Best shoulder workout routine

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What is the best shoulder workout routine? A definite answer that can come up when you are looking for such a shoulder training routine is one that incorporates compound exercises, meaning exercises that will not only target your shoulders, but will also target other muscle groups.

When you are engaging in compound exercises, these exercises will require you to use more than one muscle group when performing them, which means you will naturally be able to push more weight = muscle overload = muscle growth.

Another thing that you will need to look for when devising a good shoulder workout routine are exercises where you can single out individual shoulder heads such as side laterals for the side deltoid and rear laterals for the rear deltoid.

Often when an inspiring bodybuilder wants to develop that awe-inspiring look of broad shoulders’ comes down to two different approaches that can give that bodybuilder a definite wide shoulder appearance.

One is developing a wide back which comes from doing exercises like the wide grip chins and lat pull downs will develop wide lats giving you an appearance of a wide back, and the other is developing large shoulders’ which will help with giving an awe-inspiring appearance of broad shoulders’.

The combination of building a wide back and large shoulders’ have always been two manly attributes that aspiring bodybuilders have always been looking to develop, Today we will be taking a look at how you can develop a sound shoulder training routine that will definitely give you a broad shoulder appearance.

Dumbbell presses
Dumbbell presses for building big shoulders

What are some good compound exercises for developing big shoulders’?

Barbell presses

Barbell overhead presses (millitary presses) have always been one of the old reliables that many bodybuilders have always depended on over the years to develop large (anterior) front deltoids.

Barbell presses are a definite great exercise and a compound exercise which will not only put direct effort onto your front (anterior) deltoids but will also include some activation on your side (medial) deltoid, chest, and triceps.

Behind the neck presses

Behind the neck presses are another excellent exercise that are basically doing the same thing and revolving around the same concept as barbell presses, the difference between these two exercises is the standard barbell presses you are pressing the weight from your chest overhead, and the behind the neck presses are just as they sound, you are pressing the weight overhead from the back of your neck upwards.

Upright rows

Upright rows have been a great exercise for mostly directing an assault to the side, (medial) head of your deltoids and will also incorporate some front (anterior) deltoid work as well as biceps and forearms.

For aspiring bodybuilders that are looking for compound exercises that will work the back (posterior) head of the deltoid, many back training exercises such as wide grip chains, barbell rows, T-bar rows, lat pull downs and various other pull-down and rowing exercises that work the back will also give you plenty of rear deltoid development.

Great isolation exercises that you can use to really bring out your shoulders’

listed below are three great isolation exercises that will target all three heads of your deltoids and all three exercises can all be done with dumbbells.

Front laterals

Front laterals are an isolation exercise where you start out with the weight at arms length in front of you and raise the weight directly out in front of you while keeping minimal bend in your elbows.

This exercise can be done and is most commonly done with dumbbells, but can also be incorporated using a barbell, and either way you perform them, whether you do them with dumbbells or a barbell will work great wonders for the front head of your deltoids.

Include dumbbells in your workouts
Dumbbells are a great way to add musculature to your shoulders

Side laterals

Side laterals are a great exercise most commonly done with dumbbells that can also be incorporated with cables. This is an exercise that will target the side of your deltoids and give your shoulders’ a wide appearance.

Side laterals can be done either sitting or standing, either way is just fine when performing them. You will start out holding the weight with your arms at your sides and palms in, raise the weights out to your sides keeping a minimal bend in the elbow until you bring your arms straight out to your sides.

The purpose for keeping a minimal bend in your elbows is to take tension off your elbows and direct that tension as much as possible to your side deltoids, and keeping a slight bend in your elbows will enable you to use a little more weight than if you had your arms completely straight.

Rear laterals

Rear laterals can be done either with dumbbells or with cables, but my typical preference when performing either front, side or rear laterals is to use dumbbells because they will work better for developing overall muscle mass than using cables.

Incorporating cables into your weight training is more for giving you a good finishing pump after you have performed the heavier muscle building exercises earlier in your training routine when you have the highest energy levels.

When performing the rear laterals, these can be done either standing or sitting, my preference is to do them sitting where I am forced to put more direct emphasis on the rear head of my deltoids instead of involving my legs to force the weight up, aka cheating as performed when standing.

To perform the rear laterals, first start out in a position where you are bent slightly forward with your arms extending downward holding the weights, raise your arms straight out to the side.

When you are in this position bent forward bringing the weights out to the side, you are in fact extending your arms in-back of you directing the emphasis onto the rear head of your deltoids.

Upright rows with barbell
Upright rows are a great compound exercise for developing big shoulders.

A technique to put some drive behind your punch

A good technique to really put some drive behind your punch, speaking in terms of getting an incredible muscle pump is to incorporate a compound exercise, such as the barbell presses completed to failure followed by a set of the front laterals completed to failure.

When you are incorporating these two exercises back-to-back, both exercises are in fact working the front head of the deltoid. The concept behind this approach is much similar to the stripping method, or in reference to dumbbells would be down the rack.

What is the stripping method?

An example of the stripping method could be performed for example with barbell upright rows. First you would start out performing a set of the upright rows where you would do 12 reps to failure followed by stripping a couple of plates off the bar and immediately doing another set with the lighter weight for as many reps as possible.

Down the rack

Another approach that can be followed in the same manner except using dumbbells is to do a system called down the rack. For example, you could start out with a set of side laterals with a pair of 35 lb dumbbells going to failure, then immediately pick up a pair of 30 lb dumbbells and do side laterals with them until failure and so on until you have completed your sets.

This approach where you perform a set of military presses to failure followed immediately by a set of front laterals is basically following the same concept. You are starting out with a set of heavy overhead presses which are a compound exercise.

After you have finished that to failure immediately move on to doing an isolation exercise such as the front laterals which will enable you to further stress the front head of the deltoid until you are getting a complete burning sensation in the front of your deltoids.

This same approach can be followed with other exercises such as the upright rows with side laterals and wide- grip chins with rear laterals.

Putting it all together

When it comes to putting a good shoulder routine together, nine times out of ten you are interested in developing muscle mass and if you are reading this post, it’s likely that you have been interested in developing a muscular pair of shoulders’ but are looking for a better route to developing a sound program.

The best way to start putting things all together is to incorporate compound exercises at the beginning of your workout when your energy levels are the highest and following up with isolation moves.

If you are interested in putting the idea that I laid out above into action like putting some drive into your punch, naturally you will be pairing compound exercises with isolation exercises, but make sure that you are doing the compound exercise first and then follow up with the isolation exercise.

For developing muscle size, shoot for 10-15 sets and 8-12 repetitions per set. Work your shoulders’ two times per week letting them recover 72 hours between workouts. An approach that I do is work shoulders’ and back together, this way you will be able to do rowing exercises that will also work the rear deltoids.

Next I have a shoulder training routine laid out that will be putting some drive into your punch and will definitely get your shoulders’ burning.

  • Military presses immediately followed by front laterals-3 super sets, 8-12 reps and do as many reps as you can with front laterals.
  • Upright rows immediately followed by side laterals-3 super sets, 8-12 reps and do as many reps as you can with side laterals.
  • Wide grip chins immediately followed by rear laterals-3 super sets, 8-12 reps and do as many reps as you can with rear laterals.
Wide grip chins for back
Wide grip chins for back also work the rear deltoids

You can change this routine around by alternating military presses with the press behind the neck or dumbbell presses.

Upright rows with a barbell can be alternated with dumbbell upright rows and wide grip chins can be alternated with virtually any back training exercise.

For variation, you can alternate any of the dumbbell laterals with cable laterals. You can do any shoulder exercise to match your preference, but always start your super sets off with compound exercises because compound training burns up more energy.

It will be difficult to effectively perform compound exercises after you have burned up your energy with isolation exercises.

Lat pull-downs for back
Lat pull-downs for back also work the rear deltoids


If you follow with this training program to a T, you should be able to accomplish some pretty amazing results. Remember that amazing results never happen overnight and to see great results will be a product of hard work and dedication sticking with a solid training program.

In order to receive the best results possible, you will need to make sure that you are hitting the weights hard, working your shoulders’ no more than two times per week and make sure that you are allowing 72 hours of rest between shoulder training sessions.

Make sure that you get an ample amount of sleep each night, at least a minimum of eight hours per night and eat a healthy diet filled with plenty of lean protein such as chicken, eggs, fish, tuna, milk, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

These are all great examples of lean protein for a healthy and nutritious muscle building diet. On another note, when building muscle it is a good idea to follow a supplementation regimen.

For information on a supplementation product, you can click on this link and visit one of my product reviews on protein supplementation.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below and I will be sure to get back to you as soon as possible.


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