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Best Shoulder Workout Routines

Updated on December 28, 2014

Weight Training For The Shoulders

It's very important to exercise the shoulder muscles if you weight train. Almost every upper body weight training exercise involves the shoulders to some extent. This is especially true of chest and back exercises. Because of this, gaining strength in your shoulders will lead to strength gains for other muscles. When you gain muscle size in the shoulders you'll make your upper body appear thicker and wider as well. Nothing will help you get the coveted v-shaped physique like having wide shoulders. If you follow the best shoulder workout routines, you can build this size and strength. You just need to put the effort in and perform the right exercises with a lot of intensity.

Setting Up A Shoulder Routine

One of the best weight training split routines is a "push-pull" routine. This routine will allow you to train muscles that work together during the same workout. This means that you would train the shoulders with the chest and triceps. You would start off this workout by training your chest, followed by shoulders, and finished it with triceps. Your shoulders will be warmed up nicely from your chest workout when you do this, which will save you time since you won't have to do as many warm-up sets for them.

Shoulders can also be trained with the biceps and triceps for an arm workout. In this case you would begin your workout with shoulder training before hitting the bis and tris.

Best Shoulder Exercises

The best shoulder workout routines are made up of overhead pressing exercises and lateral exercises. Exercises that involve overhead pressing will help you build shoulder thickness. Laterals will help you develop each individual head of the deltoid muscles.

The military press is probably the most popular shoulder weight training exercise. You can do them while standing or seated. It's best to do military presses while seated on a bench with a back support to spare your lower back muscles. Lower the weight to your chin or in front of your neck. Lowering the weight behind your neck puts the shoulder joints in a bad position that could lead to injury so you should avoid doing this.

Another great exercise for the best shoulder workout routines is the dumbbell press. When you do dumbbell presses you'll be able to lower the weight to the sides of your head so you can hit the side deltoids a bit better than you would with military presses.

One great shoulder exercise that you won't see lifters doing much these days is the clean and press. It's a classic weightlifting exercise that will involve many different muscle groups with the shoulders doing most of the work. You start by cleaning a weight to your upper chest, then use your shoulder muscles to press the weight overhead. This exercise will take a lot of effort and makes a great starter to a shoulder workout.

If you want to build each head of the deltoid muscles you need to do laterals. Front lateral raises will target the front deltoid heads, side laterals will target the side delts, and rear laterals will target the rear delts. The front shoulder heads get a lot of work while assisting on chest and overhead pressing exercises so you may not need to do as much direct training for them as for the side or rear delts. To keep the side and rear deltoids in proportion to the front delts you'll need to do more direct training for them with side and rear laterals.

A lot of weight trainers also train their trapezius muscles as part of the best shoulder workout routines. The best exercises for building the traps are shrugs and upright rows. Performing a few sets of them will help you build your traps quickly.

Shoulder Workouts

The best shoulder workout routines should be started off with compound exercises and the isolation movements should be done later. Start your shoulder workouts with a few sets of clean and presses, military presses, and dumbbell presses. After you've done these compound exercises you can move on to doing laterals for each head of the deltoid muscles. You can also do exercises for your traps, including barbell and dumbbell shrugs.

Make sure to warm up the shoulders before you train them, as an injury to them will force you to modify or stop training your entire upper body. Warm up with progressively heavier weights and do some stretching between each set.

At the end of your shoulder workouts, you can do a high rep set, drop set or super set to finish off with a strong pump in the muscles.

Sample Shoulder Workout Routine

Light shoulder workout (15-20 reps per set)

1-2 sets of clean and presses

1-2 sets of military or dumbbell presses

1-2 sets of side laterals

1-2 sets of rear laterals

1-2 sets of shrugs or upright rows

1-2 drop sets of exercise of your choice

Medium shoulder workout (10-15 reps per set)

1-2 sets of clean and presses

2-3 sets of military or dumbbell presses

2-3 sets of side laterals

1-2 sets of rear laterals

2-3 sets of shrugs or upright rows

1-2 drop sets

Heavy shoulder workout (5-10 reps per set)

2-3 sets of clean and presses

3-4 sets of military or dumbbell presses

2-3 sets of side laterals

2-3 sets of rear laterals

2-3 sets of shrugs or upright rows

2-3 drop sets

Building More Shoulder Width

One of your priorities when following the best shoulder workout routines should be to build more shoulder width. Building wider shoulders will make your midsection appear smaller and give your body a v-shaped look.

If you want to build wider shoulders you need to target the the side heads of the deltoids. Dumbbell presses and side laterals are the best exercises to build the side delts. For a real side deltoid burner, try doing supersets of side laterals followed immediately by dumbbell presses. Doing the side laterals first will allow you to hit the side delts hard when you get to the dumbbell presses.

Proper Overhead Press Form


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