Do you want to look big, thick, and WIDE? Do you want to have that physique that commands respect and lets everyone know you are as strong as you look? If so, you’re going to need to build a seriously impressive set of shoulders. You might be a big, strong dude, but if your shoulders are lagging, nobody’s going to know it! Follow this killer shoulders workout to get cannonball delts!
1. Standing Military Press
This is the classic movement that nobody does anymore. While you can certainly move a bit more weight on seated barbell and dumbbell presses, I’ve found that nothing build big, thick shoulders quite like the strict, standing press. Strict means full range of motion from chest to lockout with NO leg drive! Leave your ego at the door, press hard with as much weight as you can handle, and watch your front delts grow in literally a matter of weeks.
Start by doing several warm-up sets with just the bar. The military press can be hard on your shoulders, and you need to make sure you’re ready before you move to heavy weights. Once you’ve warmed up, do 3 hard sets of 5-6 reps. Save the high reps and burn for your side raises; the military press is all about heavy iron!
2. High-Incline Smith Machine Presses
I don’t typically like the smith machine, but it’s invaluable for working the front delts and upper chest. Since your upper chest works with your front delts and makes your whole shoulder girdle look bigger, you’re going to work it in your shoulders workout. Set up a bench at a high, nearly vertical incline in the smith and do a few warm-up reps to make sure you’ve got everything situated right.
You’re already warmed up, so work your way up quickly to 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Use a full range of motion from clavicle to lockout, and really squeeze your upper chest. You will not be able to use a ton of weight, but consistently putting in the work on this exercises will give your front delts and chest a rugged, powerful look that will make your whole physique look thicker.
3. Dumbbell Side Raises
Everybody does some kind of side raise in their shoulders workout, but a lot of lifters are getting fancy these days. They’re using cables, machines, and all sorts of weird techniques. If you want the widest shoulders possible, stick to the basic dumbbell raise and bust ass. Do 5 sets of 12-20 reps, and NEVER leave a rep in the tank! This kind of intensity and volume is the only thing that can really blow your shoulders up to bodybuilder proportions.
4. Dumbbell Rear Raises
Your rear delts will get a lot of work when you train back, but if you really want thick, sculpted shoulders, you’re going to have to show them some love in your shoulders workout, too. Bend at the waist and think about raising with your elbows, not your hands. Follow the same protocol as you did with the side raises. Fight through the burn, finish all 5 sets, and your shoulder development will thank you.
5. Machine Presses
At this point in the shoulders workout, you’ve already done the heavy work. To pump some more blood into your shoulders and facilitate growth and recovery, head to your favorite overhead press machine and bust out a few light sets of 15-20 reps. Afterwards, stretch your shoulders aggressively for joint health and muscle recovery.