Strong Shoulders Workout: 4 Shoulder-Building Compound Moves

Looking for a new way to add size and shape to your shoulders? Get out of the lateral-raise rut and give these compound movements a shot. You'll like what you see!

Shoulders were once my weakest body part. No matter what I tried, it seemed like I couldn't build better shoulders to save my life. After an interest in CrossFit sparked my curiosity in Olympic-style lifts, I pushed the isolation movements to the end of my workouts and gave compound movements their due. Within a matter of months, my shoulders gained significant size and strength!

I'm usually a proponent of a standard bodybuilding routine built on effective isolation movements, but it's good to mix things up and force your body to adapt to new stimuli. Endless front and lateral raises with relatively light weights get boring, too. Sure, they provide a burn to your muscular endurance, but they don't allow you to hoist heavy stuff over your head. Believe me: Heavy lifts will really help you build the shoulder caps you crave!

If you're tired of your normal shoulder isolation movements, try this compound workout. Not only will your shoulders get a great pump, but the movements will challenge your entire body. Your heart rate will skyrocket and stay high. You'll lift more total weight, engage your core, be forced to use your glutes, and you'll burn more calories than you would doing a standard isolation routine.

Compound Movement Shoulder Workout
  • Push Press Push Press

    Push Press

    5 sets of 8-12 reps, rest 60-90 seconds between sets
  • Dumbbell Snatch Dumbbell Snatch

    Dumbbell Snatch (shown with kettlebell)

    4 sets of 8-12 reps each arm, rest 60-90 seconds between sets
  • Dumbbell Snatch: Perform from the floor or hang position. Finish all 8 reps with one arm before moving to the other.
  • Kettlebell Clean and Jerk Kettlebell Clean and Jerk

    Kettlebell Clean and Jerk (shown one-armed)

    4 sets of 8-12 reps, rest 60-90 seconds between sets
  • Kettlebell Clean and Jerk: Finish all 8 reps with one arm before moving to the other.

    Superset

  • Arnold Press Arnold Press

    Arnold Press

    4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise Dumbbell Lateral Raise

    Dumbbell Lateral Raise

    4 sets of 8-12 reps, rest 60-90 seconds between sets
  • Handstand Push-Ups Handstand Push-Ups

    Handstand Push-Ups

    4 sets to failure, rest 60-90 seconds between sets
  • Handstand Push-Ups: Scale these to match your ability level. You can perform them with your feet on a tall box, or use a pad under your head to limit your range of motion.



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blake.arnold89

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blake.arnold89

I thought the handstand push-ups would of came first since they are probably the hardest to do strength wise.

May 4, 2013 5:58am | report
 
kbaymiller

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kbaymiller

I like to finish my workouts with push-ups to failure... Whether its chest, triceps or shoulders... Just personal preference! You could definitely start the workout with them if you like that better :)

May 4, 2013 1:13pm | report
jstanek

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jstanek

pushups to failure on your head??? WOT?

May 5, 2013 2:59pm | report
illaul

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illaul

used to do clean n jerks but can cause rotator cuff injuries ..... so do em with proper posture n form

May 6, 2013 9:11am | report
 
jdogg412011

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jdogg412011

Good article. Thanks.

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May 6, 2013 9:53am | report
 
mbuat

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mbuat

could also substitute one arm dumbbell presses in for barbell push press for a vertical push movement.

May 6, 2013 11:28am | report
 
SamanthaAnn

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SamanthaAnn

Great article! Love me some shoulders!! (and some kbaymiller!)

May 6, 2013 2:58pm | report
 
Singularity7

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Singularity7

Where are the rear delt work?
Last thing you want is an overbuilt anterior and lateral deltoid with a very small posterior.

May 11, 2013 7:48am | report
 
Claudinekidson

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Claudinekidson

OMW Who can do 4 sets of Handstand Push-ups who is starting out at the end of a shoulder workout? ;-) will have to try this tonight and see! Will be interesting

May 28, 2013 1:24am | report
 
Showing 1 - 9 of 9 Comments

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