Everyone loves working on their shoulder gains. Heck, that body part is almost as popular as training arms and chest! But just as it's all too easy to fall into a rut with the big muscles, so too can your shoulder game become boring and routine.
Here are three unique shoulder moves you may not have tried yet that will challenge every angle of your delts and stimulate those boulders to grow!
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Standing palm-in one-arm dumbbell press
Have you ever seen the strongman competitions and watched the athletes perform the clean and press with the circus dumbbell? That's sort of what you're going to do here. You don't have to clean the dumbbell with every rep, but you will press it up just like the end of a clean and press.
Hold one dumbbell at shoulder height with a neutral grip (palm facing in), elbow directly below your wrist. Use your other arm to hold on to an incline bench or rack for balance. Maintain that neutral grip as you exhale and press the weight overhead until your arm is fully extended. Slowly lower the weight with control and repeat. Once you finish all the reps on one side, lower the weight to the floor, pick it up with the other hand, and perform the same number of reps.
This workout calls for sets of 6-8 reps, but if you can easily complete 8 reps, go up in weight. While you don't want to sacrifice form, always push yourself if you want those muscles to grow. Once you complete the set with both shoulders, rest 2 minutes and go again.
One-arm incline lateral raise
By now, the drive to go super heavy should be out of your system. This is a good thing, because this next exercise is humbling. The lateral raise requires focus, not brute strength, to activate growth in the shoulders. Performing the raise on the incline blasts the side delts and gets the rear delts working secondarily.
Leave your ego at the door because momentum works against you, and you can't cheat with body English. Lie down sideways on an incline bench with a dumbbell in your top hand, palm facing down. Keep your other shoulder pressed against the incline bench the entire time as you raise your upper arm, lifting the dumbbell up until your knuckles point to the ceiling. Slowly lower the weight and repeat.
As you did with the one-arm presses, you'll have to go one side at a time. This will help with balance of strength, as well as symmetry of the shoulders, that you don't get from double-arm exercises. These raises will burn, but don't speed up the reps. Toughing it out will give you the gains you're looking for. After doing both shoulders, rest for 1 minute.
Sled reverse fly
This is a fun twist for working the rear delts, and although more muscles will come into play than just the back of the shoulder, you'll still feel a great burn.
Load up the sled with a weight that is manageable but will make you work. There's no sled reverse fly world record, so don't worry about piling plates on. Make sure you have a good distance to work with. If your gym has a sled, this shouldn't be an issue.
Face the sled, backing up until there is some tension in the line. Holding both handles with arms extended at about waist level, pull the handles upward and apart in a reverse fly with some external rotation. Your palms should be facing forward as you do this.
The sled will move toward you, so lower your arms to the starting position at the end of the movement and take a couple of steps back to put tension back in the line. Repeat the move, making your way across the gym. As you near the end of the set, you'll be tempted to use your legs and back to generate force. Don't! Make your shoulders do the work.
Once you finish the set, spin the sled around and go back the opposite way. Alternatively, or if you want to burn some calories in the process, push the sled back to the place you started as fast as you can before taking your 60-second break.
Note: If your gym doesn't have a sled, perform the reverse pec-deck…then talk to your gym manager about adding a sled.
For more unique and challenging shoulder movements, check out the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database.