The Best Shoulder Workouts for More Muscle, For Strength, For Beginners, and More | Breaking Muscle


Coaching the shoulders might not be on the prime of the listing for many lifters. It doesn’t even make the listing in any respect for some, they usually skip it fully. However the shoulders (a.okay.a. the deltoids or delts) can serve an important function in lots of objectives.

Whether or not you need to add extra muscle, get stronger, or in the event you’re solely now beginning your journey into the iron sport, a scientific method to shoulder coaching is finest. Formulating a stable and efficient plan will take some cautious consideration of perform.

Breaking down the shoulders into separate-but-connected components, and coaching them accordingly, is the optimum path for the best progress in direction of fulfilling your particular objectives. Under are 4 choices for shoulder coaching particular to the objectives of constructing muscle, dumbbell-only coaching, newbie exercises, and pure energy.

The Greatest Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder Exercise for Extra Muscle

If extra muscle is the aim, your ego must take a hike. Constructing muscle isn’t fully about lifting heavier weight for extra reps. Sure, progressive overload is part of the more-muscle equation, however type and performance are crucial to your success, particularly in the case of coaching the shoulders.

Your focus must be on controlling the load, avoiding any dishonest to maneuver the load up, and getting most fiber recruitment and blood stream. 

The Extensive Delt Exercise

Many lifters invariably begin every shoulder exercise with a heavy overhead press to take advantage of increased strength levels early in the session. However, those same lifters would benefit from starting with work for common weak points or overlooked muscles.

Credit: WorldStockStudio / Shutterstock

This more effective approach will help to balance out shoulder mass and pre-exhaust the area, facilitating a greater training effect without the need for super-heavy weights — which can create stress on the joints and, elicit poor form, and shift the focus to strength-building. 

Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Machine Shoulder Press

Cable Face Pull 

Shoulder Workout with Dumbbells

Effective shoulder training shouldn’t be reserved for those who have the latest state-of-the-art technology, the most current training machinery, and the most plush workout environments.

Man in gym performing shoulder exercise with dumbbells
Credit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

With just a simple set of dumbbells, anyone can build an impressive set of deltoids without needing any flashy equipment.

Dumbbell-Only Delt Training

Below is a basic dumbbell workout covering all the important bases needed for any solid plan. It hits each deltoid head — front, side, and rear — and utilizes a few unique planes of motion, setting you up for a great workout without the traditional (and expensive) gym equipment.

Seated Dumbbell Press

Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Standing Dumbbell Upright Row

Seated Dumbbell Front Raise

Shoulder Workout for Beginners

With the overwhelming amount of information on the web, it’s tough to discern what works and what doesn’t (about everything, let alone shoulder training).

It also seems that everyone has an opinion about how beginners “should” start out whether it’s with the barebones basics, diving right into some complex program, or using something in between. But rest assured, shoulder training doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, all that confusing.

The Basic Beginner’s Shoulder Workout

A beginner’s routine shouldn’t be too complicated, and that’s especially true for the shoulders. The deltoid complex is made up of many smaller muscles that work in concert to function through many planes of motion. Additionally, it can be a vulnerable area when trained incorrectly.

Man in gym performing barbell shoulder press
Credit: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Beginners need to simply focus on practicing proper form and working the muscles through a full range of motion without worrying too much about loading heavy weights. 

Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

Wide-Grip Barbell Upright Row

Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Shoulder Workout for Strength

Building strong shoulders isn’t as simple as hoisting heavier weights with your current routine. It’ll take a bit of a paradigm shift. The goal should be to lift heavier, but only with the right exercises.

Man performing heavy barbell shoulder press
Credit: MilanMarkovic78 / Shutterstock

Stronger shoulders are the hub of all upper body movements. A strong and stable shoulder girdle has the ability to support many of the bigger lifts such as bench presses, rows, pull-ups, and deadlifts. 

The Strength-Building Shoulder Workout 

Take a different approach to strength here. You’ll need to think about big compound movements, developing some speed strength, and using exercises that can add more foundational stability. This plan is designed to do just that. 

Standing Push Press

Hang Clean

Farmer’s Walk

Muscles of Your Shoulders

The shoulders, or deltoids, are one muscle composed of three separate heads.

Bodybuilder flexing shoulder and back muscles
Credit: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

Each head contributes to overall movement, but their anatomical position allows each to be a larger contributor during certain movements, making the shoulder a relatively complex muscle group.

Anterior Deltoids

The anterior deltoids, or front delts, are in front of the shoulder above your biceps. They connect your upper arm to your clavicle. They primarily raise your arm upwards in front of your body..

Lateral Deltoids

The lateral deltoids, or side delts, are located on the central section of the shoulder and are most commonly associated with the “wide shoulder” appearance. The lateral delts connect your upper arm to the acromion process on your shoulder blade. Lateral delts are significantly recruited to move your arm out to the side.

Posterior Deltoids

The posterior deltoids, or rear delts, connect your upper arm to the flat portion of your shoulder blade. They play a key role in moving your arms backwards, especially during pulling or rowing exercises. Because several muscles of the upper back also perform a similar function, the rear deltoids often require (but don’t often receive) specifically targeted training.

How to Warm-Up Your Shoulders

Skipping a warm-up isn’t good for any body part. Sure, you may quickly warm-up your legs, chest, or back, but many lifters have no good reason for simply jumping right into shoulder training without prepping them for the work to come.

The shoulders are a complex, multi-angular group of muscles that require a proper warm-up specific to their needs. Since their function is to lift the arm to the front, side, and back, it’s best to give these movements attention.

A Complete Shoulder Warm-Up

Well-Rounded, Well-Built Shoulders

No matter if your goal is muscle growth, more strength, or if you need an all dumbbell option or you’re a beginner there’s a shoulder workout designed just for you. Choose a plan, execute with razor-like focus, and finally reach those goals for better shoulders.

Featured Image: Aleksandr Lupin / Shutterstock



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