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The shoulders are the most widely used muscle in the upper body, and are visible from every angle. They function in almost every action that comes your way. They are even used in movements like squats and deadlifts. The shoulders have almost 360 degrees of rotation, not to mention a broad thick set of shoulders looks impressive on stage and on the beach.
The deltoids are an important muscle yet so many people can’t seem to develop a thick well balanced set of shoulders.
In the article below I will discuss the anatomy of the shoulder, its function, and some exercises for each area of the shoulder. Let’s turn small deltoids into boulder shoulders!
Function: Flexion, Medial Rotation
Location: Front portion of the shoulder girdle
Exercise: Barbell Shoulder Press
Location: Middle/Side of the shoulder
Exercise: Dumbbell lateral raises
Function: Extension, Lateral Rotation
Location: Back of the shoulder
Exercise: Reverse Cable Flys
As you can see, the shoulder is really made up of 3 different small muscle groups. Many beginners treat the shoulder as one muscle group, and train it like the chest; presses, presses and more presses.
The only problem with this training approach is presses for the shoulders will heavily recruit the anterior head (front portion) with little work to the middle and posterior head (back portion) of the shoulder girdle. This builds a terrible imbalance and can result in injury.
Without middle and posterior development the shoulders look narrow from both the front and the side and appear to be slanted. Many times, injury is a result of imbalances like this. As a whole the shoulder is a moderate sized muscle, it is made up of 3 small muscles. Each muscle should receive an adequate workload and attention.
The shoulder girdle can rotate almost 360 degrees, so exercises will be performed in many different angles with the use of free weights, machines and cables. I like to use a low (4-6) rep range with the compound pressing exercises and a moderate (8-12) rep range for all the isolation work.
All exercises should be performed in perfect form because bad form or habits that you start now will follow you and will lead to lack of progress, underdevelopment, or worst off injury in the future.
Sample Workout 1
Barbell Shoulder Press – 3x 4-6 reps
One-Arm Side Laterals – 3×12 reps
Front Plate Raise – 3×12 reps
Lying Face Down Rear Delt Dumbbell Raise – 3×15 reps
Sample Workout 2
Seated Side Lateral Raise – 3×8-12 reps
Diamond Pushups – 3×15 reps
Reverse Cable Flys – 3×12 reps
Side Lateral Raise – 3×15 reps
Sample Workout 3
Seated Bent Over Rear Delt Raise – 3×8-12 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3×4-6 reps
Standing Low-Pulley Deltoid Raise – 3×812 reps
Barbell Rear Delt Row – 3 x 12 reps
Sample Workout 4
Arnold Dumbbell Press – 3×6-8 reps
Bent Over Low-Pulley Side Lateral – 3×12 reps
Lying One-Arm Lateral Raise – 3×10 reps
Front Dumbbell Raise – 3 x 12 reps
Sample Workout 5
One-Arm Side Laterals – 3×8 reps
Standing Military Press – 3×6-8 reps
Reverse Flys – 3×12 reps
Side Lateral Raise – 3×15 reps