According to some gym-goers, the shoulders are one body part that can’t ever get too big. When you think of an ancient Greek god, or even a sports figure, you think of big broad shoulders that can carry the weight of anything. On a modern physique, it symbolizes how serious a lifter you are.
Working them correctly can be tough and a weak point for many, so follow this workout to get the most out of your next shoulder session.
1. Seated Side Lateral Raises
To ultimately build some width in your delt region, the lateral part of the deltoid is a crucial part to hit as hard as possible. But what many fail to do is to lift the weight with the correct muscles. This is where the traps tend to come into play rather than allowing the deltoids to move the weight. Performing these seated force you to lower the weight and takes out all the momentum. Keep it strict and tight and feel the burn.
- On a flat bench, grab a set of dumbbells slightly lighter than you would normally perform lateral raises
- Keeping the shoulder blades down and back, raise the weight up to shoulder height with straight arms
- Turn the pinkies up at the top of the movement and squeeze for a 2 second count at the top, then slowly lower the weight.
Sets and Reps: 5 X 12-15
Top Tip: Keeping your lats flexed throughout the movement will help you to better isolate the delts and keep the work from being placed upon your traps.
2. Push Presses
Similar to the conventional shoulder press, this move incorporates a little more core and stability work. You’ll be able to jump under the weight on this lift enabling you to completely overload he muscle and put some stress and load on your delts that you normally wouldn’t be able to achieve.
- Start out with bar in front rack position with elbows out in front of you
- Keep the scapula pulled down and back, begin to press the weight up to the top
- While pressing up, sink your hips a bit and jump under the weight to really power through the movement
- Slowly lower back down to front rack position
Sets and Reps: 4 x 8-10
3. Rope Face-Pulls
Face pulls are an excellent way to balance you physique as well as regulating the overall balance of the shoulder joint. With all the pressing movements being done on a normal shoulder day, this can sometimes cause rounded shoulders and even impingement like syndromes. Break out of the mold of just doing rear raises with dumbbells and out this one to the test.
- Set up rope attachment on high cable pulley machine
- Kneel on one leg then pull the weight right in front of your face.
- Use the scapula and the rotator cuff muscles in this movement to help you pull back with more force and torque.
Sets and Reps: 4 x 15-18
Top Tip: Finish with your hands as far back as possible on this lift but ultimately force the work to be done with the shoulders, not your arms.
4. Cuban Presses
Similar to a conventional shoulder press, the Cuban press incorporates the rotator cuff as one of the primary muscles worked in this exercise. Since the rotator cuff seems to be a weak link in so many lifters’ shoulders, this will help to overload these tiny little muscles with more weight than they are used to hitting in isolation movements.
- Set up with a pair of dumbbells lighter than what you would normally use on a regular shoulder press movement
- Start by performing a similar-looking upright row with the dumbbells using the traps to pull weight up and the rotator cuff muscles to pull the weight over the shoulder
- Press the weight up and slowly return to the starting position
Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-14
Take Home Message
Follow this shoulder routine if you feel your shoulders are dragging and even incorporate this as a second shoulder session for the week. Remember that the constant tension, stretch and contraction is what builds muscle- not necessarily moving heavier weight without feeling the mind-muscle connection.