How to build big thick shoulder muscles

The best way to build big shoulder muscles

If you want to build big thick cannon ball size shoulders so wide that you have to turn sideways when you walk through doorways then keep reading. Big thick deltoids that are balanced proportionately are impressive to look at.

When weight training to develop the deltoids you want to make sure you work all of your shoulder muscles which mean’s to work all 3 heads in the shoulders, anterior (front), middle and posterior (rear).

When trying to grow big shoulders if you choose to use pressing movements to develop them you will have to cut back on barbell pressing movements for other muscles that involve the shoulders like barbell incline and flat bench press so you don’t overtrain your shoulders and possibly injure yourself or overtrain.

The best weightlifting exercises for developing big thick slabs of shoulder muscles in my mind are the clean and press, the standing military press (or push press) and lateral raises using cables.

The standing military press


Using a barbell load it with the weight you want to use for your first set on a squat rack that is chest high. Grab the bar with a wider than shoulder width grip with your hands facing forward (pronated).

Lift it off the rack and step back a step or two from the rack, with your knees slightly bent push the weight upwards until your arms lock out (straighten). Now lower the weight to your collar bone and then slowly press the weight back to the fully arms extended position. That is one repetition.

Repeat the required amount of repetitions for your set. Make sure to do 6 to 10 reps per set and increase the weight each set. If you find you can do more than 10 reps on a set then the weight needs to be increased. This exercise will work your anterior and middle deltoid muscles.

Standing Military Press

The clean and press


This exercise is a great compound movement. It gets many more muscles involved other than your shoulders, muscles like your quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks triceps and your trapezius. This exercise will get your heart pumping even with a light weight.

For this exercise you want to start by putting a barbell on the floor in front of you with the weight on it you will be using for the first set on this exercise. Step up to the bar Placing your feet about shoulder width apart.

Bend down lowering your butt towards the floor and grab a hold of the bar with an overhand grip. While in this position make sure your knees are not shooting out past your toes, if they are then you are bent over or forward to much.  

Make sure while doing this exercise that your back does not arch, keep it straight as possible throughout or you risk injury. Now you are ready to lift, pulling your shoulders back slightly look ahead and lift the weight as you stand up and just as you are about to have your body erect you need to snap the weight upwards towards your chest level and then at that point using your shoulders press the bar up just like you do in the military press.

Lower the weight back to the starting position, that was one repetition. It is best to use perfect form on this exercise than it is the amount of weight you use.  Do 6 to 10 reps per set and perform 3 or 4 work sets.

Clean and Press

Lateral raises using cables


I like using cables for lateral raises because they keep constant tension on the muscle and you do not have to use really heavy weight to build the muscle.

Side lateral raise is performed by standing with your side beside the cable machine grabbing the pulley with your outer arm in front of you across your body and the pulley being at the lowest position.   Pull the weight up and outward raising your arm so that your elbow and upper arm is parallel to the floor. Hold for a second and then return to the starting position.

Bent rear lateral is performed bent over at the waist and knees bent with your side beside the cable machine grabbing the pulley with your outer arm across your body pulling the cable across your body and out to the side using your shoulders to move the weight. Imagine your arms as hooks and focus on your shoulders doing the work. Once done one side then switch to the other arm.

Front cable raise is performed by standing facing the cable machine with the pulley at the bottom still and grabbing the cable with one hand raising the cable up in front of you until your arm is parallel to the floor like you would with a dumbbell front lateral raise. Lower the weight to the beginning and that was one rep. Perform your reps for one shoulder then switch to the other arm.

For your lateral raises do not go to heavy or you won’t get the full benefit of using the cables. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions per set.

There you have some great shoulder exercises that will help you to build the big massive deltoids you have always wanted.

Just be consistent with your workouts doing a shoulder workout about every 72 to 96 hours will be enough especially if you are also doing a chest workout.

Good luck.


Comments 7 comments

rsynd profile image

rsynd 4 years ago from United States

Overhead presses for the win!

Grant's World profile image

Grant's World 6 years ago from Canada Author

Aaron Hi and thanks.

I think doing decline bench would be fine. Better than doing incline or flat.

What I recommend when trying to grow is make sure you are training all muscles that work together in the same workout even if it is just shoulders you want to grow I would work them out during the same workout as chest and triceps. That way you won't overtrain them as easily and they will have time to heal. Hope that helps.

Aaron B - 6 years ago

Nice tips. I plan on adding clean & presses back into my workouts. What is your opinion on doing decline barbell presses for chest instead of flat and incline during a cycle where you're focusing more on developing bigger shoulders?

Grant's World profile image

Grant's World 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks bojangles I agree about how hard they are to grow. It takes some time to figure out what works for you.

Thanks for stopping by.


bojanglesk8 profile image

bojanglesk8 6 years ago

Good hub. The shoulders when fully developed are probably the most aesthetic and impressive body part. Unfortunately, they're one of the hardest body parts (at least for me) to make grow!

Grant's World profile image

Grant's World 6 years ago from Canada Author

AJ thanks.

The military press has been causing me problems as well with my lower back. It sounds like a common irritation and injury for us that like to lift.



fundamentallife profile image

fundamentallife 6 years ago

Great workout tips. Voted up and awesome!

I love the standing military press, but since my back started playing up this exercise is a big no, no!!

Thanks for sharing your muscle building knowledge.


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    Cannon ball size shoulders can be yours with consistent training.

    Big thick shoulder muscles are always impressive.
    Big thick shoulder muscles are always impressive.

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