The level of the pump indicates how great a workout really is. Whether you're male or female, rookie or longtime lifter, physique athlete or strength performer, developing serious shoulders means doing serious work.

This shoulder-building protocol hits all three heads of the shoulders, making those delt muscles pop and intensifying your pump for greater gains.

Shoulder Pump of Your Life Workout
Dumbbell Lying Rear Lateral Raise
3 sets, 12-15 reps (rest-pause)
+ 5 more exercises


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Technique Keys

Dumbbell Lying Rear Lateral Raise

Too many athletes neglect their rear delts by putting them off until the end of the workout, a time when they are tired and less likely to get quality repetitions. This tendency to overlook the rear delts is exactly why this workout's first exercise hits them.

Select dumbbells light enough that you can feel your rear delts contract and can control the weights as you lower them back down. You should reach failure at 10-12 reps. Wait 10 seconds before trying to get a few more reps. This is a rest-pause set, a great way to boost the intensity of your workout and increase the pump. Three of these sets and the back of your shoulders will be good to go.

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Seated Machine Press

You can use heavier weight in the machine, but don't try to set any records here. You still want to have control as you press the weight up and then lower it. When you lower the handles, do so for around a 3-second count. Stop just short of bottoming out to keep tension on the muscles. Hold that pause for a second and then press back up as forcefully as you can.

Seated Machine Press

Repeat this pattern for 10-12 reps, which is when you should reach failure. Drop the weight by 25-30 percent and immediately get back to work. Once you reach failure again, you're done for this set. Complete 3 dropsets.

One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise

Single-arm raises with cables allow you to focus on training one deltoid at a time. You should be approaching failure by the 9th or 10th rep. If you come up a rep or two short, don't worry about it.

The key to getting the most out of this exercise is how you perform that last rep. When you lift the handle up, hold it at the top for as long as you can. Eventually it will come down, but fight it every inch of the way. Repeat with the other shoulder.

Lateral Raise to Front Raise

This killer shoulder combo is going to burn, and by the time you're done, you'll see why they are part of this workout. The pump produced by transitioning from side to front on these raises will be noticeable to you and everyone else in the gym.

Lateral Raise

You don't need to do anything fancy for this exercise. Simply perform the reps, maintaining good form, and do your best not to use momentum. Focus on one rep at a time. Such focus is essential for getting the best benefit from this movement.

BONUS: Barbell Shrug

Every time I write a shoulder article I read the comments and see that quite a few of you want something for traps, so this is for those of you that like to add traps to your delt work.

Barbell Shrug

Load a bar with weight that will result in failure after about the 15-rep mark. Perform as many reps as you can. Don't bounce the bar up and down either. Once you reach failure, rest 30 seconds. Get right back to work, picking up where you left off.

Repeat this sequence until you complete 100 reps. It might take you a little while but, hey, you asked for it! Once you reach 100, those traps will be pumped to the max.

About the Author

Roger Lockridge

Roger Lockridge

Bodybuilding is the reason I am who I am today. I am more confident in myself, actually looking for the next challenge, and inspiring others.

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