The best shoulder exercises for mass


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.


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