Whether you're going to stroll onto the stage this year or just stroll the beach, having shapely shoulders can make you feel more confident when your upper body is out there for the world to see. When I'm looking to tighten up and work on the finishing details of my physique, I throw this workout into my rotation. It's especially helpful for making those delts pop and adding a little extra definition.

For the first two sets of each exercise, use a moderate weight and aim for 15 reps. For the last set, increase the weight and drop down to 10 reps. This way, you can ease your way into the exercise and still have enough gas in the tank to push yourself on your last set.

This workout should take about 45 minutes and would be a great once-a-week addition to your current lifting plan.

Stage-Ready Shoulders
Seated dumbbell shoulder press
3 sets, 15, 15, 10 Reps
+ 6 more exercises


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Dumbbell Shoulder Press    

There's no better way to start a shoulder workout than a solid compound movement like the standing dumbbell press. But don't go flying into it! Performing this movement in a slow, controlled manner is the key to doing it safely and targeting the right muscles. With each rep, keep your core tight so you don't bounce up and down or sway back and forth.

Don't short change your range of motion on these presses in the name of going heavier. Lower the weight if you have to, but never sacrifice form.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Face Pull

Unlike the other shoulder exercises you're performing, which target the front and side delts, this exercise takes square aim the back of the shoulders and helps build a well-rounded physique. When you pull the rope toward your face, keep your eyes focused on the center of the rope. This will help make sure that you're not just hitting your back instead. You want those rear delts to burn!

The best way to do this? Perform the eccentric part of the rep slowly. Don't let it clang back to the cable stack!

Dumbbell Around the World

Around the worlds are exactly that: bringing your arms all the way around your body. With a palms-forward grip, hold the dumbbells in front of you. Then, create semicircles with both arms until they meet at the top.

When preforming this movement, don't turn it into a shoulder press at the top. Keep your arms more or less straight for the entirety of the movement.

Dumbbell Around the World

Single-Arm Hanging Lateral Raise

Leaning away while grasping a solid object like a rack support maximizes the isolation on the shoulder throughout the movement. The added force of gravity makes it harder to use any body English to get the weight up, meaning you'll have to rely on just your delts to make that dumbbell move.

Choose a weight that you can lift to about shoulder-height for the assigned number of reps. There's no need to bring the weight much higher. Remember, lifting a weight to shoulder height when you're leaning is equivalent to lifting it above shoulder height when standing straight.

Underhand Barbell Raise

This exercise really targets your front delts. When lifting the bar, keep the movement slow and controlled, and don't swing the bar at any point in the movement. Make the most of each rep by pausing for one second at the top, when your arms are fully extended and the bar is out in front of you. Feel the contraction in your shoulders before lowering.

Rope Front Raise

It's the end of your workout, and you're likely ready to throw in the towel, but don't give in just yet. Give this last exercise your all and head home proud.

When you get to the top of the movement, pull the ropes apart, pause, and bring the rope back down slowly and under control. Once you can't do any more at that weight, drop the stack down a notch and continue—without stopping, if possible. Keep going until you can't.

Rope Front Raise

Head into this final exercise ready to leave it all out there. This is a burnout set, so by the time you finish, you should feel spent!

About the Author

Contributing Writer

Caryn Paolini

Bodybuilding.com’s authors consist of accredited coaches, doctors, dietitians and athletes across the world.

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