The shoulders are one of the most noticed body parts. When fully clothed or not, it can make one's appearance much broader. For bodybuilders and every day exercisers, it is the one body part that will make your waist appear smaller with out losing any inches. In addition, proper shoulder training will allow you to develop your chest and back quicker.

As a personal trainer for competitive bodybuilders, I always recommend concentrating on building up the side deltoids and of course the legs for this reason alone.

Here is a typical routine that I like to do and I brief description of each exercise.

First off, the shoulder muscles consist of three deltoid heads. They are, anterior(front), medial(side) and rear. The following shoulder exercises will work each area to the fullest.

Exercise 1: Barbell Shoulder Press

Barbell shoulder press

Barbell Shoulder Press

A mainstay exercise is the shoulder press. This pressing movement primarily works the side and front deltoids. Using a machine, a barbell or dumbells, can perform the shoulder press. I personally prefer to use dumbells because there is less restriction and most importantly the muscles move in their natural plane. When pressing the weight, try not to lock your elbows. Locking the elbows will reduce the resistance on your shoulder muscles and place unwanted stress on the elbow joint.

Exercise 2: Seated Side Lateral Raise

Seated side lateral raise

Seated Side Lateral Raise

To hit the side delts, my favorite is the side lateral raise. This exercise can be performed with dumbells or even a low pulley cable. In most cases, I like to start my routine with this exercise because I want to be able to lift as much as possible. But never sacrifice form to lift heavy weights.

I see too many people either not lifting enough weight or doing this movement incorrectly. Remember to only lift the dumbells as high as your shoulders while keeping your elbow slightly flex.

Exercise 3: Front Raise and Pullover

Front raise and pull-over

Front Raise and Pullover

A forgotten exercise is the front raise. The reason being is that you are not going to turn heads while doing the movement. You can use a variety of methods to burn the front delts. My two favorites are alternating dumbells and the low cable pulley with a short bar. It can also be executed while holding a plate like a car steering wheel. The key for this exercise is to keep a slight flexion at the elbow while lifting the weight just above shoulder level.

Exercise 4: Smith Machine Upright Row

Smith machine upright row

Smith Machine Upright Row

To tie in the front delts, side delts and traps, the exercise to do is the upright row. With this movement, you can choose your resistance from a low cable pulley, barbell or dumbells. I prefer, the low cable, because of the continuous tension. The key is to squeeze on the top portion of the movement and to hold for a beat. In addition, the shoulder shrug exercises the traps, but that is it. For beginners, I recommend the upright row because it works more than one muscle group.

Exercise 5: Lying Rear Delt Raise

Lying rear-delt raise

Lying Rear Delt Raise

I like to work the rear delts at the end of the routine and only do a couple of sets. The rear deltoids are exercised during most back movements, therefore, not as much work is needed. There are machines that specifically hit this area, or again you can use the dumbells. Either way, the exercise is done in the same manner in which you want to do a reverse chest fly. Lighter weight is recommended, because this is a true feel exercise.

All in all, these five exercises will give you total shoulder development. Remember to change the exercises from week to week because you do not want your body to adapt to any movement. I suggest choosing 3 exercises and complete 3 working sets of 10-to-12 repetitions for each shoulder workout. Do not forget to warm-up the shoulder with lighter weight.

Here are two typical routines that I like to do.

  • WEEK 1 - Side lateral raise, dumbell press, front raise.
  • WEEK 2 - Side lateral raise, upright row, rear delt raise.

About the Author

Joe Franco

Joe Franco

Joe Franco is a certified personal trainer and has his own website.

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Shoulders Shoulder Workout