Strong Shoulders Workout: 4 Shoulder-Building Compound Moves

Looking for a new way to add size and shape to your shoulders? Get out of the lateral-raise rut and give these compound movements a shot. You'll like what you see!

Shoulders were once my weakest body part. No matter what I tried, it seemed like I couldn't build better shoulders to save my life. After an interest in CrossFit sparked my curiosity in Olympic-style lifts, I pushed the isolation movements to the end of my workouts and gave compound movements their due. Within a matter of months, my shoulders gained significant size and strength!

I'm usually a proponent of a standard bodybuilding routine built on effective isolation movements, but it's good to mix things up and force your body to adapt to new stimuli. Endless front and lateral raises with relatively light weights get boring, too. Sure, they provide a burn to your muscular endurance, but they don't allow you to hoist heavy stuff over your head. Believe me: Heavy lifts will really help you build the shoulder caps you crave!

If you're tired of your normal shoulder isolation movements, try this compound workout. Not only will your shoulders get a great pump, but the movements will challenge your entire body. Your heart rate will skyrocket and stay high. You'll lift more total weight, engage your core, be forced to use your glutes, and you'll burn more calories than you would doing a standard isolation routine.

Compound Movement Shoulder Workout
    • Push Press Push Press

      Push Press

      5 sets of 8-12 reps, rest 60-90 seconds between sets
    • Dumbbell Snatch Dumbbell Snatch

      Dumbbell Snatch (shown with kettlebell)

      4 sets of 8-12 reps each arm, rest 60-90 seconds between sets
Dumbbell Snatch: Perform from the floor or hang position. Finish all 8 reps with one arm before moving to the other.
Kettlebell Clean and Jerk: Finish all 8 reps with one arm before moving to the other.


Handstand Push-Ups: Scale these to match your ability level. You can perform them with your feet on a tall box, or use a pad under your head to limit your range of motion.