid as many refer to it as is a highly neglected muscle group, especially within the shoulder muscle. People that have shoulder pain or unstable shoulders usually are due to unbalanced shoulder development.
Doing shoulder presses and lateral raises are the exercises most gym-goers hit when they think shoulder mainly because they can see these muscles being worked. Hitting the rear delts will not only improve shoulder stability and help combat shoulder pain, but will also give you well-rounded shoulders... check it out below!
a) Set up this movement by adjusting the pulleys and weight to preference (above head.)
b) Grab the pulley's with alternate hands - left pulley, right hand - right pulley, left hand - prepare to cross them in front of your body.
c) Positioning in front of your body, move arms back and out, retracting scapula on squeeze - try not to let you lats/traps do the work and really focus on the rear delt- even if this means going a lot lighter.
d) Squeeze and pause before slowly returning cables to starting position.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 10-12
TOP TIP: Instead of using the handle attachments for the cables, simply just grab a hold of the cable itself allowing your hands to be pronated for better rear delt contraction.
5. Clean and Press
Looking for a way to burn up some calories and finish a workout hard? The clean and press will exhaust you to where you have nothing left in the tank!
Targeting the rear delts/traps with the clean as well as anterior delts with the press, this is another must-do shoulder exercise!
a) With a shoulder width stance (knees inside arms) bend at the knees all the way down to the floor and, keeping the back flat, pick up barbell with a slightly wider pronated grip to where the starting position is bar at mid-shin.
b) Assuming with positioning - the bar should be fairly close to the shins with elbows pointing out to the sides. Ensure to position your shoulders slightly over the bar.
c) Keeping your back flat, begin to pull the bar as high as possible by extending the knees and raising your shoulders - making sure that the bar remains close to your body throughout.
d) Extend at the ankles and knees before driving the force through the hips to shrug the bar as high as possible, cleaning the weight with your body underneath the bar.
e) With the weight at chest-level, simultaneously jump and exhale whilst press the weight up overhead and finish with weight slightly behind torso for maximum extension.
Sets and Reps: 3 x 10-12
TOP TIP: Keeping your elbows tucked and the weight close to the body will help with maximum output as well as injury prevention.
Take Home Message
These shoulder movements should be something that you throw into your current shoulder routine from novice lifters to pro bodybuilders.
Sticking to the basics and being consistent is what will give you the best results.