Shoulder Training 101

Get huge shoulders! Here is a great shoulder workout, exercise descriptions and pics, and much more.

The "V-Taper" is a defining characteristic in any great physique. Wide up top with a narrow waist. Now that is what I am talking about - What about you? Mostly associated with a wide back it is important to realize that the "V-Taper" starts up top with wide shoulders. The wider your shoulders are, the narrower the waist will appear. Do you FEEL ME? Bet.

The deltoid (shoulder) is a large three-headed muscle group consisting of the anterior (front), medial (side) and posterior (rear) deltoid. Click here for a drawing. The basic function of the deltoid muscle is to rotate and lift the arm. In order to develop massive, round CANNON BALL DELTS all three heads of the shoulder must be fully developed. It is also important to develop the trapezius muscle as well since they extend down from the neck, to down between the shoulder blades.

Shoulder training involves two types of exercise; presses and raises. The following routine is designed for over-all development of the deltoids and trapezius muscles. Although very basic, it is a foolproof way to get development up top. It is the very routine that has given me the development I have today, and it will work for you! So let's get down to business. Lets get "IN THE TRENCHES"!


The purpose of this exercise is to add mass and fully develop the shoulder muscles. Since this is the primary mass building movement in this routine, it is best to start your workout with this exercise. The beginning of your workout is when you are the freshest and have the most energy. This will allow you to handle the heaviest weight possible with the most intensity and focus. I prefer dumbbell presses to other pressing exercises for a couple of reasons. With dumbbell presses you get a greater range of motion for overall development and each shoulder is working individually maximizing the effort put out by both shoulders completely. Also, doing presses with barbell's to the front over emphasize the anterior delts and upper chest while presses behind the neck using a barbell put a lot of stress on the shoulder joint risking injury.

Perform this exercise on a workout chair that has back support. Make sure that your lower back is supported up against the chair throughout the entire movement. Begin the exercise with one dumbbell in each hand, slightly above shoulder level. Your elbows should be out to the side and the palms of your hands should be facing forward, Press the dumbbell's over your head until the dumbbells almost touch and then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Maintain control of the weights throughout the entire movement, taking about 1-? seconds to lower the weight and then just explode up.

Perform one warm-up set of about 15 to 20 repetitions. Do 4 working sets of 12,10,8 and 6 repetitions, increasing the weight on each successive set. Beginners should only do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.


Next in the pecking order are side lateral raises. Side lateral raises develop the medial head of the deltoid. The anterior and posterior deltoid also comes into play in this movement as well the trapezius (to a much lesser degree). This exercise is great for capping the delts, giving them a nice round look from the front.

Stand upright with your feet planted firmly on the ground about shoulder width apart and with your knees slightly bent. With a dumbbell in each hand, let your arms hang in front of your body with the palms facing each other. Using your shoulders, lift your arms up and out away from your body until your hands are at shoulder level or slightly higher. Turn the wrists slightly, as if pouring water out of a pitcher on the top of the movement to further stress and isolate the medial head of the deltoid. The rear of the dumbbells should be higher than the front, or your pinkies should be higher than thumbs. At the end of the movement your arms should somewhat resemble a "T". Pause very briefly at the top and then lower your arms back to the starting position under control and blast through your set. Most people consider this a shaping movement. And it is, but you should still go heavy if you are trying to build size, side lateral raises are an effective mass builder as well.

You should perform 3 to 4 working sets for about 8 to 10 repetitions with the heaviest weight you can handle with proper form. Beginners should perform 2 to 3 sets for 10 repetitions.


Seated dumbbell laterals are next. By now you should have a good pump. I prefer the seated version of bent-over laterals to lessen the strain on the lower back. Plus, doing bent-over dumbbell laterals in a seated fashion allows you to do a stricter movement than when standing.

Sit on the end of a bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward at the waist and bring the dumbbells behind your calves with the palms of your each hand facing each other. Keep your head up and your body steady and your arms slightly bent. Then raise the weight up and out to the side. Make sure to use very strict form on this exercise. It is very easy to cheat and just swing through the motions. Feel each contraction in the rear delts at the top of the movement and squeeze. Lower the weight under control back to the starting position and then continue with the rest of the set.

Perform 3 to 4 sets for 10 to 12 repetitions. Beginners should do 2 to 3 sets for 10 reps.


This exercise develops the trapezius muscles, but it also helps to work the anterior, medial and posterior delts. OK, by now you are totally pumped (no pun intended). This exercise will help tie in your entire shoulders with your traps and it is great for overall development of the shoulders and traps. This exercise can be performed on a cable pulley as well as with dumbbells, but for overall development nothing beats the barbell version of this exercise.

Stand upright with your feet firmly planted on the ground approximately shoulder width apart. Take a hold of a barbell with an overhand grip and let the bar hang down in front of your thighs. Your hands should be approximately 10 inches apart. Keeping the bar close to your body, lift it straight up until it is underneath your chin and really focus on the contraction by bringing your elbow up and back. Lower the weight to the starting position under control and feel the stretch.

Perform 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. Beginners should do 2 sets of 10 reps.


Dumbbell shrugs develop the trapezius muscles and add mass and density to the trapezius. I prefer the dumbbell version of this exercise to the barbell because with a barbell your thighs and JOHNSON sometimes get in the way preventing the desired form and range of motion for overall development.

Stand in an upright position with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder width apart. With the heaviest dumbbell you can handle in each hand and your arms at your sides basically just shrug or raise your shoulders directly up, almost as if you were trying to pinch your ears. Hold and squeeze at the top of the movement and let your arms hang down back to the starting position. Do not roll your shoulders in a circular motion. Just shrug your shoulder up and down like a piston!

Perform 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps of HEAVY WEIGHT! Beginners should do 2 sets of 10 reps.


For your convenience, we have created a printable page that you can use as a log for this workout. Choose from below:

Shoulder Routine, Advanced: CLICK HERE

Shoulder Routine, Beginners: CLICK HERE


Training shoulders is always fun. When your shoulders are fully PUMPED you look a heck of a lot bigger. You may have noticed that I have not included specific exercises for just the anterior delts. This is because they will be getting plenty of work when you train chest. Not to mention they will be getting plenty of involvement in the other exercises in the routines. If your front delts are a weak point for you, you may wish to incorporate a movement that will isolate them fully, but more likely than not, your anterior delts will get enough work and isolating them will not be necessary.

Big, full, separated and capped and wide up top. Follow these basic guidelines for technique and exercise choices, if you need to make an adjustment here or there to fit your specific body and you will blow up your delts I guarantee it. All you have to do is "GET IN THE TRENCHES" and crush it! So get to the gym and handle your business, until next time, I'm out.

View My Bicep Workout!