Boulders For Shoulders!

Shoulders make the man. We all know it. The broad shoulder guy is always the hero.
Shoulders make the man. We all know it. The broad shoulder guy is always the hero. It's a wonder that shoulders haven't really been recognised by the ego lifter (those guys you see in the gym benching and curling all the time), because strong shoulders are the pillars of an exceptional body. Strong shoulders help you develop a strong upper body, as they often get thrown in the mix with pectoral and upper back workouts. However, I believe that a strong individual shoulder workout is the best way to lay the foundations of a body to be reckoned with.

BEGINNERS

I'm a big believer in no weights is good weights for beginners (See Getting Started). Until you have establish a good strong, healthy body then the gym should not make an appearance, unless it is for cardio or next-to-nothing weights. What I advise for people in this stage of training is something sporty.

  • Boxercise- A top way to get fit and work harden your shoulders. Most gyms offer a Boxercise circuit, which consists (usually) of a lot of running, skipping, sit-ups and punching bags.
  • Body weight exercises- I found doing handstand push-ups before I went to bed help thicken my shoulders and strengthen my back in my pre-weights phase. Vertical dips (with your body straight) are great also.
  • Swimming / Rowing- Not everyone has access to a boat, so swimming is the next best thing. Both are great full body exercises, not to mention shoulder strengthening. You would be surprised how a good kilometre in the pool will help develop your shoulders.
So you've developed some hard muscle to hold your arm onto your body, and it seems to be doing its job. The next progression is to the gym. A good shoulder workout should exercise all areas of the deltoid. A beginner's shoulder routine should probably consist of no more than four to six separate exercises, with preferably higher reps and light weights. Here is the program I followed to get on track for boulder shoulders. (Note: This is only the program that worked for me, feel free to adjust if necessary)

Lateral Cable Raises
Slow and stretchy motion
12 - 14 in front followed immediately by same amount behind
3 sets

Military Press
Using supported bar or free weight with spotter
Powerful but controlled squeeze, start from upper chest/back
1 set of 12-14 in front, rest, then the same behind
3 sets / 3 sets

Dumbbell Raises
Controlled lift to shoulder height, pause at the zenith for 2 - 3 seconds
Make sure palm is at a slight forward decline
10 - 12 reps with perfect technique
3 - 4 sets

IMPORTANT: Never forget to stretch

EXPERIENCED

If you have been lifting for a while and are looking for a great new program, here is a corker that has left me with throbbing delts after every workout. Super-sets and drop sets work really well for me, and if you are the same give this work out a try, but make suer you do a big stretch before and during this workout.

Lateral Cable Raises
Slow and stretchy motion
12 - 14 in front followed immediately by same amount behind
3 sets

Dumbbell Military Press
Use heavy dumbbells with spotter
Powerful but controlled squeeze, two dumbbells at a time
Aim for 8 - 10 unassisted
4 sets + 1 drop set

Upright Row / Dumbbell Raise Combo
Hands one palm span apart, to upper chest
Dumbbell raise immediately after set of row
Aim for 10 rows, 8-10 raises
4 sets

Developed shoulders make all the difference in and out of the gym. If you keep up a solid shoulder routine you will find yourself broadening about the shoulders, not to mention heightening your sex appeal and making inordinate amounts of money appear under your pillow every morning.

Now get back to work!