The best shoulder exercises for mass

Muscular development


There are many incentives behind a person’s reason for weight training, but the idea behind this post is to give you an idea of the best shoulder exercises for mass and muscular development for those who are interested in developing muscle size to their frame.

There are many great exercises that a person can include in their weight training program, but some exercises are better than others for developing muscle size. Today we are going to take a look at some top shoulder exercises for doing just that.

What determines exactly what are the best exercises for developing the shoulders? Generally what comes to mind are performing compound exercises which involves exercises where you are incorporating more than one muscle group at a time.

Compound exercises are great for developing muscular size because they involve more than one muscle group at a time which means that you can push more weight. They are also a great way to help speed up your metabolism so that you can efficiently burn more calories and develop a stronger heart while performing this type of training.

Although compound exercises are the best way to build quality muscle size, I don’t recommend that you neglect other exercises that do a great job of isolating specific heads for the shoulders like front laterals for the anterior head, side laterals for the medial head and rear laterals for the posterior deltoid head.

Next we are going to take a look at some top exercises for developing the shoulders and I will outline precisely what area of the shoulder they work and what other muscle groups are involved. It will also include how many sets and reps you should perform, and overall sets for your shoulder workout.

Military presses

First of all, when I start out performing the military presses, I start out with a lighter weight so that I can warm up the muscles and joints to avoid injury. To get a thorough warm-up in, you may need to perform two or three warm-up sets before you start engaging in heavier presses.

You’re breathing process when performing the military presses should be exhaling out as you are pressing the weight overhead and inhaling as you are returning the weight back to the starting position.

Once you have completed between two to three sets of the military presses with a lighter weight, your shoulders should be warmed up by this point. Next you will want to gradually increase the weight with each set as you move along.

Another good point to make is it is a good idea to have a pre-workout supplement or pre-workout beverage to give you an extra boost of energy so that you can make the most of your training and I lift heavier which will result in better muscle gains.

Once you have completed 2 to 3 warm-up sets and you are progressing further into your regular sets of the military presses where you are increasing in weight each set, you will want to make it a point to rest approximately 60 seconds between sets so that you can regain enough strength in between sets to push to your max.

You will also want to make it a point to not rest for too short of a period in between sets as you will not recover your strength enough, you don’t want to exceed a minute by too long or you will start to lose your pump and your attention will start to diminish on your perspective of where you are at in your mind/muscle stimulation.

You should ultimately shoot for performing four sets of the military presses and doing between 8 to 12 repetitions per set.

Military presses work the deltoids but more precisely the front head of the deltoid and some medial deltoid stimulation. Other muscles involved include the chest, latissimus dorsi, traps and triceps.

  • Sets / 4
  • reps / 8-12

Upright rows

Once you have completed the military presses, your shoulders should be thoroughly warmed up enough where once you move on to the upright rows you can continue engaging in heavier training with a weight that you can perform between 8 to 12 repetitions.

When performing the upright rows, you will want to exhale as you are lifting the weight and inhale as you are lowering the weight. Start with your arms at a length down to your sides keeping a shoulder width grip and raise the weight so that the bar touches the underside of your chin.

You will want to perform this exercise in a slow and controlled manner using a weight that you feel comfortable enough performing while keeping good strict form and full range of motion, yet still enough weight where you are only able to do 8 to 12 repetitions, if you can do more than 12 reps, you will need to adjust the weight higher.

I would recommend that you follow a rule of four sets of upright rows and 8 to 12 repetitions.

Muscles involved in this exercise include the medial head of the deltoid, biceps and traps.

  • Sets / 4
  • reps / 8-12

Wide grip chins

Generally when you think of performing the wide grip chins, you think of back training. Wide grip chins are an excellent exercise for developing the back, but they also work the rear deltoids and there is a lot of rear deltoid that comes into play when performing the wide grip chins.

When performing the wide grip chins, start with your palms facing away from you and approximately 6 in 8 inches wider than shoulder-width.

There are many back training exercises that involve the rear deltoids including barbell rows, t-bar rows, cable rows and dumbbell rows. All of these exercises greatly involve the rear deltoid and if you give this idea a shot, you can alternate with any of the other various back exercises that involve rear deltoids.

Many bodybuilders switch their training around frequently to keep their training fresh and avoid their workouts from growing stale. Many bodybuilders might train shoulders and back together and then switch to training shoulders and traps together the next month.

Be Never afraid to frequently change your workouts around where you perform different exercises from one week to the next and train different body parts together. This can help with increasing your muscular development and increases in strength.

For the wide grip chins, you should follow a rule of performing 4-5 sets, also shoot for doing 8-12 repetitions per set. If you have a hard time knocking out 8 to 12 repetitions with the wide grip chins, you can get a spotter to assist you. If you have a spotter, make sure that they assist you under the knee and not by the ankles.

If a spotter assists you by lifting up on your ankles or feet, this can possibly cause you to lose good form, it is always best to be assisted under the knees.

There are other ways that you can do assisted wide grip chins other than having a spotter, some people use an elastic strap that they hang over the chinning bar and hook under their knee. Another way is to do your wide grip chins by holding on to a weight bar inside a squat rack while resting your heels on the back of an incline bench.

Muscles included in this exercise include the latissimus dorsi, biceps, traps and rear deltoids.

  • Sets / 4-5
  • reps / 8-12

Bonus exercise, traps (barbell shrugs)

Often, bodybuilders include traps in their shoulder training routines because traps tie in nicely with shoulders and when performing the king of trap developing exercises like barbell shrugs, they will also have a nice amount of shoulder action when doing the shrugs.

Barbell shrugs are a great exercise for working the traps because you can pile on the weight and there is no other exercise that will target the traps like the barbell shrugs do.

There are different variations to this exercise and each way can target your traps in a slightly different way. The most common way to do the barbell shrugs is using a shoulder width grip with the palms of your hands facing in back of you. If you want to add some serious size to your traps, the standard version of the barbell shrugs is definitely the way to go.

Muscles included when doing barbell shrugs are trapezious, neck and shoulders.

  • sets / 4-5
  • reps / 8-12

Below I have a list of the various different versions of shrugs, and it wouldn’t hurt to give all of these versions a try from time to time, after all, variety is the key to keeping your workouts fresh and exciting.

Alternate exercises

For each of these exercises that I have put in this post. There are other good alternate exercises that you can perform for each one given. Instead of performing the same exercises, even though they may be one of the best choices for building muscle, it is still a good idea to add plenty of variety to your workouts.

Compound exercises are best for building size and strength, but if you include isolation exercises like front laterals, side laterals and rear laterals, you won’t be able to lift the kind of weight that you can with compound exercises, but you will be able to single out each individual head of your deltoids and get better muscle stimulation

Good alternate exercises for the military presses could be presses behind the neck with barbell, dumbbell presses, Arnold presses and machine presses. Try not to limit your range of variety with exercises, if there are other variations of overhead pressing exercises, by all means include them in your training program.

Good alternate exercises for the upright rows with a barbell would be upright rows with dumbbells, machine upright rows and cable upright rows. Other good alternatives for the wide grip chins, I have listed above.

It’s great to keep a consistent variety of exercises in your workouts, but to keep consistent progress with muscle growth, it’s best to do your compound training at the beginning of your workouts when you have the most energy because compound exercises will require more energy than isolation exercises.


Shoulder training has always been one of my favorite body parts to train because there are a wide range of exercises that you can perform in your training. When you set up a training routine, try not to follow precisely to these three exercises that I have laid out, it is a good idea to switch your exercises around and perform different ones from work out to work out.

For maximum results in your shoulder development, you will want to consistently push as hard as you can and get in shoulder training sessions twice per week. Shoot for 8 to 12 reps in good form and use enough weight where 8 to 12 reps is a challenge and you can’t do any more than 12 reps per set. If you can do more than 12 reps per set, it is time to increase the weight.

Another great way to achieve good results is to have a training partner assist and push you to your limits each workout so there are no reps to spare and no excuses to make, all you will see is great gains and a feeling of self accomplishment.

To help with increasing your muscular development, it is a good idea to supplement your diet with a trusted protein supplementation product along with a clean diet of lean meat and fresh fruits and vegetables.

To get a good idea on a trusted protein supplementation product, you can click on this link here.

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


Please follow and like us:

Build big shoulders-with dumbbells

Bodybuilding for size

You can build big shoulders with dumbbells in the gym or at home, all you need is a set of dumbbells. They don’t take up much room and they’re easy to store if you work out at home.

Developing muscular shoulders can’t go unseen very well, especially when you wear a tank top. A well-developed set of shoulders can stand out on the beach or anywhere spectators may pass by and gaze at your set of shoulders and dream of having an impressive muscular build that you do.

There can be a lot of enjoyment out of training shoulders because there is a wide range of exercises that you can do, and you don’t need a gym to train shoulders. Quite often I do my entire workouts just with a pair of dumbbells.

For this type of shoulder training, you not only need a pair of dumbbells, but you can also do similar workouts with kettle bells. Today’s subject we will be talking about weight training with dumbbells and how you can arrange your workouts with a versatile style of exercises just with dumbbells.

Why dumbbells?

Training heavy has always been a mainstay of bodybuilding. Generally where heavy training is perceived, most bodybuilders go about training heavy incorporating barbells, this gives them the ability to train heavier.

When incorporating dumbbells, a person is not able to train as heavy as they can with barbells, but the advantage with using dumbbells is you can get to a wider range with your exercises and you can also accomplish twisting and rotating your hands to achieve a further range of motion to develop the muscle.

There are other variations to dumbbell exercises that you can achieve with other equipment most commonly found in gyms such as upper and lower cable systems and kettle bells.

For example, you can imitate the dumbbell side lateral with a lower cable weight machine. Often gyms have weight machines that you can attach a single grip handle to a lower pulley and replicate the side lateral.

Often you can find gyms that have these low and high cable pulley system machines positioned where you will have one on each side of you and ,you can replicate the side laterals with both hands at once, you can also do the same with rear laterals.

Other typical dumbbell shoulder exercises that you can replicate with a low pulley system and a short handle attachment are the upright rows and the front laterals.

There are always other various options you can do with other equipment, but the advantage of using dumbbells is your range of motion and your ability to do a wide variety of exercises targeting all muscle groups with minimal equipment that can be done in your own home.



Training heavy

Take a look at many of the top bodybuilders today, how do you see them training, most of the time you see them pumping out heavy weights with barbells. Barbells give you the ability to accommodate a heavier working load which will induce muscle stimulation to a greater degree.

That’s why all those power lifting moves you see like the bench press, squat, dead lift, snatch and clean and jerk are always performed with a barbell.

These exercises can be performed with dumbbells, but you won’t be able to lift as much and you won’t achieve the same stability performing these exercises with dumbbells as you would with a barbell.

Barbells will give you greater muscle stimulation than dumbbells when it comes to your overall working load, “how much you can lift”, but dumbbells will give you a greater muscle stimulation when it comes to versatility in motion and a wider range of targeted muscle development through targeted angels.

An example of versatility in motion is the Arnold press. To develop the front head of the shoulder, “anterior head”, to achieve the greatest amount of weight pressed overhead, you would need to do the military presses or the press behind the neck.

To get a wider range of motion by a slight rotation to the hands, you can do the dumbbell presses. When you perform the Arnold press, your hands make a 180° turn while the Arnold press is in motion.

An example of a wider range of targeted muscle development through targeted angels would be the rear laterals. The rear laterals target the rear head of the shoulder, aka “posterior head”.

There are barbell exercises that will have a degree of negative impact on the posterior deltoid, basically any exercise you do for your back will have some effect on the posterior deltoid.

In order to work the posterior deltoid to a 100% execution level, it is necessary to perform the rear laterals. This is another relevant form for keying in full muscular development through incorporating dumbbells.

Is versatility the key?

Can you build a well-developed set of shoulders with one or two exercises? You can develop your shoulders to a degree and you will no doubt achieve a muscle pump which will feel good and probably lead you to believe that you are doing something positive towards having a future set of developed deltoids.

But in all reality, your deltoids will not have a balanced look, they will lack in appeal, especially if you are involved in body shows, and if one area of your body is under- developed, it can result in a weak link and possible injury in the future.

So when we are talking about versatility, what exactly is meant? Training versatility could mean training at different times, frequencies or duration. But to be more precise, I am talking about targeting a specific muscle group with a wide variety of angels and training systems.

There are three heads to the deltoid, first there is the front, “anterior head” of the deltoid which is worked through doing overhead pressing exercises and front laterals. This region is also negatively impacted by other exercises like the bench press.

Second is the side head of the deltoid, “medial head”. This region of the deltoid comes into play when raising your arms out to their sides as in doing any form of the side laterals, either done with dumbbells, kettle bells or low cable systems.

Another exercise that will target the medial head of the deltoid is the upright rows. Upright rows can be accomplished either with barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, low cable systems, or anything of an adequate amount of weight and with a little imagination.

An advantage to performing the upright rows with dumbbells is a little tweak to your wrists. When holding the dumbbells at arm’s length down, your palm’s will be facing inwards, “palm’s towards your thighs”.

Keep the outside of the weight high and the inside of the weight tipped slightly lower, doing this and keeping a shoulder width grip will help to target your medial deltoid to a fuller degree.

Third is the rear head of the deltoid, “posterior head”. This head of the deltoid is targeted through doing rear laterals. You will also achieve some posterior deltoid activity through performing rowing exercises when training back.

Training systems

One of the most common training systems that I believe works great with doing shoulders is tri-sets.

Tri-sets are when you perform three exercises back-to-back with no rest between each exercise, between tri-sets you will rest a minimum of 60 seconds, no longer than 90 seconds.

What I find works the best is when you set up the format of your tri-sets, is to have one exercise target your anterior head, a second exercise target your medial head and the third exercise target your posterior deltoid.

Example 1 tri-set

  1. Dumbbell presses /front deltoid
  2. Side laterals, palm’s down/side deltoid
  3. Rear laterals, palm’s down/rear deltoid

Example 2 tri-set

  1. Arnold press/front deltoid
  2. Side laterals, palm’s up/side deltoid
  3. Rear laterals, palm’s back/rear deltoid

*The first exercise for either example can be alternated with front laterals.

*The second exercise for either example can be alternated with upright rows.

After you do 5 tri-sets of 3 exercises, this would be basically the same as doing 15 straight sets of the same exercises. Doing your shoulder training performed as tri-sets will reduce the duration of a workout but will increase the intensity.



A list of dumbbell exercises

Below is a list of the more common shoulder training exercises, as performed with dumbbells.

Frequency and volume

Is frequency and volume important when it comes to training shoulders? Training frequency is how often each week you train a body part, volume is the duration of each workout, or how long you’re training session is per day.


In the example of this content, here is an idea that you can base you’re training schedule from, for your weekly shoulder training schedule.

*This is based on following a push-pull method


  • Sunday-rest day
  • Monday-chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Tuesday-thighs, calves and core
  • Wednesday-back, traps and biceps
  • Thursday-shoulders, chest and triceps
  • Friday-thighs, calves and core
  • Saturday-traps, back and biceps

In this example, you are giving your shoulders a minimum of 72 hours rest, or ‘three days’ in between training sessions.


The total volume of you’re training can be based on your actual weight-training session, and any cardio involved.

If you do an overall 15 sets for shoulders, this should take approximately 30 minutes. Based on this outline, below is an example of a typical push-muscle day and your overall training volume for that day.

  • 15 sets for shoulders/30 minutes
  • 15 sets for chest/30 minutes
  • 15 sets for triceps/30 minutes

Total- 1 1/2 hours + 30 minutes for cardio = 2 hours total volume

Many pro-athletes would take a program like this example and split it up into 2 training sessions per Lean bodybuilderday. 1, ‘one hour session’ in the morning and 1, ‘one hour session in the evening’.


This post should give you a pretty good idea of how to form a training routine and what it takes to build muscular shoulders.

Your own personal training program should be like your fingerprint, it should be your own, designed for your own specific needs and formulated around your goals.

If everyone’s training involved the same principles and the same tactics, it would be pretty easy to come up with a training program, just do what some other guy is doing, but everything isn’t always so straight forward.

Coming up with your own unique tailored training program is something that needs to fit your schedule, your own personal preference, you’re training style and last but not least is something that you are going to be happy with doing.

If you are not happy with what you are doing in the gym, it will affect your results and if you even stick with it.

I hope this information has been helpful to you and will guide you in coming up with a sound training program of your own that you will be proud of the results that can benefit you.

For further reading on supplementation, you can check out one of my reviews by going here.

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


Please follow and like us: