Want a bigger upper body? Craving those V-taper aesthetics? Both goals demand building big shoulders.
Your shoulders are already working all day long, helping you do everything from brushing your teeth to shooting hoops to driving to work. So you've got to work them hard with the best shoulder exercises to get them to hear the message to grow! These beginner-friendly shoulder workouts will do just that.
Each workout here combines the best shoulder exercises like presses and raises with just enough intensity and volume to build 3D delts. With a growth-focused approach to nutrition and supplementation, these workouts will deliver serious size and surprising strength gains.
Know Your Shoulders to Grow Your Shoulders
The shoulders consist of three "heads" of a single muscle group: the front (anterior), side (lateral), and rear (posterior) deltoids. But in training, it's best to treat them as three small muscle groups.
Many beginners make the mistake of treating the heads as one muscle and train it like they do chest: with presses, presses, and more presses. The problem? This training approach heavily recruits the anterior head with little work to the middle and posterior head of the shoulder girdle.
Without middle and posterior development, the shoulders will look narrow from both the front and the side. It can also result in imbalances, which is why physical therapist and strength coach John Rusin recommends paying as much attention—or even more—to the rear and lateral deltoids.
The shoulders contain both fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers, but slightly more slow-twitch. This means they'll respond to both moderate (6-8) rep ranges and higher (8-12). But bodybuilders know that building seriously impressive shoulders demands a serious pump—so expect to see sets of 12-15 in there, too!
How to Use These Shoulder Workouts
Perform one shoulder workout per week. If you're really trying to bring up your shoulders, do it first thing each week on Monday while you're fresh from a day off. Otherwise, Wednesday or Thursday are classic days for shoulders, maybe with some traps thrown in afterward.
Perform Workout 1 for 4-6 weeks, trying to increase the weight you use each workout. On most exercises, you'll add weight until the final set, which you should take close to muscle failure. Then move to Workout 2 and repeat the process until you get through Workout 5. Once you're through Workout 5, you can start over with Workout 1 confident that you're bigger and stronger than you were before.
While you're on this program, use Bodybuilding.com's macronutrient calculator to make sure you're eating enough calories, protein, carbs, and fats to support your goal of muscle gains. To grow your shoulders, you must be in a caloric surplus, meaning that you are eating more calories than you burn.
Along with protein, a couple of key supplements to consider with these workouts are:
Have any doubt about how to perform a movement? Click on the exercise name in the workout table, or search in the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database.