After a heavy dose of spirituality, I wanted to switch things up a bit and share with you guys something more concrete, down-to-earth and immediately actionable.
1. Standing Overhead Press
When I first started lifting, the only shoulder exercise I ever did was seated dumbbell shoulder press. While shoulder press is a great exercise, it’s far from the best and most comprehensive shoulder lift you can do. Once I started doing OHP (particularly with a focus on strength) I noticed much better shoulder growth.
I’ve had best results from OHP when it is:
- Strict (No leg momentum)
- Done with full ROM and proper form (here is a great video demonstrating correct OHP form)
Keep your core tight, glutes squeezed together, and your grip narrow(er). Your head should move forward after the bar clears the face, and at the top of the movement the bar should be directly above the shoulders, not in front of them.
2. Isolate all 3 heads of the shoulder
The shoulder is made up of three segments or “heads”. These are the anterior, lateral and posterior (or: front, middle and back).
Many people do a single pressing exercise (like shoulder press or OHP) and think they are getting a complete shoulder workout. But pressing movements only work the front, a bit of the middle, and none of the rear delt.
I noticed dramatically better shoulder growth as soon as I started doing isolation movements for each head. Isolations are necessary if you want to get “3D” delts.
Dumbbell and cable raises are great to isolate the side and rear delts. For these exercises, lead with the elbow and keep your hand angled slightly so the pinkie is closer to the ceiling than the rest of the fingers. This way you are sure to be working the side or rear delt and not the front one.
Many guys have overdeveloped front delts due to too much shoulder and bench pressing. If this is the case for you, then there’s no need to isolate the front delt. Allow time for the other two heads to “catch up” and for your shoulder to balance out. The front head may always remain slightly dominant, but try to avoid a massive imbalance.
3. Volume, volume and more volume
Shoulders, in my experience, respond best to a lot of volume. This just means a high number sets/reps with relatively low weight.
After going heavy on 3-4 sets of OHP, I will usually do 4 sets of 10-15 reps of dumbbell side raises, and then maybe another 4 sets of 10-15 reps of cable side raises. I do rear delts on back day but the principle is the same: lots of volume.
This adds up to anywhere between 50-100 reps per side per workout. Drop sets are good too. Again, the weight is kept pretty light to allow for this many reps, and my shoulders are pretty pumped and even “hurting” by the end of the workout.
As with all lifting, how to get big shoulders really comes down to consistency. I hope this has been helpful and best of luck!
How about you? What are your shoulder workouts like? Have you found anything in particular that works well? Let us know in the comments section below.