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Boulder Shoulders: The Best Shoulder Workout

June 11, 2017

Boulder Shoulders: The Best Shoulder Workout

When it comes to building an aesthetic and powerful looking physique, nothing is more important than big, broad shoulders.

A well-formed set of boulders is the foundation of the V-taper that makes for a head-turning physique. The V-taper is achieved with muscular shoulders, fully developed lats, and a small waistline.

Many shoulder routines lack variety and only develop the middle section of the deltoids. If you want jacked shoulders, it’s time to start focusing on developing all three sections of the deltoid muscles: the lateral, anterior, and posterior.

shoulder deltsThe Best Shoulder Exercises

While many athletes perform standard presses such as the dumbbell shoulder press and barbell military press (which are extremely important), these exercise mainly target the middle head of the deltoid, and the anterior and posterior delts are left neglected.

Developing the anterior and posterior deltoid muscles produces incredible overall aesthetics and an action-figure-like physique.

Anterior Deltoids

The anterior deltoids are the very front head of the shoulder muscle and if developed properly, create an impressive and round-looking shape from a front-facing view.

Posterior Deltoids

Rear or posterior delts give a thick and powerful appearance from the side and back. Rear deltoids are what really make the shoulders “pop” and give you that 3-D look.

Take a look at the three major principles to follow in order to get the most out of your shoulder workouts:

Three Principles of a Solid Shoulder Workout Routine

Morgan MacDonal doing dumbbell front raises

1. Lift heavy and focus on strength gains

Many athletes over-complicate their training. One of, if not the best time-tested and proven strategies is to simply lift heavy on the most important exercises and focus on making small incremental improvements each workout.

Track Your Workouts

What this means is carefully tracking your workouts and focusing on improvement in each and every session.

Shoulders are a stubborn muscle group, especially for naturally skinny people, so it’s necessary to emphasize progressive overload principles.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Take for instance the dumbbell shoulder press, one of the best mass building shoulder exercises used by athletes at every level.

If you performed the dumbbell shoulder press with 55 lbs for 7 reps in your last workout, push yourself to do 8 reps with the same weight the following workout, or move up to 60 lbs and do 7 reps again.

This simple principle forces the muscles to respond and grow bigger and stronger.

This may sound extremely basic, but too many people in the gym don’t follow this simple, effective principle. It’s the little things that make a huge difference.

2. Train all three heads of the deltoid muscles

As we mentioned earlier, deltoids actually have three sections. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize this, which is why you rarely see a shoulder with the front, middle, and rear portion fully developed.

Without adequate development in all three sections, it’s nearly impossible to form those powerful looking boulders.

The difference between the average guy who is fairly lean and muscular with some ab definition and the ripped fitness model is all in the V-taper, and for many people, developing the anterior and posterior deltoid muscles is the missing link for achieving that sought-after shape.

The wider and thicker your shoulders are, the better your V-taper ratio will be.

3. Mix up your exercises, rep ranges and rest times

As with any muscle group, changing up your workout routine can be a great way to unleash powerful gains.

When changing up your routine always try to perform the best shoulder workouts for maximum muscle gains.

Try to follow these three principles when planning your training regimen:

  • Vary the exercises used to target each section of the shoulders. Aim to have 4-5 solid exercises that work the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoid, and change these up every so often.
  • Make sure to vary your repetition ranges. This means performing heavy sets with the maximum amount of overload on your delts some days and performing high rep sets on other days.
  • Vary your rest time between sets. One of the best ways to stimulate growth is a combination of heavy sets with short rest times.

So what does shoulder training for huge delts look like? The following routine will develop all three deltoid sections and unleashes powerful gains. Check it out:

Boulder Shoulders: The Best Shoulder Workout for Mass

Shaun Clarida at the gym

1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 5-10
  • Rest Time: 60-90 seconds
  • Pace: 2 seconds down

2. Standing Barbell Military Press

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 5
  • Rest Time: 120 seconds
  • Pace: 2 seconds down

3. Dumbbell Lateral Raises

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 6-10
  • Rest Time: 75 seconds
  • Pace: 2:1 (two seconds down, one second up)

4. Dumbbell Arnold Press

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-12
  • Rest Time: 60 seconds
  • Pace: 2:2

5. Dumbbell Shrugs

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 8-12
  • Rest Time: 75 seconds
  • Pace: 2:1

6. Seated Dumbbell Rear Deltoid Raise

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10-15
  • Rest Time: 75 seconds
  • Pace: 2:1

Try it out and work on transforming those shoulders into boulders. Make sure to keep strict form while doing heavy shoulder presses, as it’s easy to get out of line and end up with an injury. Avoid behind the neck presses!

Interested in more of our top workout guides? Check these out:

The Best Chest Workout

The Best Leg Workout

The Best Arm Workout

The Best Back Workout


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