Some guys just have a hard time building those boulder-like shoulders that they desire. It seems like no matter how hard they push, they just aren’t getting the results they are looking for. Usually it’s not the effort that is the problem; it is the program.
What kind of program should you use for shoulders? Most people use a general style that starts with a compound exercise, next hits the side head, and then finishes off on the rear. It isn’t overly complex because many people feel that the chest and back workout does additional deltoid work so they don’t want to overtrain. That could actually be causing you to under-train.
This program is designed around a few simple ideas to make sure that the shoulders are hit firmly from all angles. The key to a nice set of shoulders is to put equal effort into all three heads to create an evenly rounded deltoid that looks like a set of cannonballs.
Wicked Shoulder Routine
- Incline Front Delt Raises – These are done with an incline bench raised to maximum height. You lean your chest and stomach against the bench for support and then perform front dumbbell raises. The idea of the bench is to eliminate all cheating and get a better range of motion. The slight angle on the incline means you will raise the weight higher than the shoulder without putting the same kind of stress on the joint as if you were straight up.
- Bent Cable Rear Delt Raises – Ideally you do these one at a time. The cable provides continual tension which helps with focus and attention to the muscle. Keep your head down and the elbow in a locked position during the motion; making the rear deltoid perform all the work.
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press – This is pretty straight forward. Either standing dumbbell presses or a Hammer Strength should press is ideal.
- Cable Side Laterals – Stand in the middle of a crossover station and grab the opposite pulley handles so the wires cross each other as you lift. As before with the cables, the goal is for constant tension. Cables also don’t lend themselves to excess momentum or cheating. You want to try and twist the pinkie up as you reach the top to activate as much of the target muscle as possible.
- Wide Grip Front Barbell Rows – This is the final finish move. You want a slightly wider than shoulder width grip on the bar. You should pull up to about nipple height and try and hold for a second before slowly lowering the bar. This works the shoulders and the traps.
The rep range should be in the 8 to 12 range. Shoulders can be a delicate joint so using weights down in the 5 to 6 range can cause more harm than good. Also the heavier the weight, the more prone you are to cheat. For sets it is an individual decision. Ideally you want to get two max effort sets in per exercise going to complete failure. If you need more than a set or two prior to that as a warm-up, that is fine. The exception is the final exercise which should be done as a single set to failure followed by 2 drop sets (reducing the weight and doing more reps). This will really finish off and burn out the shoulders.