Training The Shoulders!

Training the shoulders has never been a big issue with me. I am guessing my shoulders are already big. The odd thing is that I never had to compare my shoulders with anyone else.
Training the shoulders has never been a big issue with me. I am guessing my shoulders are already big. The odd thing is that I never had to compare my shoulders with anyone else. They are not the most popular muscle group to train, from what I see, but they are also probably the least neglected muscle group, because so many people bench press and do back exercises, they hit the front and rear delts without directly doing exercises for them.

I never really understood that the rear delts were used in back exercises like the front delts are used in chest exercises until I read the shoulders section in Ironman's Ultimate bodybuilding Encyclopedia. In fact, in one article, it said not even to train the front or rear delts, that all you really need to do was train the side delts, because the front and rear delts already got all the stimulation they need.

I don't like just doing that, but it is just my opinion. In this article, I am going to give you information about training the shoulders, so that you don't neglect to keep them up with the rest of your body. Make your own opinions based on the information I give you.

The Muscles

The muscles in your shoulders, commonly referred to as "delts", are actually called deltoids (a longer name for delts). There are 3 "heads" to the deltoids. The anterior deltoid, middle deltoid, and posterior deltoid make up the shoulders. The anterior is the front, middle is the middle, and posterior is the back. They are commonly referred to as front, side and rear deltoids. Other muscles involved in the shoulders' functions are the rotator cuff muscles.

I have done a, well pretty lame rotator cuff article. It was one of my earliest articles, and I plan to make a revised article of it. The shoulders are involved in the whole rotation of the arm. The front deltoids are involved in raising the arm straight up, the side deltoids are involved in raising the arm straight out to the side, and the rear deltoids are involved in bringing the arm straight back.

The shoulders are not a very hard muscle group to isolate, because most of the main shoulder exercises can isolate one deltoid in its primary function.

The Exercises

The exercises for the shoulders are very simple movements. That is why I like training the shoulders. I will give you what I feel are the best shoulder exercises.

Military Press - Probably the king of all shoulder exercises, you sit straight up, you can use something to support your back if you prefer, and, holding the bar near your chest, press straight over your head, like you would see Hercules pressing a giant boulder over his head. It is a ver simple exercise. When bringing the bar back down, I like to go as far down as my chest or as close to it.

Dumbbell Press - Same as the military press only with dumbbells. In fact, you could do the exercise with your palms facing your head, and press up, and when you almost reach the top, turn your hands so that your palms face forward. This is called an Arnold Press.

Front Raises - This is very simple. Take a dumbbell in each hand; have your palms facing behind you. Raise your arms straight up in front of you. Your palms should be facing the floor. This is a very disciplined movement, as it takes a lot of time to master.

Lateral Raises - Take two dumbbells, have your palms touching your outer thighs. Bring your arms straight out to your sides so that they are parallel with the floor at this point, with your palms facing the floor. This exercise really kills the side delts, and I love it. You can be seated or standing in this exercise, as you can in all these exercises.

Bent over laterals - Bend your knees slightly (unless you are sitting, then you would be at the edge of a bench), arch your back. Your back should be straight throughout this movement, so arch it back. I don't mean put an arch on it, just arch it so that it is almost parallel to the ground. After this, just bring the dumbbells as far back as you can, in a motion like a reverse dumbbell flye. Your elbows should be bent throughout the motion.

These are probably the main exercises for training your shoulders. I train shoulders fairly hard, meaning I do a lot of sets. If you don't like that, don't use the workouts I am about to show you. If you aren't afraid of high volume training, and you want to gain some serious size on your shoulders, then by all means, read the workouts.

Mass building

For building the overall mass of the shoulders, I usually do military presses for about 4 sets. If I am not in the mood for military presses, I substitute dumbbell presses instead. After the military presses, I do 3 sets of lateral raises. The reason I only do three sets of lateral raises is because the side delts were already worked in the military press. After the lateral raises, I usually do bent over standing laterals, or the rear delt machine that reverses on the pec-deck.

I do those for about 5 sets. I keep my rep range in about 6-8 or 8-10. I have gotten a lot of size this way and my shoulders are pretty defined, too. I have done a total of about 12 sets for the shoulders, which, to me, is perfect for stimulating muscle growth. A lot of people will tell you that high volume is bad, but I can't get any strength or mass gains without using high volume training, so I obviously just do what I want and I don't care what they say.

Give it a try and see for yourself, if you feel frisky. If it is too much, go to low volume. I can't force you to do it. You have to make a decision to try high volume if you want. I know I am going to hear about it after saying that, but I love it, and I don't understand why more people don't use high volume.


For definition in my shoulders, this is the workout I usually use:

Front raises 3x 12-15 reps
Side raises 3x 12-15 reps
Standing Bent over laterals 3x 12-15 reps

Click HERE for printable log of this workout.

Of course, I am going to put up with the trash I always do, but hey, I speak freely. And the last time I checked, it was legal. People don't like someone who speaks the truth, but it's legal. If you don't like this article, the message boards are wide open, and ready for your comment. I am sure it will make you feel great letting the people know what you think!

Be outspoken. Be yourself!