My appetite for volume training never dwindles—especially if it's shoulder day. Creative angles, unexpected movements, and relentless intensity are the ingredients I blend to create the perfect shoulder-crushing concoction. And, if I happen to be lifting with another passionate lifter who can bring that same drive and creativity, all the better.

IFBB pro figure competitor Leah Dolan and I recently went through a muscle-destroying high-volume shoulder workout together, which turned out to be just as intense as you might imagine. We knew it would be memorable, so we decided to document every step of the way so you can test yourself against it just like we did.

Gethin's Best Exercises For Shoulders Gains
Landmine twist
3 sets, 20 reps (per arm)
+ 4 more exercises


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Landmine Shoulder Press

This resembles a single-arm overhead press, but with enough variation to introduce a new stimulus. The crucial part is using the correct angle to crush the deltoids, so play close attention to our form. Don't let your elbow drop down by your torso, but rather let it come back instead, which will prevent this from becoming a triceps exercise. The anterior and medial deltoids are the target with the landmine shoulder press.

While this movement definitely turns your core on, you don't want the core to totally take over. That's why I take a nice wide stance.

Scrape-the-Rack Press

This exercise is one I'd actually never done before. This goes to show that even after 18 years in the gym, there's always more to discover. Normally when you press overhead, you have to use a lot of stabilizer muscles. But because you're pushing agains the rack with this move, it feels like you can isolate the deltoid muscles much more effectively. As with most pressing exercises, I don't recommend locking out, because it gives the deltoids an unneeded rest.

Stand just behind the bar, and take a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance, with your feet nice and stable. This will keep the core involvement under control and help you work around any existing shoulder issues. Done right, this almost feels like a machine press.

As fatigue builds, your reps may go down a bit. For the last few, feel free to use a little leg push to get the bar up. The only rule is to control the negative portion of hte rep, so that your deltoids are still working.

Upright Row 21s

You're probably familiar with the classic 21 protocol for biceps curls. This uses a similar rep scheme to destruct the deltoids. Start with a wide grip to hit the rear delts for 7 reps, then a shoulder-width gripfor 7 reps, which will focus on the medial head. To finish, switch to a narrow grip, which will hammer both the front delts and medial head. With each adjustment of the grip, the range of motion increases.

Rope Face Pull With Alternating Grips

This high-rep finisher was Leah's idea, and with delts like hers, who am I to argue? The premise is simple: Perform 10 reps holding the rope overhand, 10 reps underhand, and 10 holding the ball on the end of the rope. All three will work to isolate the rear portion of the deltois, which is crucial because it's probably one of the most under-trained muscles in the body.

That's how it went down! This workout was instinctive and creative, but that's often when it deals out the most torture. Now go try it yourself!

About the Author

Kris Gethin

Kris Gethin

Kris is a writer and photographer, and periodically provides with articles and pictorial features.

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