Probably, shoulders are the most widely used muscle in your upper body. They are involved in almost every action that you perform and can do almost 360 degrees of rotation. A broad, thick set of shoulders looks impressive and enhances your sex appeal in the eyes of ladies.
Shoulders are prominent muscles that so many people try to build up, but majority of them can’t seem to develop a thick, well-balanced set of shoulders.
Are you one of those who put in lot of efforts, poured many hours of time and loads of sweat in trying to build-up muscles, but only to be disappointed. Keep reading and we will figure out the reasons behind all this! You will see although it requires a lot of work – the right work with patience, but it can be done. And this article is going to show you how?
In this article below, I will discuss anatomy of shoulder, its function, it’s location in the body, and some exercises for each area of the shoulders to build their size and strength.
Understanding Shoulder – Deltoids
(i) Anterior Head / Deltoids:
(a) Function: Flexion, Medial Rotation
(b) Location: Front portion of the shoulder girdle
(c) Exercise: Barbell Shoulder Press
(ii) Middle Head / Deltoids:
(a) Function: Abduction
(b) Location: Middle/Side of the shoulder
(c) Exercise: Dumbbell Side Laterals
(iii) Posterior Head / Deltoids:
(a) Function: Extension, Lateral Rotation
(b) Location: Back of the shoulder
(c) Exercise: Bent Over Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise With Head On Bench
Make sure to work on to develop all the three heads of this muscle to get best results. In majority of the cases, the medial and posterior deltoids require more work because the anterior deltoids do get trained to some extent in a good chest workout. Chest workout doesn’t sufficiently train the other two deltoid heads though.
Mistakes You Should Avoid In Shoulder Muscle Building Workout
(i) Depending Too Much On Machines And Isolation Exercises: If you want to build big shoulder muscles, don’t focus much on machines and isolation workouts.
(ii) Aiming Too Much On High-Rep Workouts: Contrary to general belief, my personal experience is this approach inhibits growth of every major muscle group in your body, and especially not of much use in developing smaller muscle group such as shoulders.
I know the above two factors are contrary to what you have been hearing. But that’s my experience and I do encourage you to try my approach. I used to do every shoulder machine in the gym with lower weights and higher reps, but never had good results.
I will tell you the secret that I have learnt about strength training and building muscles is to focus on compound exercises and heavy weights (about 80% of 1RM or a little more) will give you improved results.
And when you apply this approach to workout the shoulders, it means a great deal of heavy barbell and dumbbell pressing with supplementary work for the side and rear deltoids.
Strategy To Build Bigger Shoulder Muscles
1. Aim at lifting heavy weights in your shoulder training with 8 to 10 reps range.
2. Select those shoulder exercises that safely allow for progressive overload. The logic is simple you need to continue adding weight to the bar over time, in order to continue to get bigger muscles.
Total Fitness Tips:
(i) Put less emphasis on those exercises which don’t allow you to heavy lifting and progressive overload such as upright rows (enhance the risk of shoulder injury) and behind the neck presses. Behind-the-neck presses are tricky too.
(ii) Heavy weights mean fewer reps in a week, as you will need more recovery – that means you can’t do as many every week without risking overtraining.
(iii) I recommend following split and frequency: 80 to 85% + of 1RM with about 60 to 70 reps preformed a week.
Note: You can apply this general rule not only to shoulders but also to every other major muscle group as well.
Best Shoulder Exercises To Gain Big Shoulder Strength And Muscles
Like any other muscle groups, there are number of shoulder exercises you can workout, but out of all those we have carefully chosen following seven exercises that all you need to build strong, full, and functional shoulders:
1. Seated Or Standing Military Press: Barbell and Dumbbell pressing are the best way to build your shoulders because although it primarily involves the anterior head of the deltoid, but it also develops the other two (medial and posterior deltoids), and they let you use heavy weight without risking injury.
Both the above presses give you almost similar results, but practically speaking the dumbbell military press has a slight edge over the barbell press.
As in the case of bench press, dumbbell and barbell pressing are complementary and so I recommend you to include both in your workout program. Both demand strength and stability, so both give good results.
Military Press Variations – Standing Vs. Seated:
Try them both and you will observe that the standing military press (also known as the overhead press) is harder than the seated. And harder workout generally gives better results. It is generally said the standing presses (both dumbbell and barbell) propel the shoulder muscles a little better than their seated counterparts. That is why many well-versed fitness trainers say the standing press is the superior option. Also in terms of whole-body training, there’s no doubt that the standing press is superior.
However, the standing military press has two downsides that you should know:
(i) Your 1RM will be lower.
(ii) It is slightly more risk-prone when you’re trying to move heavy weights (80%+ of 1RM).
While doing it, you will notice, the standing press puts much more stress on the lower back and core than the seated press – meaning you can’t lift as much heavy weight and above that you’ll be likely to get more injury, especially when your form is not in order.
These drawbacks are particularly there in case of the standing dumbbell press, which actually doesn’t let itself to heavy pressing.
I personally prefer the seated military press (barbell and dumbbell) because of my old age, and moreover the deadlifting and squatting workout that I do twice a week are enough for my core and back muscles.
Here’s how to do the seated barbell military press correctly:
And here’s how to do the dumbbell press properly:
Here’s how to properly do the standing barbell military press:
And here is how to do the standing dumbbell press correctly:
2. Arnold Press: The Arnold press is a variation of the traditional dumbbell press that increases the range of motion.
Here’s how to do it:
3. Dumbbell Front Raise: The dumbbell front raise is an effective workout that focus on the anterior deltoid.
Here’s how to do it:
4. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise: The dumbbell side lateral raise is the most effective workout for developing the medial (middle) deltoid. It’s necessary to focus on this part of deltoid to keep up balance with the anterior head. Pressing alone any of these two won’t get you a good finish.
Here’s how to do it:
As your increase the weight over time, you may find it difficult to maintain proper form while trying to lift both dumbbells simultaneously. If so is the case with you, an effective way out would be to do a hanging variant of this exercise:
5. Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise: The posterior (rear) deltoid is the smallest and weakest of the three deltoid heads, the shoulders, which is often neglected.
You need to workout your rear deltoid, so that your shoulder is developed into “three-dimensional” shoulder that doesn’t fall completely flat in the back. Dumbbell rear lateral raise is most effective for this.
Here’s how to do it:
You can also do a standing variation of this exercise:
6. Barbell Rear Deltoid Row: This is another great workout for focusing the posterior deltoids.
Here’s how to do it:
7. Face Pull: The face pull is most effective workout a for targeting both the posterior deltoids and the rotator cuff muscles.
Here’s how it’s done:
Total Fitness Tips: The key, however, isn’t just doing the above exercises, but doing them with progressive weight loads for getting better muscle growth.
That is, increasing the amount of weight you can handle over time.
Just Fitness Tips:
(i) Make sure to use the weights progressively. For example, if you do 10 reps on your first set of the military press, add further 5 pounds to each side of the bar for your second set and another 5 pounds again on each side for the third set.
(ii) Wait for 1 minute in between each set to get enough rest. It enables your muscles to fully recover so that you can put in maximum efforts during every set.
(iii) Always intake good balanced diet. We all know importance of high protein intake to gain muscles, but the carbs / calories also play a major role.
Enjoy your workout!