With only a glance, there is one thing that can tell you the person you are looking at is a bodybuilder; their shoulders. Fully developed, round shoulders and neck eating traps set bodybuilders apart from everybody else. It shows their dedication to the iron, their willingness to look and be different from the average person and it gives way to an overwhelming sense of physical superiority when compared to others lacking in this area.
Our shoulders are by nature a very complex joint, and by the movements needed to develop them, they are also very delicate. You would be hard pressed not to find someone in your gym who has not had some type of shoulder injury at one point in time during their training and maybe even you have experienced this yourself. Shoulder training should be approached just as aggressively as any other body part, but if there was ever a time to be adamant about proper technique and intelligent training; it would be during your shoulder workouts. Here is a shoulder workout that has kept me healthy and has kept me growing on my way to building boulder shoulders.
Seated dumbbell presses: This exercise is considered to be a compound movement and one that will help you pack on a lot of mass to your shoulders. Primarily used as an exercise to demolish the front deltoids, it also recruits both the lateral and rear heads of the deltoid to complete the movement. Your aim here is to gradually warm up and then go as heavy as you can for 4-6 repetitions. Keep your back pressed into the bench, lift your chest just slightly and be sure to use a full range of motion. Using dumbbells as opposed to a barbell causes you to use more stabilizer muscles to control the weight, therefore, recruiting more muscle fibers to work giving way to more growth.
Lateral Raises: This exercise was designed to specifically target the lateral head of the deltoid and is the exercise that will be most responsible for giving you your shoulder width. It should also be said that this exercise, in my opinion, and experience, is also the hardest exercise to teach someone.
Start by holding a set of dumbbells out in front of your lower abdominal area. Your palms should be facing each other at this point. Slowly raise both arms laterally from your body at the same time leading with your elbows. At the midway point of the movement, your arms, hands, and dumbbells should be parallel with the floor. Continue through the movement until your elbows are slightly higher than your shoulder girdle and always finish at the top with your elbows higher than your hands. Finally a slight tilt, thumb down will complete the top portion of the movement. Follow the same path of motion on the negative and return to starting position. The analogy I use here is to pretend you are holding onto two water bottles and all you have to do is raise them up and pour the water out.
Reverse Pec deck flyes: I love this exercise for hitting the rear delts as I feel it eliminates and momentum you may feel like using with free weights, and you can still use an enormous amount of weight while isolating the rear delt perfectly.
Set the seat so that when you are sitting down the handles are at your shoulder height. I prefer to grip the handles with a reverse grip (thumbs down and palms facing out) on this exercise as I feel just getting your hands in this position already activates the rear deltoids. Pull yourself into the machine, so your chest is tight against the pad then with only a slight bend in your elbows pull the handles back towards you in an arching motion until your hands are past your chest or at the very least in line with the front of your chest. I always tell people with this exercise, pretend there is an imaginary string attached to your elbow. Then pretend someone is pulling on that string forcing your arms back. That way, imagining that happening to you greatly improves the chances of only using the rear deltoid to complete the movement and eliminates the triceps.
Barbell shrugs: This is by far the meat and potatoes movement for building beast-like traps. There is nothing fancy about this movement as all you have to do is grab the bar and shrug your shoulders as if to say “I don’t know.” Go as heavy as you can on these as the trapezius muscles can take a lot of punishment. If you find your traps are stronger than your grip, use wrist straps to help you use the amount of weight you need to properly train them. Shrug straight up and down with no rolling of the shoulders.
Huge shoulders are a sight to behold. When fully developed, shoulders are impressive from all angles and demand the attention of those yet to possess this bodybuilding physique feature. Make sure you are using the principles of Max-OT to get those boulder shoulders and train this area with ferocity and intelligence. The shoulders are involved in so many exercises for other body parts, and the last thing you want is an injury keeping you out of the gym altogether.