Every lifter knows the shoulder is one joint you shouldn't mess with. For many athletes, including MusclePharm-sponsored athlete and Bodybuilding.com spokesmodel finalist Tyler Holt, shoulder surgery doesn't just slow your progress—it completely changes the way you lift.

"Back in 2013 I had a shoulder surgery," explains Holt. "Ever since then, I've been finding ways to completely tax the shoulders and still put size on without the stress of lifting heavy weight."

To keep his shoulders injury-free, Holt uses a variety of different approaches—from banded resistance to back-to-back supersets—to build size and strength without using heavy weight.

This workout is intense, but should take only 40-50 minutes to complete. This is a great shoulder routine that doesn't stress your shoulders with heavy weight, making it a perfect addition to any split. Let's get started!

Tyler Holt's Shoulder Workout
Seated dumbbell shoulder press
5 sets, 20, 15, 12, 10, 8 reps
+ 3 more exercises


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Technique Tips

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Focus on a controlled range of motion by pausing just below 90 degrees at the bottom of the movement and ending just before elbow lockout at the top.

You'll complete 5 total sets, starting at 20 reps, then dropping to 15, then 12, 10, and finally, 8. Work your way up in weight each set, but, as Holt explains, that doesn't mean you must go super heavy.

"Focus on good range of motion and good control of the weight," he urges. "Just build up a good warm-up on the shoulders."

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Giant Set: Arnold Press, Side Raise, and Rear Delt Fly

"The first time I came up with this set, I felt a burn in my shoulders that I've never felt before, no matter how heavy I went," says Holt. "It was fantastic!"

The first exercise is a band-assisted Arnold press using light dumbbells. Use a heavy dumbbell or the leg of a bench to anchor your bands. Complete 10 reps of each exercise. You'll use the same setup for all three exercises: Attach handles to each side of the band, then loop them around your wrists so you can easily grab different weights for each exercise. This helps you maintain the banded resistance for the entire set.

Arnold Press

After your Arnolds, go right into a band-resisted side raise. Holt has an extra trick up his sleeve for more shoulder activation.

"You'll notice in the video that when I get to the top of the raise, I do a slight pump back," he explains. "This is just to get some rear delt activation in the same movement."

The third exercise is a rear delt fly with the bands, minus the dumbbells. Rest after the third exercise, and complete three total rounds.

Superset: Leaning Dumbbell Upright Row and Leaning Side Raise

Finish this shoulder blast with a superset. Leaning out helps hit the shoulder at a different angle. Hold onto a machine and lean out at an angle, performing each exercise back to back in a superset to tire your shoulders without increasing the weight.

Lateral Raise

"This superset helps you end the shoulder workout with a really good burn," explains Holt. "While one arm is resting, the other arm is doing the work. Going back and forth and really taxing those shoulders to burn them out."

By the end of this workout, you should have a pump like you've never felt before. As Holt describes it: "From front to back, you should be feeling it. There shouldn't be any way you can rest your arm to get that burn out of your shoulder."

This is a great workout to implement into your split at least once a week—twice a week if you're really trying to grow your shoulders. Work on this for 6-8 weeks and see how your shoulders respond. Holt is confident you'll notice a difference.

"I think you're really going to get a great result out of this workout," he says.

About the Author

Heather Eastman, NSCA-CPT

Heather Eastman, NSCA-CPT

Heather’s mission is to use her passion for fitness and her knowledge of training and nutrition to educate and motivate others to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle.

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