Building Massive Shoulders

Nobody Said Building Huge Shoulders Was Easy 

Out of the entire upper body, the deltoids are akin to our calves – small, yet important, muscles that you do not want to push to the wayside. Since they are minor, stabilizing muscles, growth of the shoulders for natural weightlifters and athletes are not overly dramatic.

However, leaps and bounds of strength still can be made through consistent training, eating, and proper rest. Incorporating the following strength building exercises to your weekly regimen is crucial to develop rock-solid shoulder heads. 

Training 

If your goal is to primarily focus on strengthening and adding mass to your deltoids, then dedicating at least one separate training day for them is a step in the right direction. At first glance, it may not seem so, but there is more to the shoulders than may easily be assumed.

Deltoids are divided up into anterior, medial, and posterior heads. Commonly known as the front, lateral, and back heads of the shoulders, most of listed exercises fixate on one of these heads. Of course, heavy compound movements that involve all three should still be the centerpiece of your shoulder day.

Aim for 4-6 reps for the following compound lifts and 6-8 for the isolated movements. Reason being is compound exercises naturally lift heavier than your isolated exercises – notably with deltoid heads. 

Seated Barbell Press

Pressing a barbell while seated is listed first for one main reason. It is the tried-and-true, grandfather of shoulder exercises that simply works for building massive deltoids. All three heads are worked during the seated barbell press with an emphasis on the anterior deltoid and should be the heart of your shoulder workout. If you identify the single, heaviest movement of shoulder day, this should be the one.

In order to perform this exercise, grab a seat under a squat rack or designated seated barbell press station.

  1. Sit straight up in the chair with your lower back and abs ready to stabilize. Your shoulders are pressed gently against the back of the chair as well, however keep enough free room for your scapula to rotate.
  2. Grip the barbell as tight as possible just outside shoulder width.
  3. With a Full Range of Motion (ROM), lift the barbell over your head and steadily bring it down to your chest.
  4. Keep it close to your nose and look forward during the entire movement.

Standing Dumbbell Press

Similar to the seated barbell press, the standing dumbbell press is aimed toward improving balance. Creating a stable base of a strong balance is vital to making gains every week with progressively heavier weights. Dumbbells provide your lesser developed shoulder and arm the chance to catch up to the other – something that is not as noticed with a straight barbell since your stronger side might be overcompensating without you realizing it.

Perform the workout just as seated barbell press, but with a few exceptions:

  • A small arch in the lower back is normal, but overly arching your back past its safe threshold can cause an instant injury and falling weights.
  • Be prepared to use lighter weight because you are standing. Lifting more while seated is natural since you do not have to engage so many components of the rest of your body such as knee, ankle, and hip joints – the same reason you can bench press more than even the seated shoulder press.
  • Stand with feet hip width apart and remember to bring the dumbbells down to your chest level for a full ROM. 

Dumbbell Front Raises

Concentrating on the anterior deltoid or front shoulder head, front raises should be performed as follows:

  1. Stand or sit with an erect posture
  2. Instead of simply raising the weight up and in front of you, fully extend your shoulder, arm and weight out to the wall in front of you. A massive difference of activating your front deltoid will be felt.
  3. Raise to chin level.
  4. Based on preference, alternating front raises provide singular attention to each front deltoid at a time. 

Bent Over Reverse Fly

Make your rear deltoids pleased by utilizing dumbbells for the bent over reverse fly exercise.

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair or bench.
  2. Lean your chest forward so your head is looking down and aligned with your spine. Your knees should be touching, if not very close, to your pectorals.
  3. Lift both dumbbells in unison outward to the left and right.
  4. Do not lock your elbows but keep them straight as possible. The more straight your arms are, the more your rear shoulder head feels the activation.
  5. Bring the dumbbells back to hovering over the ground parallel to your feet. Avoid swinging motions. 

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

When you are on the hunt for a wide-look, you can be sure to cultivate broad shoulders through your own lateral raise journey. Specifically focused on the medial deltoid, lateral raises complete the three heads of the shoulder.

  1. Again, stand or sit in an erect, stabilized posture with dumbbells by your sides.
  2. Either lift one or both at a time – take note that more weight can be lifted without comprising form is attainable by alternating lateral raises. Since this is a supporting exercise to heavy compound movements, it may be in your best interest to isolate one medial deltoid at a time.
  3. Without locking the elbows, maintain straight arms to focus the lift on your lateral head and raise between shoulder and neck height. If you are alternating shoulders, try placing your opposite hand on your hip for improved stability and balance.
  4. Bring back down the weight slowly to not accidentally throw the weight into your hip or thigh.

Get Ready To Press

Safely training shoulders is always an exciting time – especially when gaining mass on a bulk. Through these fundamental, mass-building deltoid exercises, expect your strength gains to go through the roof. 

Can’t wait to shoulder press now? Get on up, stay safe, and make your dreams of remarkable shoulder gains come to life.


Tony G
Tony G

Anthony is a fan of all things gym related. Growing up very overweight and out of shape, Anthony whipped himself into shape and stunned his entire community becoming a "fitness guru". Tony then set his sights on strength sports (Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman) and learned all about body mechanics, mobility work and injury prevention. Tony found his true love in the strength sports, particularly Olympic Weightlifting. He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Fitchburg State University in Exercise and Sports Science. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.